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Review by: Richard Leader
Published: December 18, 2002
The film industry is constantly hammered by critics who accuse advertising executives of hamstringing the efforts of directors by raiding the best material of films and forming it into short trailers that are either not representative of the whole or divulge that which should remain secret. A similar phenomenon exists in the gaming industry; however, we mustn’t blame the ever-friendly folks in marketing, but the existence of the multiplayer mode. If one is to be implemented, it’s necessary to expose and explain all of the relevant information for the various factions of a game in the documentation – even if their introduction in the single-player mode is intended to be a surprise. As such, our onscreen counterparts seldom are aware of what’s going on as we are ourselves.
Hegemonia, the latest space faring RTS by Digital Reality and DreamCatcher Interactive, is among the titles that have succumbed to this trend. Combining the massively popular look of Relic’s Homeworld and their own Imperium Galactica setting, Hegemonia is easily the most complex offering in its genre. Not only are unit construction, resource harvesting and research implemented, players will also have to build colonies, set taxation levels and even form trade routes.
The story begins with a conflict between humans. Earth, despite its greater population and resources, has fallen behind the Martian colonies in the race for space age technologies. The competition between the two peoples has recently escalated into all out war. Players are given the option of choosing either side in the two available campaigns, but this only dictates the first few missions of the game, as the war is resolved rather quickly. The bulk of the plot happens after the conclusion of that section and is identical for both campaigns. As such, the choice ultimately only decides the gender of the player’s virtual self, although the heroes of the defeated faction will still flock to take part in the actions of the united government. Unfortunately, this will disappoint many, as after they finish the Earth campaign, they might be expecting another whole story in the Mars game, rather than what amounts to a slightly different tutorial section.
As the manual indicates, humans aren’t alone in the universe. While humans are great researchers and can develop powerful proton weaponry that’s able to pierce shields despite its general inaccuracy, at least two other races are lurking in the shadows. The Kariaks are a strange type of humanoid that fashion biological tools for their every need. As such, they’re able to colonize all varieties of planets without the need for terraforming or advanced research. Not only do they make excellent traders, they’re fast learners, their units gaining experience levels much faster than those of other races. Their ships are nimble, though they lack somewhat in durability, and their ion weapons are deadly accurate, if not particularly powerful. The Darzok are an insect-like race that thrives in hostile or barren environments; they must actually research technologies in order to colonize the sort of planets that humans prefer. They enjoy a substantial production bonus as well as a population that multiplies rapidly. Darzok ships are slow and ponderous, though heavily armored, and their quantum weaponry sits right in the middle – not as powerful as proton blasters, nor as accurate as ion beams, yet creating an area of effective attack. Each of these species is available in multiplayer, and as such, this information has been made available for those who jump straight into the online game.
Missions in the campaign are highly scripted and governed by very precise victory conditions. These vary from building a specific number of colonies and researching individual technologies to mining a certain amount of ore. Not all scenarios are dictated by combat. Because of this, it’s seldom expedient to bother with accomplishing more than what’s required. As the game progresses, these missions become more elaborate, where it’s necessary to use wormholes to travel between multiple solar systems, each of which has its own stars and planets. A useful tab at the top of the screen allows players to quickly change the view from one system to another.
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