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Overview

Released by Activision in the latter half of 1997, Dark Reign: The Future of War is a science-fiction real-time strategy game for the PC and the first game developed by Auran (presently N3V Games). Dark Reign was initially conceived as Corporation - Off World, and twelve months of development were completed with the title under this name. This period saw the creation of the Tactics engine, the real-time strategy game engine Auran had hoped would be the basis for further RTS titles. At some point in its development, Corporation was rechristened Dark Reign, though the Tactics engine would still be used as its foundation. The final product would include a full single-player campaign, multiplayer, an "instant action" skirmish mode, and a fully-featured in-game construction kit, which allows players to create custom multiplayer maps as well as single-player missions and scenarios.

The Dark Reign franchise would go on to include two additional releases: an expansion pack for the original game, 1998's Rise of the Shadowhand, as well as a sequel, 2000's Dark Reign 2. Neither game would be developed by Auran, with the former being produced by Activision, and the latter by Pandemic Studios. The original title has also seen a limited number of rereleases in the years since its introduction, including a GOG.com release in January of 2011, which presents both Dark Reign and its expansion as a single package. In January of 2012, an enhanced version of Dark Reign developed by Magnetar Games, dubbed Dark Reign Redux, was released as an Xbox Live Indie title, featuring improvements such as full widescreen resolution.

Background

Earth in Decline

By the middle of the 23rd century, the population of Earth has begun to reach unsustainable numbers. Struggling to cope with the challenges of gross overpopulation, including prodigous food production and large-scale waste disposal, society begins to stratify. Those at the upper echelons begin to build closed communities for themselves, complete with advanced air and water filtration systems, living in relative comfort apart from the rest of mankind. Areas outside of these highly controlled complexes grow to become increasingly lawless, as discontentment with the increasingly inhospitable planet and the ever-widening divide between the well-to-do and those below them creates palpable tension across the globe. By the early years of the 24th century, criminality has reached such a level that the leaders of the free world agree to establish a prison colony on Io, one of the moons of Jupiter, so that those deemed "dangerous and irredeemable" can be imprisoned there for the remainder of their natural lives.

The governing body created to oversee the process of trying and exporting criminals to Io, the Jovian Detention Administration, or JDA, quickly becomes one of the most influential organizations in the world, and by the year 2400, more than one million persons per year are sentenced to live out their days on Io or other extra-terrestrial penal colonies created in the following years. Though many question whether the JDA was created merely as a thinly-veiled means to control population growth, and the hasty nature of their trials are criticized, the initiative to expel deviant individuals from Earth is met with a great deal of support, and over time the JDA comes to wield a tremendous amount of political influence while also boasting the largest single army on the planet.

By the middle of the 25th century, the JDA has become Earth's primary government, and relative stability is achieved. In 2447, however, Earth is faced with another crisis after a nuclear incident in India unexpectedly kills four million people and contaminates food supplies across the continent. Famine soon sets in, which further exacerbates class tensions, as the food stores of those within the wealthier closed communities were largely unaffected. Though rioting is quelled, the disaster greatly raises overall interest in off-world colonization. Edward Dalen, head of the JDA, strikes a deal with the inmates of Earth's prison worlds, offering them their freedom in exchange for their cooperation in exploring and colonizing new planets.

The Imperium Expands

Labeled the Exploratory Corps, Earth's inmate exploratory group is given the equipment necessary to traverse the galaxy and to develop worlds that can support life. The initiative proves to be extremely successful, producing a hundred colonized worlds within a generation, and a thousand within two. All new planets are tightly controlled by the JDA, renamed the Imperium in this time period, with water in particular being rationed closely, and any surpluses being jealously controlled. Though many colonists are dissatisfied with the Imperium's overly zealous role in their lives, none are so bold as to defy them directly. In spite of the JDA's promises of freedom, members of the Exploratory Corps are forced to explore new worlds without end, moving on to the next planet immediately after their last is successfully prepared for settlement. Furthermore, each group is given only enough supplies to survive for two years, causing the entire expedition to die out if it does not prepare its planet expediently.

In 2507, one dissatisfied group of Corps members decide to rebel against their masters, commandeering an Imperium vessel before absconding to Teron, whose population is similarly disillusioned. The Imperium's response is swift and severe. An entire fleet is assigned to deal with the traitors, who are, to a man, publicly executed. In the aftermath, the Imperium seeks to exert even more control over the Exploratory Corps, introducing genetic mutations which limit lifespans to twenty-five years and caus the left eye of all Corps members to turn completely black, making it impossible for them to blend in. The Imperium's efforts are extremely successful in breaking the spirits of the Exploratory Corps, and after colonization slows to a halt, the Marked, as they come to be called, are more often than not forced into menial labor, becoming little more than a slave caste.

