Game Over Online ~ Dominion

GameOver Game Reviews - Dominion (c) Eidos, Reviewed by - Da Hitman / DToxR /

Game & Publisher Dominion (c) Eidos
System Requirements Pentium Based System, 32mb RAM, 4x CD-ROM
Overall Rating 68%
Date Published Sunday, June 14th, 1998 at 04:48 PM

Divider Left By: Da Hitman Divider Right

Well here it is. This anticipated game from Eidos Interactive is yet another attempt at a real time strategy game, a term that is used so many times these days. The game boasts 4 different resolution sets, unlike most other RTS games, the standard multiplayer features with up to 8 people, 4 distinct races and similar to Starcraft an abundance of missions to play through. Add to that the fact that the game flies at 32 fps on the highest resolution and you have a title that is very difficult to beat. I have great expectations for this title, lets see if it does the job.

The graphics in this title are very unique, something that is very difficult to do since games try to be like each other. Each race has a plethora of units and vehicles, although not as much as Total Annihilation, and each unit/vehicle moves in a fluid motion even at the highest resolution. The in-game animations are very smooth especially during fighting sequences, which seems to be a problem with a few games. The in-game interface, however, I have to admit is very intimidating. This was the man problem I believe people had and it turned them off from the rest of the game. The interface is very intricate with its detail and animation that the player is lost at the fact that they do not know what to create first or why a button is flashing. Overall the game graphics are very good for a RTS game, as you would expect, but since the user gets lost in the in-game interface and thereby the controls of their units, the graphic mark slips a little bit. The 4 resolutions do help a bit, however, to prevent a player from seeing more of the screen than his opponent, they only serve to enhance the objects rather than allowing the person to see more ground, which I believe is a good idea.

Although I did not have a chance to experience the musical score in this title I believe it adds quite a bit to the game. The in-game sound experience is very good, however, the player will soon get tired of hearing sounds of gunshots and such. The sounds in the game are very unique and each unit, like Starcraft and other game, says something different when they are made to do a certain operation. Moreover, similarly to Starcraft the game's sound is in stereo, which is very unusual for a RTS game. For example, when you are not looking at your base and a task is completed the sound is soft and can be heard from the distance it originated from. What was interesting to see, or rather hear, was the fact that Eidos did a great job of making the ambient sounds for each of the 4 races distinct. That means that the sounds of the mech walking about, for example, is totally different from the sounds of the humans walking around. Marks in this section were deducted since there was a lot of times where you would hear nothing but air, which is the normal case when there is little or none action occurring.

I am so used to playing the Warcraft and Starcraft series that I almost never like to play any other RTS games not because they are not good but because each of them try to set a different standard of game play. They try to make the plot and concepts so different from one another that the overall fun is lost and the player is left wondering how to do a simple thing like gather resources. Dominion, its sad to say, is no different. The in-game interface problem, as mentioned above, does not serve the purpose of allowing the user quick game commands and options. When you click on a button, for instance, an animation occurs and it flips over. What is the point of this? The interface is filled with so many groves, buttons and bows that when the user clicks the wrong option, for instance, he/she does not know how to return to the correct option. Controlling units is also difficult since they are pretty small and the right mouse button does not serve the purpose of moving the unit, as it does in most other games. Because of this action sequences are also left with a sense of non-excitement since the units move abnormally.

I have very mixed opinions about this game, as do most people, since they find it very difficult to control. On one hand the game is not very fun because it is difficult to play, control wise. However, on the other hand, the game boasts so many units, vehicles, terrain types and missions that the player cannot help but spend some time and experience each race and mission. I have to admit that watching and controlling the different units and vehicles is very fun, however, the game manages to be depressing at times. Overall a very mixed reaction by most people and I believe that this was the case for me as well.

The multiplayer component saves the RTS game once again. Teaming up with a friend to battle the computer or going head to head in, once again another game that uses the word DEATHMATCH, proves to be an exciting experience. However, I must that both me and my friend did not know what we were doing as we just created, in Warcraft terms, peons and sent them over to do the fighting. Multiplayer is very smooth, surprisingly enough with the numerous unit types, and only lagged a few seconds when the main attack was about to begin. Marks are given for the fact that even on the highest resolution the game did not lag due to a conflict of system resources.

Excellent concept, however, the game does not deliver game play wise. Pick it up if you are type of person who likes a variety of units/vehicles and terrain types. A pretty good storyline to get into, by the way.


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Divider Left By: DToxR Divider Right

Well I was really looking forward to playing Dominion. Being the first game out of John Romero's ID offshoot company Ion Storm, I knew this would really set the tone for the company. If you are at all familiar with the Doom/Quake community then you will know that Romero is known for two things:

1. His ego - he talks smack like there is no tomorrow.
2. He makes great games. People don't mind your big mouth when you can back it up.

