Dark Colony

Dark Colony wasn’t breaking new grounds with its formulaic mechanics or hackneyed humans vs. aliens plot. These initial clues alone suggest a derivative, mediocre effort that’s hardly worth playing. Surprisingly, though, the clues are misleading. While Dark Colony is indeed derivative, a little closer examination reveals enough differences from the standard RTS mold to set it apart as a passable gaming experience.

Snap32_1Dark Colony’s premise is simple: while terraforming Mars for colonization, humanity hits a roadblock in the form of bug-eyed, tabloid-style aliens. These aliens (called the Taar) are looking for a few good worlds to call their own, and don’t want any pesky humans underfoot. The result, naturally, is full-scale war. While the futuristic setting of Dark Colony suggests a Command & Conquer clone, Dark Colony is modeled very closely on Warcraft II. Like Warcraft II, Dark Colony features a relatively small selection of combat units (only ten per side) for the player to build.

Snap81_1Whether you choose to play the humans or the aliens, a commander appears in every campaign mission. This commander is the only unit that is transferred from one mission to the next. He gains experience as he racks up kills, and thereby increases both his rank and abilities. He can “inspire†nearby troops to make them fight better, and can occasionally call for reinforcements. When the commander is reduced to dangerously low health, he’s beamed away to safety – so you needn’t worry about losing the mission just because your commander got killed.

Some players will be disappointed with the relative lack of unit variety, both in terms of sheer numbers and in the fact that both sides’ units are mirror images of one another. This is a definite downside, but on the other hand, it allows the game to be balanced very finely. For better or worse, Dark Colony chooses to stick with Warcraft II’s simple elegance and adds only a few legitimate innovations. The formula stays largely intact, save for a radical change of scenery and a few welcome improvements.

System Requirements: Pentium 90 Mhz, 16 MB RAM, Windows 95/98

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