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Background ********** Dark Reign was made in 1997 by Activision (Star trek Voyager: Elite force, Quake, Civilization). Set in the future, Dark Reign is your bog standard strategy game where the only two resources you have to collect are Taelon (for power) and water (to make money).
Story **** Basically, in 2250 there were 30 billion people living on earth which was more than the planet could support. Crime was high as was pollution. In 2314 the major nations of earth allied and began shipping criminals to a dome on Jupiter’s moon Io. By 2400 almost a million people were expelled to Io annually. More colonies were created on Callisto and Ganymede, as well as Neptune’s moon Triton. In 2447 a rocket containing nuclear waste crashed near Bombay. This catastrophe left the future of earth bleak. The prisoners on off world colonies were given the opportunity to explore and colonise new worlds for the people of earth in exchange for their freedom. The governing body of earth never intended to let the prisoners go and became known as the Imperium. As a way of controlling the prisoners they were all marked genetically so that they would each have one completely black eye to easily define them and they would all die at the age of 25 so that no rebellions could occur. However, through the generations a marked scholar found this DNA and made it public knowledge. These marked people were innocent, as they were only descendents of criminals and yet the Imperium still doomed them. The marked became known as the freedom guard and the war began. The Togran foundation was founded in 2382 by a scientist. They had colonized are far off planet and were the last humans not to be engaged in war. They became very technologically advanced. Unfortunately for the tograns, the war soon spread to their home world and they were wiped out, leaving the war between the Imperium and the freedom guard to continue for eternity.
Objective ******** As you and your planet are destroyed you escape in a solitary ship. You come across a probe adrift in space sent by the founder of your planet itself, Togra. This probe is capable of brining you back in time and with your knowledge of war you can wipe out the freedom guard and the Imperium. This is apparently a good thing. Before you go through the time portal you must train because you only get one chance. The whole game therefore is you taking control of either the Imperium of freedom guard to practice war and when you have gone through all of the levels, then you can help the togran destroy everyone else. Simple really.
Game Play ********* We’re now on page 30 in the manual, so you can tell I shortened the story a bit (but believe me it doesn’t make sense in the first place). Although the story makes absolutely no sense, no one ever reads it anyway so it doesn’t matter. There are a number of options on the main menu, Single and Multi Player, Instant action for when you just want a randomly generated battle for fun, Construction kit where you can make your own maps and missions, and quit.
When you start the game for the first time it is always advisable to do the training missions. These are excellent and tell you everything you need to know to play the game (*Throws away instruction manual*). The instruction manual is a whopping 118 pages long but you can get away without reading a single page. With control of one of the two warring factions you do what you always do in a strategy game. Create buildings to make troops and vehicles and then go and flatten the enemy. Very simple concept and yet highly enjoyable. If you’ve ever played a strategy game before this one uses exactly the same engine as all the others so you’re away instantly. If you’ve not played one before all you do is select one or more units and click with your mouse where you want them to go. There is a menu on the right hand side where you can set your sides AI, select buildings to create, change the game speed etc.
What makes this game different from other strategy games is that this is one of the rare ones set in the future. One thing I have noticed about red alert, age of empires and the settlers is that they are all set in the past. This game is done immaculately well, with a full orchestra playing the game music which if you love war films you should really get into, as it’s all classical. There are 8 CD tracks which each last 4 minutes and you’ll be humming along to them in no time. The game graphics are still completely relevant even though the game is 5 years old, with beautifully rendered sprites on to a 3 dimensional isometric setting.
Requirements *********** 90 MHz Processor Microsoft Windows 95 (But it plays fine on 98 and XP) 16MB RAM Double speed CD-ROM 110MB Hard Disk Space 16bit colour SVGA (640x480) video card
The ELSPA rating on the box is 15 years old and over.
Final Thoughts ************ I bought this game for £10 about 2 years ago. This game is completely different from Dark Reign 2 (as DR2 is fully 3D) so I would defiantly recommend to you to buy this game first. It is available on Amazon.co.uk now for the unbelievable price of £3.33 in a DVD cover (so you won't get the paper manual!) The Music on this CD alone is worth as much as a classical album as it’s one of the best sets of PC music I have heard. So I’m ordering you now, unless you are unable to play games due to a health condition, buy this game!