A little more than a year ago, Matrix Games and Wargaming.net gave us the very cool RTS- Massive Assault for PC. It was a solid game, with “easy to learn, difficult to master” gameplay that played a lot like futuristic chess. Instead of Rooks, Knights and Bishops, you fought with tanks, rocket launchers and ATV’s. Massive Assault was much loved by the wargaming community, so it’s no surprise that the developers picked up a major publisher (DreamCatcher) for a sequel. Sadly, this game is more of an expansion than a sequel, and doesn’t warrant a full price purchase.
For those that have played the first two games, this one is so similar; it’ll seem all too familiar. For newcomers, here’s a rundown of the gameplay. Basically, two sides are at war; one good, one bad, and you choose your side. In the first Massive Assault game, choosing a side really didn’t matter, since units were, at the core, exactly the same. In Domination, that still pretty much holds true, as the few differences that do exist aren’t of the kind to sway your to favoring one side over the other. Domination is basically a computerized version of hex-based tabletop games of old, where each unit has a limited number of hexes it can move before its turn ends. Once an entire side has moved, they launch their attacks, dealing damage that is pre-determined by the type of attacking unit. Some do more damage than others, though they move shorter distances or have shorter attack ranges, and vice versa. This balance forces you to think long and hard about your mix of units before spending your hard-earned cash each round. Along with player-owned territories, there are neutrals, which you can buy guerilla forces from, and there are secret allies. Secret allies is a simple concept, every few turns, you get to uncover one neutral territory as one of your own allies. The advantage of this system was that sometimes, you’d get lucky and uncover a secret ally alongside a territory that needed some help, or would be useful for harassing the enemy. The secret allies system was a great idea in the first game, but it’s certainly not enough to carry three games in a series.
The first game in the Massive Assault series was dinged by reviewers and gamers for lacking a storyline, and with Domination, it seems the developers were saying, “be careful what you wish for”, because in this game, the storyline is there, but you tire of it, and the horrible voice acting, quickly. Cutscenes are almost painful to watch, and the dialog is less than stellar. You’ll quickly find yourself wishing this game had no storyline.
Basically, Domination is just a slight reworking of the first game, with some new units, a weak storyline and just a few graphical tweaks. If you enjoyed the first few games, you might want to pick this one up at a discount, though consider yourself warned – the Internet gameplay is only free for the first four months, then it’s pay to play. Domination’s not a bad game, but it’s more an expansion than a sequel.
- Gameplay: 7
- Same as the first, which was good, but nothing new here
- Graphics: 7
- Good but dated
- Sound: 4
- Groan-inducing dialog
- Replay: 7.5
- Lots of single player missions, LAN play and pay-to-play Internet games boost the replay
- Overall: 6.5
- Billed as a sequel, it’s more of a expansion than anything. And not much of an expansion at that.