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Overview

Released on March 31, 1998, seven months after the original game, Dark Reign: Rise of the Shadowhand is an expansion pack for Dark Reign: The Future of War developed and published by Activision. The player must own both the expansion and the original game in order for Rise of the Shadowhand to be installed and played. The expansion features a new campaign roughly equal in length to that of the previous game, as well as two new factions: the Xenites and the Shadowhand. Both new factions incorporate a mix of new and old units, with the Xenites inheriting many of the Freedom Guard's units and structures, and the Shadowand being based heavily upon the previous game's Imperium faction. Rise of the Shadowhand also shipped with Edge of Darkness, a fan-made total conversion that incorporates many new units and gameplay changes of its own. When rereleased by GOG.com in January of 2011, Dark Reign and Rise of the Shadowhand were combined into a single package entitled "Dark Reign + Expansion."

Background

The events of Rise of the Shadowhand seem to take place under the assumption that the player character of the previous game was successful in saving the Togran people, as it is stated that the Togran uprising on Strata-7 was a major turning point in the Imperium-Freedom Guard war. With their hopes for a quick and decisive military victory shattered by the emergence of a third party, members of the Imperium High Command convened in order to commission a massive fleet of 20,000 warships, which came to be known as the Black Armada. What followed was a military campaign referred to as the Caliban Offensive; using the Black Armada as their muscle, the Imperium began a slow, inexorable push toward the Freedom Guard capital world of Teron, leaving battered, lifeless husks of planets in its wake.

The Emancipator flees toward the Foldgate as an Imperium ship takes aim.

Knowing the fate that would befall them should they hold their ground against the Black Armada, many outlying Freedom Guard bases are commanded to evacuate. One such evacuation effort on Electra IV fell victim to the Black Armada's advance, with only a single transport ship, the Emancipator, successfully avoiding destruction. Skirting the edge of known space in order to avoid the Imperium's notice, the Emancipator detects a massive object enveloped in a cloaking field. Upon further investigation, it is revealed to a be a Foldgate, advanced technology which the Imperium had gone to great pains to keep hidden. The Emancipator soon finds itself under attack by the gate's defenders, and without the means to retaliate against their assailants, the Emancipator's crew charges through the Foldgate, destroying it in the process.

After the jump, the Emancipator and its crew find themselves thousands of light years away from their attackers. Unfortunately, scans reveal that the new system is home to a significant number of Shadowhand, the Imperium's ruthless secret police. Knowing that they can no longer flee, and that the Imperium will only continue to grow stronger the longer that they remain uncontested, the Freedom Guard remnants land at the nearest habitable planet, Ninevah, in order to establish a base. At the same time, the Shadowhand within the system are beginning to experiment with a new type of A.I. technology, codenamed "Osiris," technology that could have dire implications for those on both sides of the conflict.

Gameplay

The campaign makes use of several new unit types.

See also: Dark Reign

The fundamental mechanics of Dark Reign remain unchanged with the release of Rise of the Shadowhand. The new Xenite and Shadowhand factions introduced in the expansion represent the single biggest addition to the core game, as both incorporate several new units and a single new structure. These new factions can be used in multiplayer as well, bringing the full number of selectable factions to four. The single-player campaign is laid out similarly to that of its predecessor, with separate mission sets for both of the newly-introduced sides. There are fourteen missions in total, and, as before, the player can choose to play through the storyline for one side in its entirety, or alternate between the two as they see fit.

Rise of the Shadowhand also features additional multiplayer maps and scenarios, some of which was pulled directly from the Dark Reign fan community. All of the unique content introduced in the expansion is available for use within Dark Reign's in-game map editor, which survives the transition from the original game in more or less the same form.

New Units and Structures

Though the new factions of Rise of the Shadowhand are not entirely unique, as they utilize many of the same units and almost all of the same structures that were introduced in the first game, they are nonetheless distinct in play style, as a number of the core units of the Freedom Guard and Imperium factions have been nixed in order to make room for new units. In addition to the new offensive units, a new Terraformer unit type, available to both sides, is debuted in Rise of the Shadowhand, which allows terrain to be dynamically altered by the player.

Universal Units

Road Terraformer

Road Terraformer

  • Cost: 400 Credits
  • Hit Points: 100
  • Type: Tracked
The Road Terraformer is a special non-combat unit that can convert a large tract of land into road, thus imparting a substantial movement benefit for many unit types. This is a one-time ability. When activated by pressing the Special Function key, all land within a large radius around the Terraformer will be converted into road, and the unit will be destroyed.
Marsh Terraformer

Marsh Terraformer

  • Cost: 600 Credits
  • Hit Points: 100
  • Type: Tracked
The Marsh Terraformer is the opposite of the Road Terraformer, transforming wide swaths of land into harsh, swampy terrain that is difficult for many unit types to pass through. It is activated just like the Road Terraformer, and it also may be used only once. The Marsh Terraformer can be particularly useful when used on chokepoints that can't be easily avoided.

