Low system requirements
Bot deaths lag may slow game
Few players on online server
"This is a test of the BigDog Emergency Broadcast System. The broadcasters of your area in voluntary cooperation with the FCC and other authorities have developed this system to keep you informed in the event of an emergency. For the next sixty (or thirty) seconds, this station will conduct a test of the BigDog Emergency Broadcast System. This is only a test. Once again, this is only a test."
What does the message above have to say about this review? Nothing much except for a hint that this game sets in the midst of a future (yet fictional) Cold War. In the future (yet fictional) Cold War, militant forces deploy robot units to fight for control over the North American continent. The reason why there are deployments for such robot units is because the two opposing factions want to take advantage in crossing over radioactive areas that are deemed uninhabitable for life. However, radiation does not mean that the factions will not deploy people to hazardous areas. Since this war started, tremendous investment has focused on the development of anti-radiation suits for infantry.
The problem with this story is that the two opposing factions might fight over land that might be contaminated with radioactive material. I guess any strategic location is a good enough incentive for troop deployment.
This game revolves around an 'us versus them' mentality (team-oriented gameplay) due to its future (yet fictional) Cold War storyline, but free-for-all mode is still possible. I hadn't looked at every nook and cranny of this game so you might find something outside of this game review. This game provides two factions. The two factions go by the name of the Federated States (NATO) and the Eastern Confederation (Soviet Union). The robot units are called Mechanized Assault Vehicles (a.k.a. MAVs). Each type of MAVs come with its own set of equipment and weaponry. The weaponry assorts in chainguns, rockets, homing missiles, land mines, lasers, flamethrower, and airstikes (small radius). Equipment is specialized by various forms of hoverjets, recharable weapons, or misc. You can also decide the reciprocal value between speed and armor for your deployed MAV. If you decide to be the infantry man, winning a match will be much harder, but it is more gratifying. Some hints for the infantry man: you get protection from being targeted by homing missiles (with the possible exception of riding a spawned hoverbike), and I suggest to use bullet-type weapons.
The maps have a lot of variety in terrain navigation, infrastructure, and some of them have (hostile/neutral/friendly) turrets! Maps can take place in the snow, on the mountains, near a (deserted) city, on the shoreline, etc. The bad news with the maps is that there is a long wait for first-time cache loading, but afterwards, that map should load much faster. I wish I know how the cache works so I do not have to wait on first time loading for each DHLI installation.
The weaponry has the usual set of spamming bullets, high speed lasers, dumb rockets, explosions, and homing missiles. If you have trouble getting a hit on a target, the zoom toggle provides better accuracy for bullet-type/laser-type weapons. If you happened to deplete your weapon(s) or armor, there are faction-based workshops that repair armor and resupply ammunition. For defense against incoming projectiles, you can take cover behind obstacles, but if you are in an open area, you can deploy flares as a counter-measure to (homing) rockets/missiles, provided that you strafe at the right places. This game is about fighting in robots, where the robots are clunky and clumsy in dodging projectiles. Limited robot movement puts more emphasis on using cover and flares than dodging projectiles.
If you get lost and your scanner is not much help to you, press the 'M' button for the map overview. The map overview helps out with long-range scanning for objectives, terrain, allies, and enemies thru the (exclusive) hold of the left or right mouse button.
While this game has robots, it behaves more like a simplistic FPS of the past. You can't shoot parts off of robots like in the Battletech or Battlestar Galactica franchise. If there is anything I can critize about this game, it would be its lag on bot spawn, bot death, and (heavy) projectile spamming. Each bot death is like a wave of radioactive lagging interference. I do not know if bot death lags are intentional in game design. I know that games in the full three-dimensional perspective are more complex, but if there is something that interferes with the gameplay, that game suffers from those flaws.
Another thing I find missing with this game is the lack of space for custom content (robot models, map creation, and possibly scenarios).
This game is really meant for multiplayer gameplay (because of A.I. being not as advanced as the bots in Unreal Tournament), and the main online game server is still open for gameplay (free registeration is required) and in-game chat. I presume that the readers of this review are already familiar with the adrendaline rush and gaming experience of online FPS, so I say that DHLI is a FPS with robots. If there is anything I have to say about the multiplayer feature, there are virtually no players online nowadays for some reason. I think there is a need to have an online location where DHLI can stand a chance to gain online players.
