Conquest: Frontier Wars
Mankind is finally beginning to realize its destiny. With the theory of wormholes (gateways that allow travel across vast interstellar distances almost instantaneously) finally being proven true, the human race lays poised to begin the greatest era of discovery in its short existence. However, this discovery contains hidden dangers, as the first explorers come in contact with the Mantis, an aggressive insectoid race currently embroiled in a galactic civil war. Add to this mix the mysterious energy beings known as the Celareons, and you have a powder keg ready to explode.
Called into service soon after the disappearance of important fleet ships, your mission is to expand Terran influence on the other side of the wormhole. Success will bring advancement and prestige, failure brings... well, let’s just say the cold vacuum of space is a fitting graveyard for the less than successful. Do you have what it takes to be the conqueror? Find out, in Conquest: Frontier Wars!
Conquest: Frontier Wars is a space-based real-time strategy from Ubi Soft Entertainment and Fever Pitch Studios. Well-designed, graphically excellent, and superbly balanced races make this a game for any aficionado of the Real-Time Strategy (RTS) genre. Simply put: If you liked Starcraft, you’ll love Conquest.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
Conquest: FW has its roots solidly in the typical two-dimensional top-down display, but goes in different directions. For example, the play fields are round, and wormhole mapping doesn’t always follow a simple geometric pattern. This makes for a more robust playing experience, as wormholes quickly become choke points to controlling your sector of the galaxy. And controlling space is really what this game is all about.
If you’re familiar with most standard RTS games, you understand the basic idea of this game already: gather resources, build fleets, kick butt. While Conquest is very much the same in this respect, there are other features only found in this game add extra levels of sophistication. For example, while mining ore, gas, and crew becomes increasingly more automated in Conquest, you can also develop salvage ships to collect space debris, gas, and even detritus from battles. Rather than utilizing busy units to repair or refit ships, bases have a large radius wherein ships and supply units are replenished or repaired while inside. Tech trees are simplified, yet still make players gauge their resources.
The largest factor in this game is the concept of supplying ships with weaponry. Simply building a fleet and sending it off isn’t enough to win automatically, as all ship types will eventually run out of ammo and essentially become floating targets. Supply ships can be built to combat this, as well as flying flotillas back to a supply center or command headquarters zone of control. This adds an extra degree of difficulty to the game.
The races, while similar in many ways to the ones in Starcraft, are actually better balanced and any of the races can be used effectively, depending on your preference and style of play. Terrans are easy to use and can build powerful ships and defense points. Mantis have extremely good fighter platforms and are great at manipulating their resources. Celareons have excellent ships and have the ability to manufacture temporary wormholes, among other things. This barely scrapes the surface of the three races, as they are all dangerous in skilled player’s hands.
Recently, Fever Pitch released a 21 MB (eek!) patch file to add new features and fix some bugs. While I didn’t notice any problems before installing the patch (other than multiplayer issues between conflicting versions of the software), it would probably be a good idea to invest a bit of time downloading it.
A quick shout goes out to AG6_Prophet, Rizzmond, sirex1, xcell, and all the others who made my multiplayer experience an even better one.
Multiplayer games are supported by Conquest: FW and are, in my mind, the highlight of this game. Service on the Internet is provided by Ubi Soft’s Game Service 4, which bundles with the game. This product looks to be very good and I had only a couple of small problems getting it up and running. Currently, the only downfall this service has is that very few people seem to be using it, at least during the times when I have logged in. Games are easy to set up and configure and while multiplayer gaming seems to be able to support connections as slow as 56k, I don’t recommend trying it at that speed.
One of the more exciting things I found while playing human opponents is the ability to build NPC units to help my fleets. There are up to six per team and they are locked to the first six function keys on your keyboard. These NPC units (the Terran units are Admirals, Mantis are Warlords, and so on) not only control selected units at your command, but can also use a ship's special weapons at the push of one button, and can disband and reform fleets at will. Ever hate sending a fleet in to destroy an enemy, knowing you will have to go ship by ship to get a special weapon working? Well, now you Terrans can let your Admiral do it for you! Each special unit allows for a myriad of control options without having to cumbersomely target individual units with individual ships. Plus, the healthy fighting bonuses they apply aren’t too shabby either.
I quickly found that my earlier strategies with other RTS type games didn’t always work on Conquest: FW. After getting my ass handed to me several times, I am now confident enough with my skills that I can beat a rank amateur. At least, two out of three…
Recently, it has been brought to my attention that this game has been in development for around four years. If this is true, the game truly reflects it, as there is great attention to detail. Fighters streak by on ion trails, ships pound the vacuum of space with energy and projectile weapons, ships take dramatic damage and explode in a flash of radioactive particles. Watching a Dreadnought cycle up its Aegis Shield and turn itself broadside for a barrage is an awesome spectacle, as is watching the action of bases and ships being constructed piece by piece before your eyes. While there are some grainy parts to the map at close magnification, and the graphics aren’t cutting edge, Max Payne-esque stuff, they do look remarkably polished and well-skinned, and are in no way inferior to any other game in its genre.
Cut-scenes are also very well done and extremely prevalent during single player mode.
Excellent martial themes, great voice acting, and well-rendered battle noises make this a winner in the audio category as well. I especially like the radio broadcasts between scenarios, as well as the swoosh of wormhole travel. Oddly enough, though somewhat repetitive over the long haul, the audio tracks do not become grating or overly annoying.
Pentium II 350 MHz or higher processor, Windows 95/98/2000/ME with DirectX 7.0a or later API, 64 MB RAM, 350 MB of free hard disk space (additional 100mb of hard disk space for swap file), 8 MB DirectX 7.0 compatible video card, 4X CD-ROM Drive, DirectX 7.0 compatible sound card and a mouse. 28.8 Kbps modem (or higher recommended) for Internet or head-to-head play.
The game ships with a 90+ page booklet illustrating most aspects of this game. It also comes with a very handy color spreadsheet with quick hints and a tech tree. Greatly appreciated, let me assure you.
Simply put, this has been one of the harder reviews I’ve had to put together merely because it means I’ll have to stop playing to write it! Conquest: Frontier Wars is the best single real-time strategy to come out this year. Excellent gameplay, graphics, and high replay value give this game a solid 98. Though this game doesn’t seem to be getting the press that many other first run games are receiving, it certainly deserves to be on the shelf of every serious strategist’s library. Truly, if you only buy one RTS this year, be sure to make it Conquest!
Download Conquest: Frontier Wars
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP