Conquest: Frontier Wars
Description official description
This RTS games puts you as the commander in the Frontier Wars. You can play either as the Terran forces, the insectoid Mantis or the energy-based Celareons. Unlike most RTS games, this one requires you to manage your supply lines and control over multiple maps, up to 16 different star systems. In addition, there are intelligent fleet admirals... AIs which can be a benefit during the multiplayer games.
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Average score: 78% (based on 26 ratings)
Average score: 3.6 out of 5 (based on 12 ratings with 1 reviews)
The opening sequence is pretty well done, all things considered. In open defiance of Roberts Brothers tradition, it features 3D-rendered actors on a bridge resembling the Concordia from the Wing Commander movie. Basically, it details the attack of the TNS Andromeda by an unknown aggressor as it explores an alien wormhole. The main screen leads to the obligatory single-player, multi- and skirmish options. The first Terran mission (you can only play as the Terrans in the campaign, though it includes training missions for the other two races) pits your fledgling squadron of three ships against an unknown alien race. It's basically a tutorial - Captain Blackwell walks you through everything from combat to base construction. Planets play a rather large role in this, in that you'll build bases in orbital slots around planets. You'll also have to deal with your ship limit by building sensor towers, a nod to Age of Empires (as is the upgrades system). A rather unheralded innovation is that of jump points - you can actually command fleets across several systems and maps. Combat and gameplay more or less resembles Armada ) in that all combat is 3D on a 2D plane. The interface is similar too, right-click fare simple as any half-decent RTS. Another staple is resource management - what RTS would be complete without it? The obligatory minerals here are found in asteroids and nebula gas, a la Homeworld, which you extract with harvesters (also doubling as salvage corvettes). Unlike STArmada, they aren't used as barriers, but they do considerably slow your fleet. Another difference here is that you'll have to deal with all sorts of specilized ships, like marine transports that capture vessels and resupply ships that, well, you get the point. There's also annoying little fighter-craft that buzz around your capships like angry wasps . You don't control the fighters directly, as the smallest buildable combat ships are corvettes, but the squadrons launched from carriers do provide much-needed backup). The graphics are somewhat dated, and the interface takes up a full third of the screen (though you can minimize it), but it doesn't really hamper gameplay. Atmosphere is generally excellent throughout, with good voice acting, especially for the aliens, though some cheesy dialogue somewhat breaks the feeling. There's a great deal of wit and charm splattered throughout, probably due in large part to the Simcity-style tongue-in-cheek radio ad that runs before every mission briefing (a Mantis radio announcer proclaiming "Don't drink to your enemies, DRINK your enemies!" or a DJ rambling off a full paragraph of terse legal technicalities in roughly eight seconds flat). There are little touches that remind you this is developed by the Wing Commander folks (besides the intro title settling once for all that this is a "Roberts Brothers Production") - there's a little "Pegasus NavCom" cameo on the loading screen, which Wing Commander fans such as myself'll prolly find particularly enjoyable.
The game's been in development quite a while, so the graphics aren't exactly cutting-edge, though it does have a certain charm, with a grainy, frontier-like quality - or you could just interpret it as dull rendering. The ammunition system does mean you'll have to deal with all the nessesary supply routes and stuff - another of Conquest's innovations is that you'll have to deal with supply lines and stocking ships with ammo. It's one of the first games to deal with this (the first, I believe, to be Earth 2150), and it's a bit annoying how the tutorial rather shys away from this topic. The vaunted "Fleet Admiral" system isn't /that/ impressive, basically boosting the stats of any group they're assigned to, but they're pretty useful when you need that little push. The "holoscreen" (map) has a zoom feature, but rather than the STArmada-style orbit, it's straight zoom-in, map-style. The game feels more like Total Annihilation in space than anything else - which isn't a bad thing, incidently, and the graphics are beginning to grow on me. You can rotate the map, but only NSEW - nothing like STArmada's rotate-at-will free-form camera, and the background looks a bit blurry. Asteroids and debris seem to use 2D rendered sprites, but unless you lust after eye candy, it's really no biggie. No matter what you heard, the music probably won't send you screaming off a cliff - it's actually some decent string orchestra stuff, if a bit repetetive. The insectoid Mantis are derivative of every alien since [i]Starship Troopers[/i], and we've /seen/ the Vorlon-isqe Celareons before, but I still found them charming, in their own bizarre way.
The Bottom Line
Should you buy Conquest? I'd recommend you try the demo first and read a few reviews not quite as lousy as this one. That's not nearly all of it, but I suppose it'll have to do until I get deeper into the game. For a diehard Wingnut (WC fan), the fact it was developed by ex-Origin members at Chris Robert's former company is all the inspiration I need :) It's not exactly the most original thing out there, but it's a damn fine game in its own right.
Windows · by Mr Roboto (8) · 2001
Conquest was originally a Digital Anvil product. After Microsoft took over Digital Anvil, the game was removed from the company schedule, even though it was close to completion. The Conquest team then, with Chris Robert's blessing, quit Digital Anvil and formed Fever Pitch Studios to finish it.
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Game added by Arvin Chandra.
Game added September 21, 2001. Last modified August 31, 2023.