Birth of the Freedom Guard

In the twilight of the 26th century, an exceptional young boy belonging to the Marked, Perigil Ilacas, is covertly adopted by a teacher and Marked sympathizer Lajos Cardat. Though he is of genius-level intelligence, in order for the boy to be educated normally, his left eye must be replaced with a cybernetic implant, thus allowing him to avoid the stigma associated with his caste. Ilacas excels in his studies, eventually moving into the field of genetics, where he begins to uncover the true origins and biological basis of the mark. By the age of 22, he has made great strides in his research, but fears that his predetermined life expectancy will prevent him from ultimately reaching his goal of reversing the effects of the mark. With this in mind, he disseminates his findings publicly, hoping that the revelation of the mark and its manufacture by the Imperium will spark others to continue searching for a cure or even shame the Imperium into reversing it.

Within a week's time, Ilacas and all those who aided his research are killed, though this does not stop his message from having its intended effect. Before long, the disenfranchised subjects of the Imperium begin to rise up against their masters, and within a decade an organized resistance movement, the Freedom Guard, solidifies in opposition to the Imperium. Though much smaller and less well-equipped than the Imperium, the Freedom Guard survives largely by engaging in quick tactical strikes that avoid prolonged confrontation. Frustrated by their inability to stamp out a relatively small group of rebels, the Imperium approves the use of a devastating new chemical weapon, the Desiccator, which is capable of dehydrating an entire planet, including its occupants, within minutes. The Imperium hopes that its use will so demoralize the Freedom Guard that they will have no choice but to cease hostilities.

The Togran Foundation

As the civil war between the Freedom Guard and the Imperium expands, it begins to affect a third neutral party known as the Tograns. Also hailing from Earth, the Tograns are known followers of Alpheus Togra, a 24th century physicist and spiritual leader who dedicated his life to the research of element 115, believing that it could quite literally hide the secrets of the universe. Due to tension between the Togran Foundation and the JDA, whom Togra suspected of trying to steal his work, the Tograns leave Earth late in the 24th century, some time prior to the creation of the Exploratory Corps. During a scuffle with JDA forces at the borders of the solar system, Togra is separated from his followers, who continue toward their destination, knowing that they cannot return to Earth.

With many scientific minds among them, the Tograns have no trouble building an idyllic and highly advanced society for themselves on their new homeworld. Though the Tograns initially put themselves to the task of locating their lost patriarch, Togra eventually takes on a messianic role in their society. Thus, they ultimately halt they efforts to locate him, believing that if they are ever in need of him, Togra will find them. Best described as monastic scientists, the Tograns spend most of their time in research, but are equally amenable to prayer and meditation. When the civil war finally reaches their doorstep, they are perhaps less prepared than most to deal with its implications. Their inexperience in the ways of war allows them to be quickly obliterated in the crossfire.

Plot

A probe escapes the destruction of Strata-7.

The player character of Dark Reign is identified as one of the last remaining Tograns, an individual who was able to narrowly escape death during the expansive civil war between the Freedom Guard and the Imperium. By chance or by providence, this survivor makes contact with a strange probe launched some two hundred years prior by the long lost leader of their people, Alpheus Togra. Sent into space just moments before the destruction of Strata-7 and the death of Togra, it houses a singular device that can send a person back through time to retroactively affect the course of events. Though it may be the only chance the Tograns have of saving themselves, it can only be used a single time, and thus it is safeguarded by a series of trials that the user is required to complete before activating it.

The main action of the game revolves around these trials, which take the form of twelve historical reenactments of important battles in the Imperium-Freedom Guard War. The player can choose to participate in each scenario from either the Freedom Guard or the Imperium's perspective, and once all missions have been completed successfully, the player can be transported back in time to defeat both the Freedom Guard and the Imperium in order to save Togra. If this final mission is a success, the player character is united with Togra, who promises to "show mankind what real power is."

Gameplay

A variety of objectives, such as base defense, are interspersed throughout the campaign.

Dark Reign is at its core a traditional real-time strategy game, meaning that gameplay revolves around gathering resources, building structures, and producing units in order to accomplish certain objectives. The main factions of Dark Reign rely on two distinct and fundamental resources to build and maintain their war assets. The first resource, Taelon, is used as a power source. Dedicated power-producing buildings can be constructed, and though they start with a baseline energy output, this output can be significantly increased by gathering Taelon and feeding it into these generators. All player structures have some amount of power draw, and if the amount of energy required to sustain them is not maintained, adverse effects will occur, such as loss of minimap functionality, inefficient turret performance, and sluggish unit production. Dark Reign's second resource, water, is tied to unit and building production, among other things. Players gain currency by collecting and selling water found in freshwater springs, and this currency can then be used to fund new units, buildings, or repairs. Deposits of Taelon and water will never fully deplete on their own, as they continually regenerate, though freshwater springs can be strategically contaminated by way of a Water Contaminator.

The single-player campaign incorporates a number of different objective types, including rescue missions, resource accumulation, and base defense. More often than not, the player is required at some point in these missions to amass a large enough military force to contest and destroy a similarly-equipped opposing faction and their base. The two playable factions of Dark Reign, the Freedom Guard and the Imperium, are differentiated in terms of available units and structures, with units of the former being characterized as somewhat weaker but more maneuverable, and those of the latter as stronger but less nimble. Players are rewarded for playing to the strengths of their faction or exploiting the weaknesses of their opponents', though it is also possible to circumvent one's own weaknesses to a degree by stealing enemy technology. One of the few unit types available to both sides, the Infiltrator can be used to covertly access an enemy's Headquarters, and if they can successfully steal unit schematics and return them to an allied Headquarters, the stolen unit can then be readily produced for the remainder of the mission.

