Dark Reign Expansion: Rise of the Shadowhand
The story begins about the same time the original Dark Reign ended. The Imperium is making its final push to destroy the freedom guard once and for all. A fleeing freedom guard ship enters a foldgate (a manmade wormhole) and finds itself on the other side of the galaxy with no way to get home. There is a catch to this scenario, the Shadowhand are already here. You can play as either of two new groups that join the fray in the expansion pack. The Xenite, a fleeing group of freedom guard, forced to adapt to a hostile planet on the far side of the galaxy, or the Shadowhand, the Imperium’s ultra secret police agency.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
Rise of the Shadowhand is an expansion pack, and as such the controls and interface have not been changed.
So I start on the new missions for the first time, and here I am one minute into the first Xenite mission, DEAD. I made the fatal mistake of attacking some of the indigenous life forms. I don't know about you, but when the animal population wipes me off the face of the planet faster than the high-tech Gestapo can find me, I tend to get annoyed. I thought that the missions were a bit challenging at times. I'm not saying that there is nothing good about this add-on, there were some good points to the expansion pack. First, I think that the addition of the terraformers is a great improvement. This feature can be used to alter the land from harsh ground to paved road, making it easier to move units around the map. It is also useful in changing the landscape from easily accessible terrain to swampland as a stumbling block for your opponent. For those serious dark reign players it added a whole new strategy to the game. Second, some of the fixes in the new patch couldn't help but make the game better. I still like the individual unit AI and waypoint system within Dark Reign, I think that they were quite innovative at the time. I just wish that they would migrate some of these features to an up-to-date game.
The graphics, while good, are still nothing to write home about. Same type of graphics as the original Dark Reign, just with some new terrain and new units.
The sound effects are the same as most real-time strategy game -- interesting and sometimes humorous, but after hearing them a million times, extremely annoying. I was somewhat disappointed with the unit sounds, as they were monotonous and annoyed me more than anything else.
Pentium-90 MHz processor, Windows 95, 16 MB RAM, 4X CD-ROM drive, 60 MB of uncompressed hard disk space, VESA local bus or PCI video with 1 MB RAM, 256-color SVGA (640x480) video card
The documentation, while sparse, was quite enough for an expansion pack.
Besides adding two new sides to play with six or eight new units apiece, 18 new multiplayer missions, and fixing a hoard of playability issues, there is just not all that much to recommend about the expansion pack. If you’re a die-hard Dark Reign fanatic and you can’t stop playing it, then it is a must-have. If, like me, you thought it was fun and quite innovative when it first came out, but have moved on to bigger and better things, then it is just not worth picking up. I think that it is a case of too little, too late. It is not going to entice you into pulling the Dark Reign CD back off the rack and playing it again, at least not for long.