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Dark Reign 2 Review

GAME INFO
publisher: Activision
developer: Pandemic Studios
genre: Strategy

MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS
PII-266, 64MB RAM, 550MB HDD, 3D accelerator
ESRB rating: T
homepage:
www.activision.com/games/dr2/

release date: May 12, 00
» All About Dark Reign 2 on ActionTrip


Back in 1997 a company named Auran realized how nice it would be to make another RTS, and thanks to that we were pleasantly RTSing the end of that year away. They called the game Dark Reign: The Future of Wars and it was besides Command & Conquer, Total Annihilation and Age of Empires, one of the best games in the genre. The programmers wasted no time and kept publishing new units, sounds, terrains, buildings, utilities and after a year even an Add-On mission pack called Rise of the Shadowlands. Dark Reign was certainly well accepted by RTS-playing population.

Just when the players were starting to cool off, Activision hired Pandemic "We-made-Battlezone" Studios to create their new 3D RTS game. Just like its predecessor, Dark Reign 2 tells the tale of the dark future that befell mankind, but its events precede the ones from Reign 1 (Star Wars mania). The population has split into the rich living in agricultural and residential 'domes' in which a relatively safe and comfortable living environment is sustained artificially and Sprawlers, basically the majority of humans living outside in filth, toxic air and solar radiation. There is, of course, also JDA - Jovian Defense Authority - which does its best to maintain peace using brute force.

If we disregard the story of class struggle and the 3D engine, Dark Reign 2 is as much of a proper strategy game as one gets, incorporating all the best things of the genre. You'll have to find and harvest resources, use them in order to create a military force, and then fight for more.

Initially, you can choose the side you wish to fight for and then procede through the following twenty missions, or better still chapters. The tale is scripted and thoroughly linear, still very interesting, regardless of which one of the clans you chose. Real-time cut-scenes keep interloping with the action, which both adds to the atmosphere and spoils the gameplay. From that point its just a neverending story of building Command centers, Solar Arrays, Refineries and barracks, vehicle production, amassing troops and Taelon reserves, building defenses and camera towers that increase LOS. Once you gather sufficient funds you get to upgrade your structures and so on until there is only one on the map...

The 3D engine is quite good. Pandemic Studios say that Dark Reign 2 uses Intel MRM (multi-resolution mesh) technology that should harness the CPU power most efficiently. The levels are really beautiful and far from being empty or monotonous. The first couple of missions will take you from the green forests, snowy mountains and rocky cliffs to underground temples and torn-down cities with ever-present water surfaces and scorched earth abundant with the most important substance of the future - Taelon. The Fog of War and visibility look pretty good with certain exceptions, like a bridge flashing when you get close to it. The game also features dynamic weather effects and day/night changes.

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7.8   Good


HIGHS
Nice graphics, terrain and units...

LOWS
Camera control sucks, AI...

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