The game is also published by Eidos, who have a proven track record for good games. Dominion was bred from the ground up for success. How could I go wrong?

On to the details...

The story is the same old boring rehashed sci-fi thing.


Some beacon in space starts sending a message out...


Why is everyone always so caught up in ruling the universe? I'm happy if I make it out of bed and get myself dressed in the morning.

Anyways, four different races respond to the beacon (smell the bacon?) and rush to the planet. The actual battle that takes place on the planet is what makes up the action.


The game itself is your standard top-down RTS view a la C&C. You control build orders using a bar along the bottom of the screen. By saving up "men" and "resources" you gain the ability to create units and vehicles (think crystal and gas / metal and power / wood and gold... gee how original). One interesting feature is that all buildings must not only be within a certain range of your other buildings, but they also seem to require line of sight to your main HQ. You have to plan out your base layout in advance.

Eidos' main selling points for this game are the AI, the many available resolutions, and the thousands of animations for the units. Let me tell you, there is a reason they push the AI. Its to divert your attention from the graphics. Let me sum it up in three words:


If you have ever used the Photoshop plugin "Clown Barf" you will know EXACTLY what I'm talking about. There is no D3D/3DFX support, this is straight DirectX stuff here. No matter what resolution you run it in, it's still hard on the eyes. There is no shadows under the units, so they seem to "float along" over the landscape. The units also seem to automatically line up in these little cheesy formations (you think it would be cool, but its not). And what happened to all those character animations??? I sure didn't notice anything as my little guys "floated" along the landscape like some bad cartoon. It doesn't even begin to compare to Age of Empires unit animations.

Sound is about as generic as it gets. It certainly didn't make my ears bleed but you wont hear me calling for a rewind anytime soon. Your little guys have little blaster noises, explosions etc. Well, they sound like explosions. There are no outstanding death screams or anything to be found. There was no music whatsoever, I can only assume this got axed in the rip.

The interface overall seemed to be really poorly thought out. For example, many units have special commands which can be accessed by right clicking on the unit icon which reveals your basic win95 style context menu. Now I don't know about you, but when I have a massive army bearing down on me, rockets blazing, men screaming, people dying, the LAST thing I need to do is scroll through a couple of context menus. Also, the "command console" along the bottom of the screen seemed to require more work than most other RTS games; buildings, infantry, vehicles and infrastructure are all in separate areas and you have to toggle back and forth between them constantly to find what you're looking for. Its not horrible, but its definitely not as intuitive as Starcraft/AoE/C&C. One feature I thought was great was "show range" which forms a dotted circle on the screen so you can see how far your unit can see. No more stumbling into turret range because you thought your guy could see further.

Multiplayer is basic Direct play stuff. IPX, TCP/IP, modem and Cable connections all work. The game options themselves are very limited though. You can set starting resources and allying but not much else. Also, Dominion is very in-specific about the end of a multiplayer game... in a few of my test games, when my opponent dropped it would just say "Mission Accomplished". I had no idea that they dropped and I was sitting there trying to figure out exactly how I had "accomplished" anything at all. Once you do get going, it's a moderately fun game (if you can get over the gaudy graphics) and you will soon find yourself immersed with only genocide on your mind.

The AI that is supposed to be so good ends up being a moot point. Who cares how smart the computer is at shuffling ugly pixelated icons around a map. You would have to be a real sadist to play this game through to the end. Maybe they should have spent more time of the game fundamentals instead of working on "s00per AI".

I have to wonder how this game ever made it to the shelves. I think John Romero's name must still carry a lot of weight in the game industry because there is no way this should have ever seen the light of day. It is substandard in every single way to Starcraft, Age of Empires, Total Annihilation, Warcraft2, Red Alert, etc. Even the godfather C&C is better. It really leaves you wondering about some of the other Ion Storm games in development.

You know there are a lot of rumors going around recently that ID (and ID offshoots) have lost touch with the gamers. Looking at Dominion you would certainly think so. When I was looking through the Eidos www site material for Dominion, I came across one of those "brag" pages with glowing quotes from various previewers. It really makes me sick to see sites such as Avault, Gamespot, Gamesmania etc. with their heads shoved so far up the publishers ass that they won't call a spade a spade.

A blind deaf-mute would smell this piece of crap a mile away.

The Good: A few good ideas - force fields, unit range indicators etc.

The Bad: Graphics make me want to run away screaming, gameplay is sub-standard, interface is painful to use.


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