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Review by: Pete Hines
Published: July 5, 1998
Dominion: Storm Over Gift3 originally began as simply Dominion under 7th Level’s development studios. Then 7th Level got out of gaming and Ion Storm bought the rights to the game so they could finish and distribute it. According to the people I talked to, and based on versions of the game I got to play, the game was nearing completion last summer. I was curious to see what exactly Ion Storm had done with the title and how much different it would be. To be honest, it looked and played pretty much the same as far as I could tell.
The original premise of the title was an RTS game that expanded on 7th Level’s mech game, called G-Nome. The same four races are included (Humans, Darkens, Scorps, and Mercs) and some of the mechanized vehicles in the game will look familiar to anyone who played G-Nome. The game includes four separate campaigns, one for each race, and the object of each is basically to eliminate the bad guys. Because these races have been fighting so long, their technologies are all fairly similar as a result of the stealing and obtaining of each other’s secrets.
In fact, everyone in Dominion pretty much shares the same units. They are differentiated from one race to the next in a couple of manners. First, each race has its own “personality” and the units are a reflection of that. Humans, as usual, are the balanced race that features a sort of “average” approach to costs, speed, and strength. The armor on Human units is average as is the time to build any given unit. Scorp units have weak armor and weapons, but are less expensive to build in terms of resources and so they rely more on numbers than on the abilities of the individual units. Merc units are expensive to build and also have weak armor, but their weapons are quite powerful and the Widow Maker can quickly swing the tide of battle. Finally, the Darken possess excellent armor, are slow and expensive to build and their weapons are average.
All races have the ability to build soldiers, who are the grunts of the fighting force, and commanders. There are two levels of soldiers. One is pretty basic and carries rifles while the others carry bazookas and can do better damage against better armored units. Commanders are leader units that improve the effectiveness of the soldiers they command and can heal troops. They’ll order your men to crawl when attacked, which reduces their chance of being hit, and heal them when they are idle. PHVs are robotic units that are capable of shooting or running over soldiers and can detonate on any unit or structure, causing extra damage. Engineers are a particularly useful personnel unit that can capture enemy structures or inject them with a virus. Viruses can cut power production, cause units to be built already damaged, or even cause new soldiers to belong to you. As a defensive tool engineers can remove viruses and heal damaged buildings.
Most of the vehicles are pretty standard for an RTS game. You’ve got your different types of tanks, which also have the ability to detonate on enemy units and structures. Recon vehicles aren’t much good for fighting but they’re cheap and good for finding out what the enemy is up to. Hovers have light armor but powerful bombs, but can only move in areas of the map that have already been uncovered. Teleport vehicles serve as a sort of remote that work with the telepad and enable you to transport troops across the map. Bipeds are two-legged mechanized walkers that sport serious weaponry and can be a real handful to deal with. They also have the ability to detonate.
All of the races have a special unit that is different from the others. This special attack unit is really the only unit that is truly distinctive from the others in Dominion. The Humans have the M-Cat, which can paralyze enemy vehicles or towers for a period of time. The Darken Cloaker can target friendly units and make them invisible to the enemy until they fire their weapons or open up to unload enemy units. The Merc Widow Maker can target enemy units and bring them under Merc control, essentially capturing them from a distance and turning them on the enemy. Finally, the Scorp Digger can transport infantry and engineers across the map underground to any location that can be seen, at which time they are invulnerable and invisible to the enemy.
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