The graphics in this game should be tolerable for most people. The preferences allow adjustment of viewing distance as well as texture details (sharp look versus blured out look).
The appearence in this game does a good job in making the game setting look like what you expect from a game with robot units. In the first person perspective, you can see the ground give way to the weight of your MAV as you walk around the map. Weather conditions like rain (not all the weather conditions are in the game) is included, but I think that gameplay could have been enchanced if there is a day and night cycle transition in the game. If you want the highest graphics possible, do not expect this game to provide you with that gaming experience. This game is not about the graphics; in fact, the graphics seem to interfere with the gameplay. I advise players to put the minimum graphic setting for higher performance and less lag on the gameplay (including 16 bit).
MUSIC AND SOUND EFFECTS
I can't say much for the sound effects because I am quite content on how it plays out. Everything sounds like in working order; when I fire on the vulcan cannon, you can see the gun warming up, the bullets flying, and the gun cooling down. There seems to be a lot of detail in placing the sound for every aspect of the game, even the walking movement plays stomping sounds.
The music plays the .ogg audio format, but you can put other files (with their own name) there as long they are in the .ogg audio file format. An audio playlist is also inluded in the game, but it does not automatically play the .ogg audio files. The music genre of the default music ranges from battlefield-like orchestra, rock, and industrial techno. Any addition to the Battlecruiser Millennium music would be also appropriate for this game (downloading Battlecruiser Millennium will take some time).
Dark Horizons Lore: Invasion is a game that I will consider saving in my hard drive. While this game is nothing revolutionary in FPS/TPS development, it has that certain appeal where a person with a pretty low PC system can play a robot FPS/TPS game with not much to worry about buying or installing hardware. There are probably other robot FPS/TPS that could fare better than DHLI, but I do not think they can contend with the low operating system requirement of this game. For that reason, this game might be better its competitors.
The storyline was well written for this game. Modern military conflict, robot destruction, and so on basically explain what this game is all about. Despite the aspiration of the author(s), the gameplay has some flaws. The game lag itself remains prevalent as a common hinderance to many three-dimensional games in development. Artifical intelligence of bots could also be more aggressive due to the lack of players on the online server.
In my gaming experience, I usually pick the Locust class from the Eastern Conferation faction for toting bullets upon enemies, while flying in mid-air. I could have gone for the lasers and flamethrowers, but I would have digressed from the review. You might ask why would I go to any lengths to support this game. It's true that this game is just another shooter game, but there is potential for what this game can do. With the classes of robots, players are not just engaged in the practice of eye-hand coordination. They are engaged to think tactically with a limitation of weapons, specialization of equipment, and the given values between speed and armor. When you play this game, you do not get that fast run and shoot pace, so you always get that chance of being under fire due to the mobility of your MAV. The challenge factor in the game is set back by the lack of advanced A.I. programming, but the multiplayer feature compensate for the bots. I really can't think of all the potential this game can offer, but I can say is that if you want to play a simple FPS/TPS with a robot theme to it, Dark Horizons Lore: Invasion is certainly one of those games.
There is a newer release called skunks5-22-11.zip (developed by the Skunks Mod team), but the operating system requirements will significantly increase from its original requirement. Slingshot (Windows development of the skunks mod team) said that Pentium 4/Celleron CPU, 2.4 GHz, and 1 Gig of RAM, might be the processing requirement to have the 5-22-11 release to run at optimal performance.
If you want to play the new version, it can be downloaded directly from here - http://www.smellyseabass.com/skunks5-22-11.zip .
The main change for the 5-22-11 release is a MAV class along with changed maps (more turrets and something like that). There is at least one new map, but I had not gone over making the grayscaling process errorless for the 5-22-11 release.
Review by: Ribby
Violent, politcally charged content.
Safe for ages: 15+
Windows 98/SE/ME/2000/XP Pentium III
128 MB RAM
DirectX compatible Soundcard
300MB harddrive space
56.6 modem internet access