Terrain Effects

Moreso than many RTS titles of its day, Dark Reign places a significant emphasis on the effects of terrain as it applies to units and their capabilities. Changes in elevation, for instance, have a noticeable affect on line-of-sight and fog of war, as units can see farther from higher vantage points, or very little at all if a large obstruction blocks their vision. Terrain effects also extend to basic unit locomotion, as environmental features can dictate how a particular unit gets from one point to another. For the purpose of clarifying their capabilities when traversing a map, all units are designated as either walkers, wheeled or tracked vehicles, hovercraft, or flyers. Ambulatory units can scale steep inclines and cross even difficult terrain, sometimes with movement penalties, though they are incapable of crossing water. Wheeled and tracked units are not able to climb the steepest of inclines, and cannot cross water either, though they gain a large speed boost from roads. Hovercraft have the advantage of being able to cross water and other aqueous environments that typically inhibit other land-based vehicles, though they are incapable of surmounting even gradual inclines. Lastly, flyer types can cross all terrain types with impunity.

A.I. Modification

The Orders menu allows for unit A.I. to be adjusted at any point in a mission.

Another of Dark Reign's unique features is its extensively costumizable unit A.I. In addition to allowing the player to issue orders to their units directly, Dark Reign also allows the behavior of each individual unit to be adjusted as necessary. The Orders menu allows three separate categories to be modified: pursuit range, damage tolerance, and independence. On its lowest setting, pursuit range denies units the ability to pursue attackers, while medium and high settings allow it to purse a short distance or until its opponent is killed, respectively. The damage tolerance modifier determines how long a unit will wait before seeking repairs. At its highest value, a unit will never attempt to seek repairs; when set to medium, it will seek repairs when its health bar is red, and on low a unit will attempt to repair as soon as its health is yellow. The final category, independence, regulates how much leeway a unit has to abandon its orders to attack an enemy. Low independence prevents a unit from attacking if it has other orders to complete. Medium independence allows units, when possible, to attack while carrying out their orders, and high independence gives units the ability to completely abandon orders if hostiles are encountered.

On top of these behavior modifiers, units can also be given specialized orders to scout, harass, or search and destroy. Units ordered to scout will automatically explore the map, uncovering new areas while avoiding confrontation with enemy units and defensive structures. A harassment order is similar in nature, although a unit may fire upon any enemies they find before retreating. Finally, the search and destroy order directs a unit to roam the map, fighting any foes it may find to the death.

Custom Waypoints

Much like its A.I. system does, Dark Reign's waypoint creation system gives players a much larger degree of control than was common in many of its contemporaries. Units can be set to follow elaborate waypoint paths created by the player, which can further be saved and reused as many times as needed. Players can also delete specified points in a path after creating it, and use the waypoint system to create patrol routes for units via different movement options. By default, units will proceed along their designated waypoint paths and stop once they have reached the final point, but it is also possible to direct them to patrol back and forth along the waypoint path, or to immediately loop around to the beginning of the path to repeat the trek once they have reached its terminus.

Units

Generally speaking, units in Dark Reign are produced either from a Headquarters, a Training Facility, or an Assembly Plant. The Headquarters is restricted in scope to producing only Construction Rigs, with the Training Facility and the Assembly Plant focusing on infantry and mechanized units respectively. The Build menu of Dark Reign's interface allows for unit production to be queued from a single window regardless of which building produces them, and a production queue can also be easily paused or cancelled from this menu. Many of Dark Reign's units have specialized capabilities such as morphing or phasing, which can usually be accessed and activated from the Special menu.

Universal Units

Freighter

Freighter

  • Cost: 1,000 Credits
  • Hit Points: 750
  • Type: Wheeled
The basic gathering unit for both the Freedom Guard and the Imperium, the Freighter can collect water or Taelon and haul it to the appropriate storehouse. As wheeled vehicles, they can have some difficulty dealing with rough terrain, and they also have no means of protecting themselves against attackers, though they are fairly durable given that they aren't designed for combat.
Hover Freighter

Hover Freighter

  • Cost: 1,500 Credits
  • Hit Points: 500
  • Type: Hover
The Hover Freighter serves the same basic purpose that the regular Freighter does, although its use of hover technology allows it to easily cross over water and swampy areas that might pose a problem for wheeled Freighters. In addition, it also features a laser turret that allows it a modicum of defense against attacks, though it is somewhat less resistant to damage overall.
Water Contaminator

Water Contaminator

  • Cost: 10,000 Credits
  • Hit Points: 166
  • Type: Tracked
The Water Contaminator is a unique specialty unit that can completely poison any freshwater spring, rendering it utterly useless. Though it can be an extremely useful tool, it is also prohibitively expensive, slow-moving, and comes with a significant production cycle. In spite of these drawbacks, if used properly, a Contaminator can be a veritable death sentence for those it is used against.
Construction Rig

