Mars turns into a battlefield in Dark Colony, a real-time strategy game where war wages between Earth marines and alien Gray warriors. Each is equipped with their own unique units and structures.
The comic-like story and graphics put a new twist on this real-time simulation. At times, Dark Colony invokes memories of the film Aliens. In a fire fight gone bad, it's a little too much like the film Game Over Man, Game Over!. Having tough guys around, like S.A.R.G.E., keeps the marines in line ("The deadliest weapon in the world is a marine and his rifle!") and vehicles like the Exploiter can raise the body count to maximum levels! Playing the aliens is an interesting twist on the real-time genre, offering quite different and interesting units as the Grays use biotechnology. Their minions are bio-engineered creatures that can tear apart the human's reliance on mechanics. While some real time games say each side is unique, in Dark Colony the forces are as different as night and day.
Because Mars was in the process of being made more Earth-like, the combat takes place in three different terrain types, including jungle, desert, and underground--each with its own unique indigenous creatures. These terrain types help keep the game fairly fresh, but, like many real time games, players can get bogged down wandering in aimless canyons trying to complete an individual mission.
Overall, the graphics are very nice, evoking images of a game of miniatures; the marine units look like many of the sci-fi miniature combat simulations (without the hassle of all that painting).
More than anything, Dark Colony proves that we're all the same. Earth needs Mars to expand and solve the problems of over-population and lack of land. The Grays need Mars also to save their shattered civilization. Both sides really want peace, or rather, a piece of Mars!
Graphics: Not exactly cutting edge
Sound: Better than the graphics
Enjoyment: Blasting aliens can be fun
Replay Value: Once seems to be enough
Dark Colony is a 1997 real-time strategy game. In the near future, humans will colonize Mars in order to extract a precious gas called Petra-7. The problem is, a group of refugee Roswell-type aliens has also laid claim to Mars and are not happy about the filthy humans trying to pollute their atmosphere with oxygen. What's more, 60 million years or so ago, Mars was inhabited by an extremely advanced race which left some ruins and artifacts around. Finally, Mars is populated by a number of indigenous creatures which roam around aimlessly. And we thought all Mars had was maybe some microbes!
Dark Colony's game play is much like other's of its genre. Players build a base, build a unit to collect the 'money', and build fighting units for attack and defense. Base construction is fairly limited in Dark Colony. Only four buildings may be constructed, and 2 of those may later be upgraded. All base construction is centered around a concrete spire, which severely limits design. Once the four buildings have been constructed and the two upgraded, that's it. You are also limited to the one concrete spire, which means that if you are on a large map, it can take ages for a new unit to get to the front line.
The unit mix is about average. Standard infantry, heavy assault and artillery units are available. A disappointment is that each side has only one air unit, which is pretty weak. I would expect that in the future, the air war would be just as important as it is today, especially on a planet with weaker gravity such as Mars. I was disappointed to see that the two sides in this game, Humans and Grays, are extremely similar. The only differences between the two sides are the unit pictures and the fact that Humans fight better in the day while Grays fight better at night.
The artifacts left behind by the ancient race that once inhabited Mars are a nice touch. It helps to compensate for the sameness of the two forces. The graphics are also nicely done. I especially enjoyed the nighttime effect with colors becoming faded gray and the units viewing radius decreasing.
The computer's AI plays a very aggressive game, which is a welcome change from the type of AI which just sits there fortifying until you come and attack. The player's own units are actually quite stupid. If you have a group of units standing on sentry, and a group of enemy attack, perhaps half of your forces will engage the enemy while the rest just stand there and do nothing to help. You must make sure all nearby forces help when you are under attack, otherwise your troops will just stand around while the soldiers just next to them fight the attackers.
As real-time strategy games go, Dark Colony is a little below average. If it had come out 2 years ago, before Warcraft and Command & Conquer, it would have been something special. Unfortunately, it fails to distinguish itself from the other games of its type already out there. It really has little to recommend it when compared to the other real-time strategy games out there except for its aggressive AI.
People who downloaded Dark Colony have also downloaded:
Dark Reign: The Future of War, Dark Reign 2, Dune 2000, Dark Reign: Rise of the Shadowhand, Command & Conquer: Red Alert, Emperor: Battle for Dune, Dark Legions, Dark Planet: Battle for Natrolis
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