Occasionally a â€œcan't missâ€ title completely misses anyway, and this is one of those cases. Turn based strategy (TBS) is one of my favourite game genres, and I count Silent Storm, Galactic Civilizations, and Master of Orion 2 as some of my favourite games that I still regularly play to this day. Domination, however, is never going to gain access to the ranks of the elite, simply because it's just not that much fun to play, it has an absurd amount of bugs, and the lack of polish and professionalism is on a level unseen since Shellshock Nam '67 was aborted directly onto store shelves.
The graphics are the game's strongest feature, and even those aren't all that great. The units look decent, but there isn't enough variety. They remind me of generic placeholders from a board game, where you twist the little plastic pieces out of a grid when you first open the box. The unit animations are basic and â€œsharewareâ€ looking. The water looks nice, but the pixel shader effects are so overdone that when you pan the view out to view more of the level it often looks like you are an island in the sky, ala Netstorm, and the clouds are below you instead of being reflected off the water. Being able to rotate the camera anywhere you want is great, but not necessary in the slightest as this is a TBS where all the â€œactionâ€ takes place in your head as you ponder what move to make next.
This brings me to the gameplay, and here is where Domination fails to appease. The basic concept is fine: Turn based strategy with hexes where each player takes a turn moving military units in an attempt to capture capitals. Fine, I'm with you so far, but many of the gameplay devices employed here don't make any sense. Instead of giving each player a side to start off with, for some reason you must â€œreveal a hidden allyâ€ (which by itself makes NO sense whatsoever) which then becomes your base. Then there is the problem with neutral zones. There are so many of these god damn things in the maps that often you'll come across situations where you can't even leave your territory without entering a neutral â€œcountryâ€, which will then spawn guerillas who fight for the other team. Maybe I had a brain lapse, but I thought the storyline involved a gigantic war that spanned galaxies. SO WHY THE HELL IS EVERYONE NEUTRAL? I simply flat out don't like the gameplay devices which Domination employs, and since the game is so reliant upon the few basic methods for which it is supposed to provide entertainment, if these DON'T provide said entertainment, prepare yourself for immense pain. Some people might enjoy this type of TBS, but I loath it when it becomes this tedious. A lot of the things that Domination does, and the rules its world follows, simply don't make sense. I did the tutorial multiple times and I still don't understand some of it, and that says a lot considering this is my type of game.
Now we arrive at the presentation, which I am going to stomp down with unabashed glee after having to sit through idiotic briefing after idiotic tutorial. Let me go on record right up front: Domination has the worst voice acting of any game in history. Period. Even worse than those pornographic Japanese cartoon games where the voices were dubbed in English by fan groups from the Internet. Additionally, the writing for the missions is also just about the worst I've ever seen. Grammar and spelling mistakes are the rule, not the exception, and the storyline is so ridiculous and idiotic I think it gave me cancer. The music is forgettable, but that's still eons better than the rest of the audio.
I will not comment on the multiplayer beyond noting that there are a variety of modes including play by email, and that they wisely tossed the short-lived 6.95 monthly online fee. I could not get LAN multiplay to work at all, as it would kick me to the desktop every single time (this was a recurring problem throughout the single player experience as well). Overall the multiplay was similar to the single player experience for me, except that I got a chance to have 12-year-olds stomp all over my army while calling me a â€œnoobâ€. This is not a phenomenon unique to Domination, but at least with Warcraft III I know how to fight back.
The bottom line is quite simple: If you are a big fan of turn based strategy games, you'll want to check out the demo. You might be allured to Domination's take on the genre more than I was, but no matter if you decide to eventually buy the game or not, be prepared to turn off the sound as soon as you install it. I do not exaggerate when I say your opinion of mankind will plummet after hearing these voice actors mutilate some of the worst scripts ever to leave the desk of a Dragonball Z fanfic author.