Aliens. Tsk. Who needs them? If the film industry, game industry, folklore and rabid rantings of naked rednecks who were plucked from their pickups in the middle of nowhere to be dumped back to earth covered in a suspiciously slimy, icky, gooey stuff are to be believed… we can’t trust ‘em.
Better if we’re alone in the universe than accompanied by anorexic, spindly figured humanoids whose only interest in us involves the insertion of various metallic probes into… well we won’t go there. Guess everyone needs a hobby.
But anyway, Conquest Frontier Wars postulates several bloodthirsty, warring alien clans, one insectoid by nature, one ethereal, and the other descended from you and me (albeit not specifically). It’s the particularly genocidal insect characters who are causing all the trouble though, with the other two forming an uneasy alliance in the single player campaign.
The game is actually a space based real-time strategy (RTS) with some graphical polish and a “flat” 3D engine, isometric style. Visually, it’s a double edged sword here. On the whole nothing really leaps out at you, but the atmosphere is enhanced by some smart touches like authentically glowing nebulae (electromagnetic winds off the starboard bow, cap’n) and flames coming off damaged ships (ignoring the realism aspect for a moment).
Conquest boasts strong tactical elements which will have true space strategists reaching for the Zero-G bib; it’s deep stuff. All that flashy looking space phenomena has a tactical emphasis – terrain, in effect – and concerns such as supply lines have to be taken into account. You can’t just build a load of destroyers and whisk them off to your enemy’s base without any thought.
However, the game is easy enough to play thanks to a well thought-out interface – it’s simple to group units and switch between them and there are plenty of options for commands, with offensive, defensive and escort modes. You can even assign computer AI driven admirals to fleets, and they actually do a fairly good job of commanding should you be attacked and not be on that part of the map to supervise.
Conquest is, quite simply, very well put together, and although another RTS might make you want to yawn, trust us – this is a good ‘un. The eight player online mode sports plenty of options too, and comes with a match-making feature to help you locate willing victims…