Frontier Wars: Conquest offers an interesting twist on space real-time strategy. It’s a little old, but I feel that it still offers one of the most extensive space-based strategy experiences around. There are three races to use in skirmish mode, but you will just use the Terran side for the campaign.
Features (4 out of 5)
The gameplay itself features standard space strategy. You build battleships, frigates, fighters, and corvettes to form fleets and attack the enemy. You will also colonize and build facilities on various planets to provide you with the manpower, minerals, and gas to fight the war. All of the units usually have a special attack that requires them to use up some supplies. There are also admiralty units that can form official fleets with stronger powers. This is standard equipment for the genre.
The coolest aspect is the unique supply system though. You have to have nearby bases or supply ships in this game. Maintaining your supply lines is just as vital as the general fighting. Each ship has a limited amount of supplies available. Firing its weapons and using abilities use up these supplies. If it runs out, then it’s effectively dead in the water. This adds a surprising bit of strategy and realism to the game. You have to have supply ships around to rearm your fleets during sustained combat, and you are able to cripple enemy fleets by interrupting their supply lines.
There was also a surprising bit of balance and realism in the gameplay. Battleships were able to destroy just about everything, until a carrier launches a bomber wing that cripples the ship. Therefore, you send out corvettes to provide anti-air cover. These corvettes can’t withstand fire from stronger frigates though, so you will need midrange support. You will need to have a balanced strategy in place with a lot of tactical support if you want to win. That’s a lot better than most space-based strategy games, where it amounts to little more than ships of varying strength firing lasers at each other.
That said, it gets a little boring. Battles get repetitive and you often go for long periods without a lot of fighting. If you just want to see ships fight each other, then you’ll be a little disappointed.
Graphics (3 out of 5)
The graphics are surprisingly good for a game from 2001. The ships look really good and the explosions are pretty cool. The effects and planets are also good enough for a strategy game. It’s not a graphical masterpiece, but it’s easy on the system.
System Requirements (4 out of 5)
The system requirements are very low and I doubt anyone will have a problem with them. It played just fine on my older machine and it only needs 64 MB of RAM and an 8 MB video card. I also managed to run it on a laptop that isn’t much more than word processor, so I’d be fairly surprised if you don’t have the power to run it.
Overall (4 out of 5)
This game is definitely worth the price of a bargain game. It offers a unique twist on combat and gives a cool tactical aspect to the battles. It might be a little boring, but strategy buffs shouldn’t have a problem with it. I was actually quite amazed at the level of gameplay present in such an old title.