Construction Rig

  • Cost: 300 Credits
  • Hit Points: 100
  • Type: Walker
The backbone of any military installation, the Construction Rig is required to build any and all base structures. The process of erecting a building will consume a Construction Rig, however it will be returned to the player in the event that said building is sold. Rigs are exceedingly fragile and have no real defensive capabilities of their own, thus they must not be left unprotected.
Infiltrator

Infiltrator

  • Cost: 1,000 Credits
  • Hit Points: 66
  • Type: Walker
Infiltrators have the means to disguise themselves as enemy infantry units, allowing covert access to hostile installations. Transformation requires line-of-sight with the unit that is to be emulated, though it does not have to be visible to the Infiltrator itself. Once morphed, the Infiltrator can gain access to an enemy HQ in order to steal unit schematics and return them to their own HQ.
Martyr / Suicide Zombie

Martyr / Suicide Zombie

  • Cost: 600 Credits / None
  • Hit Points: 100
  • Type: Walker
Both Martyrs and Suicide Zombies are kamikaze units that dash toward enemies before detonating. On the Freedom Guard side, Martyrs are largely volunteers who are reaching the end of their twenty-fifth year, whereas the Suicide Zombies of the Imperium are enemy combatants that have been forcibly recruited. Regardless of name, the functionality of the unit remains the same.

Freedom Guard Units

Raider

Raider

  • Cost: 150 Credits
  • Hit Points: 100
  • Type: Walker
The basic Freedom Guard infantry unit, the Raider is equipped with a laser rifle and modest hit points. It can be effective in groups, especially against opposing infantry units, and once a Phasing Facility is built, the Raider also has the option to phase underground. As more powerful units come into play, however, the Raider's unspectacular offence becomes less valuable.
Mercenary

Mercenary

  • Cost: 300 Credits
  • Hit Points: 125
  • Type: Walker
Hoisting massive rail guns over their shoulders, Mercenaries are much more intimidating than standard infantry, and can even pose a credible threat to vehicular units. They are also able to phase once the player has built a Phasing Facility. They present a relatively inexpensive way to defend against mechanize units, though they are somewhat less valuable against other infantry units.
Scout

Scout

  • Cost: 300 Credits
  • Hit Points: 66
  • Type: Walker
As its name implies, the Scout is a unit mostly relegated to information gathering. To this end, the Scout possesses a markedly greater footspeed than the average infantry unit. More importantly, though, it has the unique ability to disguise itself as inanimate environmental objects such as rocks and trees, allowing it to act like a mobile and undetectable Camera Tower.
Sniper

Sniper

  • Cost: 700 Credits
  • Hit Points: 100
  • Type: Walker
The Sniper can be thought of as an offensive version of the Scout. It can morph into innocuous objects for camouflage purposes, and enjoys a longer sight range than most units. When it comes to combat, it is equipped with a deadly electro-magnetic needle gun that can instantly kill most infantry units, though it loses a lot of its punch against non-organic unit types.
Field Medic

Field Medic

  • Cost: 500 Credits
  • Hit Points: 66
  • Type: Walker
Though devoid of any true offensive capability, the Field Medic is a potent infantry support unit that can not only heal organic units, but can also remove the toxic affects of the Imperium's Amper unit. If close enough to an injured infantry unit, the Field Medic will go about its business automatically, though it can also be specifically directed to heal certain units.
Mechanic

Mechanic

  • Cost: 500 Credits
  • Hit Points: 66
  • Type: Walker
The Mechanic functions much like the Field Medic, and similarly has no offense to speak of. Its sole duty is to repair mechanical units that have sustained damage in the field, and for this reason the Mechanic is most useful when intermingled with non-organic units. A large force of tanks accompanied by a cadre of Mechanics can be a dangerous and resilient fighting force.
Saboteur

Saboteur

  • Cost: 800 Credits
  • Hit Points: 100
  • Type: Walker
Being much more specialized than most infantry units, Saboteurs exist for the sole purpose of weakening enemy structures. If a Saboteur can be insinuated into an enemy's base, it can quickly destroy infrastructure, lowering any building's strength by half. Building integrity cannot be brought any lower than fifty percent by means of Saboteurs, however, so a killing blow is still required.
Spider Bike

Spider Bike

  • Cost: 500 Credits
  • Hit Points: 133
  • Type: Special Wheeled
One of the Freedom Guard's more versatile creations, the Spider Bike is fast, reasonably powerful, and fairly inexpensive. It also has little difficulty with rough terrain, making it well-suited for recon work and harassment. Though Spider Bikes will often lose to infantry units, they are adaptable to a large number of situations, and can easily fall back when the odds are unfavorable.
Skirmish Tank

Skirmish Tank

  • Cost: 600 Credits
  • Hit Points: 133
  • Type: Tracked
With utility against many different unit types, the Skirmish Tank is a well-rounded vehicle in many respects. Not only is it effective against both infantry and mechanical units, but it is also capable of firing on airborne targets. For this reason, a group of Skirmish Tanks can make excellent base defenders, as they can tackle any type of unit the enemy may throw at them.
Triple Rail Hover Tank

