Dark Reign: The Future of War

Strategy 1997 Windows Activision Real time Science Fiction

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The future is dark indeed

This is the first in a series of mostly decent, if unspectacular, RTS games which are very similar to the likes of Command & Conquer, Warcraft and KKND. This one is showing its age a bit these days, with some awkward design choices, dodgy AI and a lack of variety, but it just about serves the purpose if you want some real time action. There's some sort of storyline here but it basically boils down to the usual futuristic army battling it out against another, with two campaigns to play through where you can see the conflict from both sides. Much of what follows is traditional RTS stuff, where you make use of a variety of units to explore several maps, building up resources then engaging in combat with your enemy when you find them. However, Dark Reign does introduce a couple of interesting additions to the gameplay, not least of which is 3D movement, which allows you to take advantage of the environment by placing your units in forests or mountains in order to give them various bonuses. Dark Reign also features some unusual units, like the Water Contaminator, which bring in some nice strategic opportunities which require some careful consideration in order to use. However, the game does feature a number of issues, which negate any innovative mechanics it introduces. The UI is not overly friendly and takes some navigation in order to use, while the story is pretty dull, and the graphics bland and rather ugly. This is a hard game, which should please some players, but overall, it's quite a tough sell in this day and age.

Futuristic real time strategy; classic design

Dark Reign is a really well put together classic real time strategy game, in 2D, featuring a really impressive roaster of units and a suite of maps that will keep you playing for hours. Another cool thing, for those that really want to sink deep in to their real time strategies is that this game had a really powerful modding community built around it, therefore, even today you still have the chance of unlocking quite a few fan made scenarios and even gameplay conversions. At any rate, the game per se is well put together, mods or no mods, and the AI system is very smart and well executed. In fact this is the game's best feature, the fact that the AI is a really intricate design machinery, allowing for the PC to trim its strategy to fit the player, and at times, for advanced players, even change its strategies in mid play, really putting a good fight. So, yeah, for a game whose community is still very lively, this can be that great quality RTS you've always been looking for, the BroodWar of its time!

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