A Dark Day for My Computer...
Dark Colony is the latest in a string of real-time strategy games
to hit the market. 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
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.
Perhaps I'm griping, but the amount of headache a documentation error can cause is like a
bad joke. No one laughs and no one appreciates the time that was
wasted on it. The box of Dark Colony spells out its system
requirements pretty plainly and accurately. In fact, I think it
is without error except for one small point, the mouse. The Dark
Colony documentation says Logitech users must have driver version
6.42 or higher. Don't believe it! You must have version 7.2 to
run this game. I didn't know this and so through an odd set of
circumstances, my DirectX was messed up and it took 4 hours to
fix it. Bottom line, get a new mouse driver.
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.