Triple Rail Hover Tank

  • Cost: 1,300 Credits
  • Hit Points: 200
  • Type: Hover
Undoubtedly one of the Freedom Guard's most powerful units, the Triple Rail Hover Tank is particularly devastating when used against enemy vehicles. Boasting a set of three powerful rail guns, it can quickly shred most mechanical units. Groups of infantry can present problems for the Hover Tank, though, and it also requires protection from aerial foes, as it cannot attack them.
Tank Hunter

Tank Hunter

  • Cost: 700 Credits
  • Hit Points: 150
  • Type: Tracked
The Freedom Guard Tank Hunter is a dedicated anti-armor vehicle that can deliver a powerful jolt of electricity to its target. Unfortunately, the range on this attack is extremely short, and Tank Hunters can easily take heavy casualties as they make their approach. It is often a good idea when deploying them to use a second detachment of units for distraction as they close the distance.
Phase Tank

Phase Tank

  • Cost: 600 Credits
  • Hit Points: 166
  • Type: Tracked
One of the more unusual vehicles in Dark Reign, the Phase Tank possesses the ability to completely bury itself underground, which can be useful in laying ambushes for enemy units. This presents new strategic possibilities, though the Phase Tank is somewhat vulnerable in this state, as it can still be attacked (albeit with reduced damage), but cannot move or attack until it resurfaces.
Hellstorm Artillery

Hellstorm Artillery

  • Cost: 1,100 Credits
  • Hit Points: 133
  • Type: Tracked
The Hellstorm Artillery is a long-range unit that fires area-of-effect shells over great distances. In fact, the Hellstorm has far greater range than any other unit in the game, so much so that it is often prudent to use other units to "spot" for it, allowing a battery to attack from a position of safety. This option is made even more attractive by the fact that Hellstorm Artillery units are slow and fragile.
R.A.T.

Rapid Armored Transport

  • Cost: 450 Credits
  • Hit Points: 200
  • Type: Wheeled
The Rapid Armored Transport, or R.A.T., is a camouflaged troop transport vehicle that can ferry up to five infantry units at a time. It automatically blends with its surroundings while doing so, and it even has the ability to cross over water, although its movement rate is noticeably reduced when doing so. A group of R.A.T.s can expedite a base assault while also reducing the chances of discovery.
Phase Transport

Phase Transport

  • Cost: None
  • Hit Points: 150
  • Type: Underground
The Phase Transport, sometimes called the Phase Runner, can be loaded with up to five units much like the R.A.T. Once loaded, it travels underground, delivering its passengers to any point on the map without risk of being discovered. After it is emptied, the Phase Runner returns automatically to the Phasing Facility, its prerequisite building, where it can be loaded and deployed again.
Base Mover

Base Mover

  • Cost: None
  • Hit Points: 500
  • Type: Tracked
Freedom Guard structures are built with modularity in mind, and at any point they can be broken down and moved to a different location. After a brief "packing" period, a Base Mover is produced, which can be sent to a new location and "unpacked" in order to reconstruct the building. Caution should be exercised when converting a structure to a Base Mover, as the latter is more fragile than the former.
Flak Jack

Flak Jack

  • Cost: 500 Credits
  • Hit Points: 100
  • Type: Walker
The Freedom Guard's only dedicated anti-air unit, the Flak Jack is in fact a repurposed Construction Rig equipped with a pair of shoulder-mounted chaff launchers. While a good option for either defense or offense against aerial units, the Flak Jack has no means of attacking opponents on the ground, meaning that it is imperative to have other units or structures nearby to protect it.
Outrider

Outrider

  • Cost: 1,400 Credits
  • Hit Points: 200
  • Type: Flyer
One of two air-to-ground units available to the Freedom Guard, the Outrider is the slower of the two, but also the more powerful. The major advantage of the Outrider, as is the case with all airborne units, is the fact that many units are unable to target them. They are one of the most expensive offensive units to produce, however, so it is important to refrain from using them overzealously.
Sky Bike

Sky Bike

  • Cost: 800 Credits
  • Hit Points: 100
  • Type: Flyer
The Sky Bike is an aerial version of the Spider Bike, and features many of the same advantages boasted by its land-based counterpart. They are nimble vessels that can easily maneuver around the battlefield, and though they have less raw firepower than the Outrider, their speed allows them to quickly attack and fall back before many foes will be able to properly respond.
Shock Wave

Shock Wave

  • Cost: 4,000 Credits
  • Hit Points: 166
  • Type: Tracked
Though expensive to produce both in terms of the time and money required, the Shock Wave can nonetheless be worth the investment, as it can cause more damage over a short period than any other unit in the game. When activated, it plants itself in the ground and fires in a direction specified by the player. The resultant earthquake destroys the unit itself and devastates anything in its path.

