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We have received quite a bit of mail lately concerning our Dark Reign 2 review, some saying we actually gave the game too high a mark, and there were some who disagreed and felt the game was graded too harshly. So we decided to post a few letters from each side and then respond to them as a whole...so to be fair, we list the good and bad letters in rotating order:

 

I got Dark Reign 2 on the week end and i played it for a few hours. A few hours after that i was examining my receipt. So let me ask you of all people this question: why are you the only site that gave this game the right mark when this game was said by every other site to be some big time game? I am going back to E1250. But you're wrong about the soundtrack and sounds, they suck too. It just wasn't fun and the graphics were mediocre a lot of the time like on the annoying green billboards for example.and especially with those damn in-engine movies with the stupid epileptic looking characters and all. I have family that work as game developers and they thought the game was weak too when they saw it. But I disagree about your Diablo review though, that game was better than what you all gave it. Thanks...

Greg.

 

Um, you missed a few things when you were playing Dark Reign 2. Like, rotating the camera for instance. Hold down both mouse buttons or the scroll wheel and move the mouse. Not sure why you felt like they stuck you with only four perspectives. Also, did you try using free-look? Hold f and move the mouse in any direction, even up. Not sure what other RTS you think looks better than DR2 but its easily the most beautiful one out there. I can't believe you would say it looks dated! This is the first game to use MRM and it shows! The frame rate stays silky even during huge battles. As far as depth, did you try multiplayer yet? If you're only into single-player, I can't vouch for it, but MP rocks hard. Generic? Did you try concussion bombs, vulcan mines, stasis boats, spies or any of the mojos? I think you didn't give this game a chance.

Charlie

 

62 percent?!?! Think that was low enough!? damn! Well i do too. :) I play ALL RTS games that i can buy and i was almost out of money from all the stuff that i bought last week like Majesty and Ground Control, BUT, BUT, i set aside a special wad of dough for Dark Reign 2 and i swear, i have never been happier to see an uninstall mechanism work so quickly because this game just had too many things wrong with it. Like you said, the camera is *ucked up and the two sides (although you said they were alien or something, but i think they are actually human people) are boring to use and construct stuff with etc.. The graphics were also so boring and i got tired of the stupid noises in the game. So now that it is gone, hats off to you for getting it right...i think a lot of people are too easy on games a lot of the time and looking at your other reviews, you aren't unfair (that often haha).

Tang

 

Umm about you're review about dark reign 2, i wanna clear up a few issues:
1. read the manual, jda/sprawler are in fact human races not alien
2. read the manual, press the 'f' key and move mouse, you will find you *love* the camera
3. the graphics if you care to read many other reviews are probably greatest considering the size of maps and 3d models on screen
4. ok i stress this, because dark reign 2 USES full 3d, press 'f' when using camera also buttons F1 - F6 change height/perspective
5. ditzy voices? flirt.....jeez man, its what i call originality
6. sorry to say this, but in a way ground control is not exactly an RTS, its more personal, controlling fewer units
7. did i remind you about using 'f' key for turning camera?
no really man, you based most of your bad opinions on the camera, and once you realize its true potential i bet you will up the % by at least 10 only on camera control =)

maUru

 

We respond....

There is a reason a lot was blamed on the camera: it is a 3D RTS and the camera is CRUCIAL to making a game in full 3d work. Anyone remember Force Commander? The HUGE reason that made that game get such low marks from all over the place was the fact that the camera was pitiful and overcomplicated.
Now, DR2's camera isn't pitiful, but it is poorly designed in our opinion. The camera in DR2 has separate controls for every axis of movement which translates in up to 16 key/mouse buttons (17 if you have a scroll wheel) to control the camera and thus is NOT intuitive to use at all. The game lost about 8-10 percent right there for that alone and would have scored at least a 70% to start off with if the camera control had at least been reduced by 8 keys. Fact is, you have the following keys to use in DR2:

-F1, F2, F3, F4, F5, F6 (for varying stages in overhead/ground views)
-The four arrow keys for directional movement (somewhat optional).
-The four num-pad keys, for default quick angle switching (the four perspectives i was referring to-my fault for not clearing that up)
-The right mouse button for quick scrolling directional movement
-The mouse scroll for alternative overhead/ground views control.
-The 'F' key for free-viewing (which doesn't let you move in any other way while being adjusted)

Now, i might have even missed something, but count 'em-that's a lot of buttons for controlling a camera when the latest standard setting RTS uses only TWO buttons for basic camera control-both being on the mouse (Earth 2150). Even Ground Control only uses around 8. Sorry, but that was too hard too ignore as some of our readers agreed.

As for the mislabeling of the JDA and Sprawlers as 'alien', that wasn't intended as anything other than sarcasm which was not remedied at any later point in the article-apologies for that.

To comment on the generic gameplay, i am afraid that many of our staff also believed the game to offer nothing substantially new in the RTS field. It neither broke new ground, nor did it improve old ground very well. And since the quality of a game has to be judged by those games around it that set the standards for quality, we believed this game did not surpass those standards. Gameplay really does offer nothing new in Dark Reign 2, and although some may like it, those looking for a review on how the gameplay fares in comparison to the other recent biggies...well...it just doesn't rank that great at all in our opinion-it was just 'ok'.

As for graphics, once again, this game doesn't offer the most beautiful sights one has ever seen. I would say the graphics are 'good', but not great as was agreed upon by one of the above readers. This game simply doesn't stand above the rest or even shoulder to shoulder with them. Units and buildings aren't stunningly unique and with only 2 sides to choose from, that is a turn off to a lot of people. But, to speak anymore about the graphics and sound etc. would also be somewhat of a waste because some people thought the music was great for the game (like myself) and others did not (like one of the above readers). It is based heavily on personal preferences.

Personally, add a 3rd side (2 percent), fix the camera (8-10 percent)and improve the sides' unit/building uniqueness (4 percent), and their capabilities (4 percent) and this game is at an 80-all without touching the graphics or animations. I don't believe that graphics always necessarily make a good game, but this game had too many shortcomings in terms of gameplay and camera usage that just made it blend in with the rest of the RTS crowd. The game's design just seems a tad uninspired i hate to say from start to finish.

We play A LOT of games here at Head 2 Head so we see everything that comes through the door and since we've played all these games, we can compare to games that a lot of people haven't even played. Many of you admittedly hadn't played those other games like Earth 2150 and Ground Control-only DR2. We can't say much about that...without having played the others, there is nothing to compare to. So we acknowledge anyone who didn't agree with this particular review, but we also stand by our reviews and grades. We won't change because people aren't happy with our opinions (and some of you did ask us to change it) but that also means we will never ask you to change yours. We just promise that we will always hear you out and provide an open forum for you when we can. And we love the letters-good OR bad. This site is open to everyone's thoughts and we welcome them. :)

Thanks

Tristinian and the Head 2 Head Staff