Xenite Units

Gant

Gant

  • Cost: 250 Credits
  • Hit Points: 150
  • Type: Walker
The Gant is a six-legged alien creature that can quickly cross all terrain types without restriction and can scale hills and inclines without difficulty. It attacks with its claws, which are adept at damaging both infantry and structures, and it also has the ability to regenerate in combat. Though normally somewhat skittish, they are emboldened when near a Grendel.
Ranger

Ranger

  • Cost: 300 Credits
  • Hit Points: 100
  • Type: Walker
As an animal tamer of sorts, the Ranger is able to control Xenite creatures through a combination of conditioning and radio-wave technology. Any wild Gants or Grendels within a certain radius of the Ranger can be brought under the player's control within a short period of time. If the Ranger is killed for any reason, the creatures revert to their previous state.
Grendel

Grendel

  • Cost: 1,100 Credits
  • Hit Points: 250
  • Type: Walker
Though related to the Gant, the Grendel is far more fearsome. With more than ten thousand pounds of mass, extremely thick skin, and powerful muscles, it is a match even for heavy tanks. It is able to regenerate and move across many types of terrain without hindrance, and can even emit an electrical discharge that is extremely damaging to armored targets.
Grendel Rider

Grendel Rider

  • Cost: 1,700 Credits
  • Hit Points: 300
  • Type: Walker
The Grendel Rider combines the strengths of the Ranger and the Grendel into a single unit. This is particularly advantageous for the beast's rider, as the massive Grendel allows it a much greater degree of survivability than it would otherwise have. As is the case with the Ranger, loss of the unit will lead to the immediate loss of control of any dominated creatures.
R.A.T. Mk 2

Rapid Armored Transport Mk 2

  • Cost: 450 Credits
  • Hit Points: 200
  • Type: Wheeled
An upgrade to the standard Rapid Armored Transport, the Mk 2 is equipped with a turret-mounted laser rifle and the ability to cross over water much more rapidly. Unfortunately, it gains these features by sacrificing the stealth capability of its forebear, as the Mk 2 will not automatically camouflage itself when stationary in the way that its predecessor could.
Avenger

Avenger

  • Cost: 2,200 Credits
  • Hit Points: 115
  • Type: Flyer
The Avenger is a "glass cannon" air unit that can deliver a massive payload capable of destroying almost any unit with a single volley. The unit comes with two significant downsides, however. Not only is its armor somewhat underwhelming, but, because of the nature of the weapon it uses, the Avenger must also be returned to a Re-Arming Deck after each shot.
Power Striker

Power Striker

  • Cost: 2,800 Credits
  • Hit Points: 100
  • Type: Walker
Among the most skilled of Freedom Guard operatives, the Power Striker is equipped with technology that can interrupt the flow of Taelon power currents. When used against an enemy's Taelon Power Generator, the power grid of an entire base can be disrupted. Once powered down in this way, buildings must be manually restated in order to be used again.

Shadowhand Units

Reaper

Reaper

  • Cost: 400 Credits
  • Hit Points: 175
  • Type: Walker
With higher hit points than many vehicles, the towering, eight-foot-tall, mechanoid Reaper is undoubtedly among the deadliest and most resilient of Dark Reign's infantry units. It is quite adept at dealing with the various Xenite creatures native to Ninevah, which is not surprising given the fact that the Reapers were designed with this purpose specifically in mind.
Gemini Tank

Gemini Tank

  • Cost: 700 Credits
  • Hit Points: 340 / 170 (Speed)
  • Type: Hover
Essentially two tanks in one, the Gemini Tank can switch between attack and speed mode at will. In attack mode, the Gemini is somewhat slow, though very heavily shielded, and has the ability to unleash a rapid stream of laser fire from a dual turret. In speed mode, armor and offensive capability are greatly reduced, although its speed is greatly increased.
The Fury

The Fury

  • Cost: 1,600 Credits
  • Hit Points: 400
  • Type: Walker
With twin arm-mounted Tachion cannons and a laser bore for close-range targets, the Fury Battlewalker is perhaps the greatest weapon of the Shadowhand. In addition to its intimidating armaments, the Fury is also quite mobile, being able to traverse hills and other rough terrain with much greater ease than a traditional tank would be able to.
Hades Bomber

Hades Bomber

  • Cost: 2,200 Credits
  • Hit Points: 150
  • Type: Flyer
True to its name, the Hades Bomber is able to rain hell down upon its opponents in the form of lethal chemical napalm that few units can withstand. The Hades Bomber's weaknesses are almost identical to the Avanger's, as it is not only lightly armored, but also somewhat limited by its ammo capacity, which forces it to seek out Re-Arming Decks frequently.
EMP Device

EMP Device

  • Cost: 2,600 Credits
  • Hit Points: 150
  • Type: Flyer
Researched under the strictest of secrecy, the EMP Device wreaks havoc on an enemy's computer communication systems. If an EMP Device is activated within the vicinity of a Headquarters, that player will be temporarily locked out of their own control network. In other words, they will be rendered completely incapable of communicating with their troops.

Structures

Biotech Compound

Xenite Biotech Compound

  • Cost: 1,900 Credits / 1,500 Credits (Upgrade)
  • Hit Points: 750
The Biotech Compound, or Biocom, allows for specially engineered Gants and Grendels to be raised to maturity. In addition, it acts as a training ground for Rangers and a place of acclimation for the Freedom Guard's other infantry units, who must be modified at a genetic level in order to survive the inhospitable atmosphere native to the planet Ninevah.
Osiris Matrix

Shadowhand Osiris Matrix

  • Cost: 1,000 Credits
  • Hit Points: 1,400
The Osiris Matrix acts as something of a conduit, being responsible both for producing and coordinating the Shadowhand's Osiris master control program. This building allows for many of the Shadowhand's signature units to be built, including the Reaper, the Gemini Tank, and the Fury. It is also the first and only prerequisite for the second level Headquarters.

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