Imperium Units

Guardian

Guardian

  • Cost: 150 Credits
  • Hit Points: 100
  • Type: Walker
Both in purpose and in pure statistical terms, Guardians are nearly indistinguishable from the Freedom Guard's Raiders. They are equipped with laser rifles, and are most effective when used against other infantry regiments. While certain vehicles also have difficulty dealing with infantry units such as the Guardian, in general the Bion and the Exterminator are more well-suited for these situations.
Bion

Bion

  • Cost: 350 Credits
  • Hit Points: 150
  • Type: Walker
The toughest infantry unit in the game, the Bion is also one of the most well-rounded. Being a veritable ambulatory tank, it can tackle any infantry unit comfortably, stand toe-to-toe with many of the game's mechanized units, and even, to an extent, counter foes that attack from the sky. It is slightly better overall than the Freedom Guard's Mercenary unit, though slightly more expensive also.
Exterminator

Exterminator

  • Cost: 500 Credits
  • Hit Points: 75
  • Type: Hover / Walker
Exterminators come with standard-issue anti-gravity generators strapped to their backs. This allows them to hover across water sources that normal infantry would not be able to traverse, though they can also take advantage of the normal benefits of walker units. Their chemical grenade launchers are designed specifically to degrade metal, making them ideally suited for anti-vehicular use.
Amper

Amper

  • Cost: 500 Credits
  • Hit Points: 66
  • Type: Walker
The Amper is something akin to the Freedom Guard's Field Medic, although instead of truly healing allied infantry units, it injects them with a stimulant that will temporarily make them immune to damage, but will thereafter gradually drain their hit points until the unit eventually dies. The Amper is also able to poison enemy infantry with a similar compound that causes slow death.
Hostage Taker

Hostage Taker

  • Cost: 600 Credits
  • Hit Points: 450
  • Type: Wheeled
The grisly Hostage Taker is not exactly a weapon in the traditional sense, but something closer to a mobile weapons factory. During combat, the Hostage Taker can run over enemy infantry units, which draws said unit into the vehicle. This individual is then quickly lobotomized and implanted with an explosive device before being released as a Suicide Zombie to use as the player sees fit.
Scout Runner

Scout Runner

  • Cost: 500 Credits
  • Hit Points: 150
  • Type: Hover
The Scout Runner, alternatively known as the Scout Tank, is a relatively cheap reconnaissance vehicle with the dual advantages of speed and hover technology. They are reasonably effective against infantry units, and, appropriately enough, make terrific scouts. They fare poorly against most vehicles, however, and also lack some of the movement options of the Spider Bike.
Plasma Tank

Plasma Tank

  • Cost: 700 Credits
  • Hit Points: 250
  • Type: Hover
A staple of any Imperium military outfit worth its salt, the Plasma Tank is a solid unit with very little in the way of noticeable weaknesses. It deals respectable damage to both infantry and vehicular units, and takes a fair amount of damage before being destroyed. It also moves at a decent clip over land and water while enjoying the ability to fire while doing so thanks to its turret-mounted plasma cannon.
Tachion Tank

Tachion Tank

  • Cost: 1,500 Credits
  • Hit Points: 410
  • Type: Hover
The Tachion Tank is a significant upgrade over the Plasma Tank in terms of damage potential, the strongest tank available to the Imperium, in fact, though its cost also is greater than that of two Plasma Tanks. It has the built-in option to self-destruct, taking down any nearby enemies in the event that it is overwhelmed, though, given the cost, this option is to be avoided if at all possible.
Shredder

Shredder

  • Cost: 700 Credits
  • Hit Points: 100
  • Type: Hover
Just one of many examples of the Imperium's brutality and disregard for its enemies, the aptly-named Shredder is exactly what it appears to be: a giant hovering saw blade. This weapon was naturally devised for anti-infantry purposes, or to put it more bluntly, it is intended to cut Freedom Guard soldiers in half. With no ranged attack, it is vulnerable until it gets close.
S.C.A.R.A.B.

S.C.A.R.A.B.

  • Cost: 1,300 Credits
  • Hit Points: 133
  • Type: Hover
The Self Contained Armored Ranged Artillery Battery, or S.C.A.R.A.B., is the Imperium's counterpart to the Freedom Guard Hellstorm Artillery. It can fire area-of-effect barrages over great distances, and when threatened, it can protect itself by encasing its chassis in an armored exoskeleton that greatly mitigates damage. The S.C.A.R.A.B. cannot move or attack while this shield is activated.
Invader Troop Transport

Invader Troop Transport

  • Cost: 600 Credits
  • Hit Points: 150
  • Type: Hover
Being analogous to the Freedom Guard's Rapid Armored Transport, the Invader Troop Transport carries up to five infantry units as well, but manages to set itself apart in a few respects. As a hovercraft, it can move faster than the R.A.T., especially over water. Additionally, it is mounted with a laser rifle that gives it some ability, however small, to defend itself against attacks.
M.A.D.

