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Dark Planet

Score: 50%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Ubisoft Entertainment
Developer: Edgies
Media: CD/1
Players: 1 - 8
Genre: Real-Time Strategy

Graphics & Sound:

A lot seems to have gone into the graphics of Dark Planet, but unfortunately they bring little effect to the game. Despite the fact that there are three different races to choose from, each races' units specific to them look too much alike at times, creating confusion in the middle of battle. The 3D graphics are a nice touch, though, and the landscapes are rich with plant and animal life that seems content in their own elements. The only problem is that the trees can block the view of the action at times, no matter which angle you view it from. Also, when a lot of units get together, they tend to clump together into a small, unidentifiable group. The graphics are nice, if you like staring at a deciduous, lively, alien world, but they do the gameplay no good.

Though the graphics are a hindrance, the sound couldn't be much better. First of all, the music does a good job conveying a very alien atmosphere, if not generally sci-fi. The sound effects fit the part nicely, from the spitting of the laser fire to the screams of man and lizard (and bug) death throes. Kudos on this part.


Gameplay:

Dark Planet is a basic Real-Time Strategy game and not much else. There are three different sides, each with their own unique theme. The ever-colonizing humans and their technological know-how make up one, the defending home team of primitive lizards makes up another, and a strange insect-like species makes up the third group.

Each is unique in their own way, but there seems to have been one set of units that was translated to each of the groups. One side's units have a sort of twin on the other two sides, making the side selection based mostly on story line and look instead of strategy.

The Campaign for each side is basically the same as well, starting you out learning and gradually moving you up to bigger and better tasks. They all basically follow a single story, and you'll notice the mission crossovers if you play all three sides. While the story is well put together and makes the game flow nicely, it doesn't allow for very many great missions. Beginning missions usually require you to go destroy a few buildings, and the later missions are just the early ones but on a larger scale.

The Multiplayer mode is a far cry from the saving grace of this game, but it's there and that is something. A couple game modes and enough maps are supplied for you to make do with as you will. Though none of it is very original, it does stretch the worth of this game a little bit longer.


Difficulty:

A trio of difficulty levels accommodates your playing enjoyment in Dark Planet. The game is not overly difficult to begin with, and counting the ability to change to the difficulty, anyone who can read should be able to play this game. Three tutorial missions for each race are provided, and they basically convey the simple aspects of the game.

Game Mechanics:

Somehow, with all the other RTS games that came before it, Dark Planet couldn't quite get the controls right. With a fully 3D world to play in, you can only rotate the camera in ninety degree increments, which lets the view of the action escape you at crucial moments. And though you can zoom in so close as to look at the units' faces, there always seems to be too many trees blocking the view. The other giant pitfall of the control system is unit selection. Grouping units is done in the same fashion as most other RTS games, but when you press the button to select a group, it automatically centers the screen on their position. During a battle, you'll find the screen jumping all over the place, disorienting your perspective on things. Why they didn't make this feature accessible by double clicking is beyond me.

Despite its flashy graphics, good music, and interesting plot, Dark Planet turns out to be just another clone. It's a shame that the gameplay couldn't live up to the other aspects of this game, because this could have been a really good one. Let it be a lesson, then, that gameplay should always be the number one priority for making games, and no amount of superficial aspects can turn that around. Unless you have a serious fetish for RTS games, you'll want to stay away from this one.


-Snow Chainz, GameVortex Communications
AKA Andrew Horwitz

Minimum System Requirements:



Windows 98/2K/ME/XP, 250 MB Hard Disk Space, 400 MHz processor, 16MB Video Card, 4x CD-ROM
 

Test System:



Windows 98, 1.4GHz AMD Athlon, GeForce 2 mx 32MB video card, 40 gig hard drive, 56x CD-ROM, 256MB DDR Ram, Sound Blaster Live! sound card, T1 Internet connection

Windows Clusterball Windows Deadly Dozen

 
Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated