Not only does Dark Reign Expansion: Rise of the Shadowhand offer fans of the Dark Reign strategy game all new options and maps, it significantly builds upon the foundation laid in the original version. The most noticeable thing is the inclusion of two new (though not entirely original) races. Where the original game had two different sides to play, the expansion has four. The Shadowhand is a mobile bunch that relies on versatility rather than speed. They originated from the Imperium force and share some of the same technology. Then there are the Xenites, a largely alien race that seem to borrow techniques from the Freedom Guard. As opposed to the Shadowhand, they rely on strength and tend to be less agile in movement.
Though the two new races are based on the original teams, each has new units and weapons. For example, the Xenites have creatures called Gants and Grendels, a fearsome bunch. They also have weapons and units that can disable a base's power supply as well as terrain units called Terraformers. The Shadowhand uses these Terraformers and has an answer to each of the Xenites' units. They have tank technology that allows transformation into other units, massive robotic units called Reapers and a flame-emitting Hades Bomber. Each team is balanced, which is very important. The teams, including the two originals, all seem to do well against each other and have no real weakness that one side can exploit. Team strength balances out the weakness.
The action encompasses over 14 new single player maps as well as some user-created scenarios. If this isn't enough for you, take your strategy know-how to the Internet. This is definitely one of the strongest points of Dark Reign Expansion: Rise of the Shadowhand. There is an all-new batch of new multiplayer maps and, with the addition of the extra teams, it seems to deepen the experience tremendously. Those familiar with playing the original game on ActiveLink will notice that the network code has been streamlined to perfection. The latency tends to be very low and manageable.
It's a rare occasion when a sequel or expansion pack is actually better than the original game on which it was based. Dark Reign Expansion: Rise of the Shadowhand is one of these occasions. With the inclusion of two new races, a ton of new and smartly designed units and a great Internet life, it surpasses Dark Reign on almost every plane. Fans of the original will be sorely missing out by passing this expansion pack by. To do so would be a big mistake.
Graphics: The battlefields are nicely detailed and each unit is nicely represented.
Sound: Some of the new unit sound effects can be a bit iffy at times. Overall, though, the soundtrack and voice-overs provide a decent aural experience.
Enjoyment: Great new single player maps combined with two all new races as well as added depth in new units make Dark Reign Expansion: Rise of the Shadowhand a very enjoyable experience. This is especially true in the multiplayer aspect of the game.
Replay Value: With decent multiplayer support and all new maps, this expansion pack has a very long life.
People who downloaded Dark Reign: Rise of the Shadowhand have also downloaded:
Dark Reign: The Future of War, Dark Reign 2, Dark Colony, Emperor: Battle for Dune, Earth 2160, Earth 2140, Dune 2: The Battle for Arrakis, Dominion: Storm Over Gift 3
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