Mobile Air Defense

  • Cost: 800 Credits
  • Hit Points: 150
  • Type: Hover
The Mobile Air Defense unit, or M.A.D., is a dedicated anti-air device not entirely dissimilar to the Flak Jack, and just like the Flak Jack, it has no means of protecting itself against terrestrial attackers. Keeping the M.A.D. in the company of other units not only gives the M.A.D. protection, but likely grants its accompanying units an aerial response they would not otherwise have.
Recon Drone

Recon Drone

  • Cost: 400 Credits
  • Hit Points: 66
  • Type: Flyer
Arguably the best reconnaissance unit in the game, the Recon Drone is a flyer unit, which grants it several advantages over other types of scouts. For one, it has no mobility restrictions, allowing it to fly around the map freely to discover new areas at will. On top of this, its airborne nature automatically protects it against unit types that lack the capability to fire upon flyers.
Cyclone

Cyclone

  • Cost: 1,500 Credits
  • Hit Points: 150
  • Type: Flyer
The Cyclone is a versatile Imperium flying unit that can attack both ground and air targets. Though not as sturdy as the Outrider, the Freedom Guard's toughest aerial unit, it can tackle a larger number of targets, and is nimble enough to hit and fade effectively. Like most flyer units, it is periodically necessary to return Cyclones to a Re-Arming Deck for more ammunition.
Sky Fortress

Sky Fortress

  • Cost: 2,500 Credits
  • Hit Points: 266
  • Type: Flyer
Bringing immense firepower to bear against the Freedom Guard, the Imperium Sky Fortress is home to "the largest plasma cannon known to humanity." With it, the Sky Fortress is capable of blasting entrenched structures into oblivion with only a few salvos. Its firing rate is incredibly slow, however, making it something of a waste of resources when not grouped with other units.

Structures

Unlike units, structures in Dark Reign are largely mirrored between the two sides, with very few buildings not having some direct cognate within the opposing faction. In many instances, these buildings will still have appearances unique to their faction despite the fact that their purpose remains largely the same. There are no dedicated building repair units in Dark Reign, so in the event of an attack, the player is expected to manually select the repair icon from the game's HUD in order to select which buildings to repair. This can be done even while the structure is still under attack, which can be useful in saving a building that might otherwise have been destroyed. Buildings can also be sold in order to recoup some of the cost spent constructing it; selling a building will also result in the return of the Construction Rig used in its creation.

Freedom Guard AppearanceImperium AppearanceDescription
Water Launch Pad
  • Identical

Water Launch Pad

  • Cost: 2,500 Credits
  • Hit Points: 1,300
One of the most vital structures for both the Freedom Guard and the Imperium, the Water Launch Pad is used to store collected water before it is sold. Launch Pads come by default with a single Freighter upon completion, and it is best to place the building as close to a freshwater spring as possible so as to reduce the length of the Freighter's trips.
Taelon Power Generator
  • Identical

Taelon Power Generator

  • Cost: 2,000 Credits
  • Hit Points: 1,450
The second of two critical base support structures, the Taelon Power Generator supplies energy to all other buildings. It starts out producing power at about half capacity, and like the Water Launch Pad, it comes with a single Freighter. In this case, the Freighter is meant to seek out Taelon deposits and return them to the Generator, thereby increasing its output.
Camera Tower
  • Identical

Camera Tower

  • Cost: 200 Credits
  • Hit Points: 150
The Camera Tower offers the ability to establish permanent line-of-sight in a particular area. It is cheap to construct and does not consume a Construction Rig as most buildings do, and it also provides a larger sight radius than a unit can. Still, they are fragile and entirely defenseless, so they require protection.
Bridge
  • Identical

Bridge

  • Cost: 100 Credits / 150 Credits (Junction)
  • Hit Points: 400
Coming in horizontal, vertical, and junction varieties, the Bridge allows fast access over water. This is obviously most useful for units without hover technology, as it can prevent them from having to take lengthy alternate routes. The junction Bridge takes slightly longer and costs slightly more to build, though it is also wider.
FG Headquarters
IMP Headquarters

Headquarters

  • Cost: 750 Credits / 1,000 Credits (Upgrade 1) / 1,250 Credits (Upgrade 2)
  • Hit Points (FG): 1,200 / 2,400 (Upgrade 1) / 3,600 (Upgrade 2)
  • Hit Points (IMP): 1,440 / 2,880 (Upgrade 1) / 4,330 (Upgrade 2)
An integral structure in terms of construction and expansion, the Headquarters is responsible for producing Construction Rigs, and also enables the player's minimap. Furthermore, the structure can be upgraded two times in total, allowing the player to construct new structures and commission new units with each upgrade.
FG Training Facility
IMP Training Facility

Training Facility

  • Cost: 1,500 Credits / 750 Credits (Upgrade)
  • Hit Points (FG): 750 / 1,500 (Upgrade)
  • Hit Points (IMP): 900 / 1,800 (Upgrade)
The nexus for all infantry training and deployment, the Training Facility produces infantry units for both the Freedom Guard and the Imperium, though the exact units that are produced differs according to faction. In either case, the Training Facility can be upgraded once in order to produce more advanced infantry.
FG Assembly Plant
IMP Assembly Plant

Assembly Plant

  • Cost: 2,200 Credits / 2,500 Credits (Upgrade)
  • Hit Points (FG): 1,000 / 2,000 (Upgrade)
  • Hit Points (IMP): 1,200 / 2,400 (Upgrade)
The mechanoid counterpart to the Training Facility, the Assembly Plant is responsible for producing most vehicular units. What units can be produced is once again dependent on faction, and like the Training Facility, it can be upgraded, making it stronger and unlocking new unit types for production.
FG Field Hospital
IMP Field Hospital

Field Hospital

  • Cost: 500 Credits
  • Hit Points (FG): 600
  • Hit Points (IMP): 720
The Field Hospital is a dedicated medical facility that can heal any infantry unit without cost. This is perhaps more useful for the Imperium than the Freedom Guard, as they lack a dedicated Field Medic, though both can certainly benefit. Units must physically travel to the Hospital for healing, and it only one unit can be healed at a time.
FG Repair Station
IMP Repair Station

Repair Station

  • Cost: 800 Credits
  • Hit Points (FG): 600
  • Hit Points (IMP): 720
Essentially a Field Hospital for machines, the Repair Station can restore mechanical units to full health for free. As with the Hospital, the Imperium will usually derive more mileage from the Repair Station than the Freedom Guard, as they have no in-field repair unit to rely on. Only one unit can be repaired at any given time.
FG Laser Turret
IMP Plasma Turret

Light Turret

  • Cost: 500 Credits
  • Hit Points: 400
Though somewhat different in nature, the Laser and Plasma Turrets serve roughly similar roles. They are the first line of defense against enemy encroachment, with a particular emphasis on turning back infantry assaults. The Plasma Turret is somewhat better at dealing with armored vehicles, though neither will hold up against large groups.
FG Heavy Rail Platform
IMP Neutron Accelerator

Heavy Turret

  • Cost: 1,700 Credits
  • Hit Points: 550
As upgrades to the basic base defense structures for each side, the Heavy Rail Platform and Neutron Accelerator are primarily designed to deal with more sophisticated vehicular opponents that regular turrets can't handle. Lesser turrets can still be useful, however, as Heavy Turrets are not always the best option for warding off infantry.
FG Air Defense Site
IMP Air Defense Site

Air Defense Site

  • Cost: 1,000 Credits
  • Hit Points (FG): 600
  • Hit Points (IMP): 720
In most cases, regular turrets cannot target flyer units. For these situations, both factions have access to an Air Defense Site that can specifically target and destroy aerial foes. It is incapable of attacking any other type of foe, however, so placing it amongst other turrets or assigning it a protective detail is usually important.
FG Re-Arming Deck
IMP Re-Arming Deck

Re-Arming Deck

  • Cost: 1,000 Credits
  • Hit Points (FG): 800
  • Hit Points (IMP): 960
Unlike most units, flyers are typically restricted in their offensive potential by the amount of ammo they can carry. Because of this, building flyer units in any significant capacity necessitates the construction of a Re-Arming Deck. When low on ammo or otherwise unoccupied, flyers can be sent to a Re-Arming Deck to reload their munitions.
FG Phasing Facility
IMP Temporal Gate

Phasing Facility / Temporal Gate / Rift Creator

  • Cost (FG): 1,200 Credits / 1,200 Credits (Upgrade)
  • Cost (IMP): 1,800 Credits / 8,000 Credits (Rift Creator)
  • Hit Points (FG): 1,000 / 2,000 (Upgrade)
  • Hit Points (IMP): 1,000 / 1,000 (Rift Creator)
Though the particulars differ, both the Freedom Guard and the Imperium have structures that enable rapid trasport over large distances. In addition to allowing certain units to phase, the Phasing Facility, when upgraded, houses a Phase Transport that ferries units underground. The Temporal Gate simply produces a portal that can transport three units anywhere on the map. The Imperium can also construct the Rift Creator, which creates an offensive version of the portal, a powerful vortex.

Reception

Dark Reign was well-received overall at the time of its release. GameSpot reviewer Vince Broady gave the game an Editors' Choice award, commenting that Dark Reign was "one of the most impressive games released this year in any genre." In particular, Broady praised the game for fixing some of the nagging issues associated with the RTS genre, such as poor control over unit production. Broady also applauded the game's waypoint and A.I. modification systems as innovative, though he found the game's implementation of terrain effects to be somewhat lackluster. PC Gamer likewise gave the game an Editors' Choice award, and reviewer Dan Bennett's positive remarks were largely similar, calling attention to and commending the game for giving players more options for controlling their base and army than was common at the time. Special mention was also given to the game's editor, which Bennett described as "excellent." In one of his few criticisms of the game, Bennett stated that Dark Reign's large emphasis on controllable unit A.I. could occasionally backfire, as units would not always behave intelligently.

Minimum System Requirements

  • IBM PC compatible computer
  • Pentium 90Mhz processor
  • Windows 95 operating System
  • 16MB of RAM
  • Double speed CD-ROM
  • 60MB Hard Disk Space
  • PCI video card with 1Mb of RAM

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