Your planet is being invaded by humans. Neighboring hives are
battling you for domination. Stake your claim to power and prove
yourself to the council young mindlord because there can only be
one Dominant Species. This title from Red Storm Entertainment
puts a new twist on the age old theme of 'You are being invaded,
harvest the (insert medium of trade here, be it spice, gold, anima,
what have you) and build up an army to repel the invaders.' The
difference in Dominant Species is that instead of playing the
traditional human role, you are thrust into battle as a young
Mindlord, leader of an alien Hive, striving to carve out your
territory and drive back the human invasion.
Red Storm obviously put quite a bit of effort into the development
of the storyline for DS and gives you an interesting array of units to
fill your ranks. Unfortunately, I found the engine so cumbersome to
control and the AI of my units lacking even the most basic concept
of self-preservation instincts that it left my ability to appreciate the
finer aspects of DS somewhat limited.
The game is played from a user-controlled, top-down third person
perspective that you can rotate in all directions which is handy due
to the numerous valleys and hills in the game. The best description
I can think of for the gaming engine in Dominant Species is a 99%
knock-off of the Myth controls developed by Bungie Entertainment
with one noticeable change. Red Storm gives you the ability to
rotate your view up and down, one of the bigger shortcomings of
the Myth engine, but with the most unfortunate side effect of
making the actual activity in the game almost impossible to follow.
By the time you get your camera angle set up for battle, most of
your units are lying on the ground spewing green blood onto the
desert sands. Perhaps I am being a bit harsh, but Dominant
Species had the potential to be a top-notch real-time strategy
game with extensive unit types and a working 3D physics engine,
but the control interface definitely makes completing your missions
a lot harder than it should be.
Nice use of D3D graphics and very smooth texturing provide a
visually enjoyable environment for Dominant Species. The
animations are detailed and unique for each different unit type,
and structures are well-defined and artistic. The big low of the
graphics engine is the small field of vision. Being able to rotate
your view and scan the horizon is great, but if the fog of the
horizon is only a hundred feet away (a distance that can be closed
by your enemies in under 5 seconds) it really doesn't help, does it?
Red Storm claims 3Dfx support, but I couldn't see it. All in all a
nice D3D environment, too bad you can't see what's going on.
In the sound department, Dominant Species doesn't offer much to
grab your attention. Environmental sounds are minimal, if any, and
the battle grunts and noises don't really add to the overall gaming
experience. I think the key word here is lacking.
The object of this game is to harvest the anima from the fountains
and use it to build up your defenses and attack units. As I said
before, as a real-time strategy DS had a lot of potential, but the
clumsy point-of-view interface just does not work when you have
to get over to point 'A' to stop an attack on your base. If you do
manage to get a handle on the point-of-view dilemma, the game
does offer a good element of strategy as you must carefully
balance your resources between defending your base and sending
out patrols to deal with irritable scouts from neighboring tribes.
The AI in DS doesn't cut it. As if it wasn't enough for me to be
running around the screen trying to find my units, but sometimes
they'd just chase off after an enemy patrol even against 10-1 odds.
Then I had to try and find him all over again before he got
annihilated. Needless to say that didn't happen very often. The
overall RTS elements of DS are great, but trying to complete the
various mission objectives for each level hindered not only by your
opponents, but by so many
nagging problems with the interface, takes away a lot from the
I tried to get into Dominant Species, I really did. After hours of
attempting to master the view controls, I gave up and focused
more on the game, but it was somewhat frustrating. How can you
expect to kill things if you can't find them to kill? Add to this the
similarity between your units and the opponents, making it
impossible to tell them apart in battle, and you have a pretty good
candidate for the recycle bin. Re-playability is enhanced only by
the included map editor and the fact that the level difficulty does
have different paths based on how well you did on the previous
Multi is supported via the internet or local LAN. Mplayer.com is
also on the Multi options but I didn't have the heart to drag anyone
else through the myriad of interface mayhem so you'll just have to
try it for yourselves.
Overall Impression: 6/10
A real disappointment from a title than could have been so much
better. All the elements of a great 3D RTS game are here, but due
to either lack of play-testing or real poor beta feedback, the
number of nagging problems with Dominant Species make it one
to admire from a distance -- a long distance.