|System: Wii, PS2||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: 4JStudio||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Bethesda Softworks||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 20, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Nathan Meunier
Even the most diehard Trekkie isn't going to automatically drink poison Kool-Aid just because it's served in a Star Trek themed Dixie cup. Along similar lines, haphazardly slapping some Next Generation era visuals and a few novelty sound effects on a bare-bones game engine isn't going to be very palatable to the masses of Star Trek fans that've been anxious to get their Trek on. There is a certain level of guilty pleasure to be found in Conquest. Unfortunately, the blasphemous disregard for the source material and a lack of features makes it a poor choice for fans of the series.
One of the biggest deficiencies becomes evident immediately from the onset of the game. The opening screen provides Conquest's paper thin setup; it's more than likely to irk the über faithful. A mere paragraph is practically the only smidgeon of story in the entire game. To make matters worse it's complete garbage. The scenario opens amidst a time of war with the six major races - Federation, Klingon, Romulan, Cardassian, Dominion, and Breen - all suddenly gunning to wipe one another off the face of the galaxy. Diplomacy and borderland agreements have been thrown out in favor of a free-for-all quest for supreme domination of all territories. The whole concept just doesn't jive with the elaborate nature of Star Trek lore, particularly in the case of the Federation who seem to have completely abandoned their prime directive. The offense might have been more forgivable had the developers integrated an actual plot into the main portion of the game.
An extremely inadequate story can be crippling in a Star Trek title, but the gameplay in Conquest does manage to ease some of the pain to a certain point. Campaign mode pits any of the six races against one another in a strategic turn-based battle which revolves around gathering resources, constructing outposts and fleets of warships, and methodically wrenching control of the galaxy away from foes system-by-system. Players can select their home world race, the number and type of opponents, and tweak other gameplay details before launching into a campaign. From there, you'll be dumped in your small corner of the drab, 2D galactic plane and left to your own devices.
Every race can have up to three admirals and their accompanying starship fleets on the board at any given time. Admirals can gain experience through combat, earn promotions, and also provide their fleet with a bonus either to attack, defense, or movement. New ships can be constructed at any of your star bases, and fallen admirals can be re-recruited at your home world base. You'll essentially have three options in terms of what units you can build: the weak-but-speedy scout ship, a medium-strength cruiser, and the slow and destructive dreadnaught. Initially, stocking your fleet with a mixture of cheaper and medium class ships allows you to venture forth in the galaxy quickly and snag systems in order to gather resources more quickly. Gaining control of a system allows you to construct mines to accrue resources, star bases to purchase units, science facilities to research super weapons (the Genesis Device is particularly cool), and defense turrets to protect your investments.
On the galaxy field, the different factions will take turns moving their admirals, but things heat up when you encounter an enemy fleet or a band of roaming space brigands (the Ferengi and the Borg make brief guest appearances in the form of random encounters in unoccupied systems). Combat in Conquest offers players a few interesting options. If you just want to get the battle over with quickly, you can elect to have it instantly resolved or select Sim mode to watch the 2D sprites blast away at each other until one side is decimated. A third option, Arcade mode, launches a real-time battle against the enemy. In this mode players are given direct control over one of their ships while the computer A.I. controls the rest of their fleet and the enemy. You'll be manually maneuvering your vessel to dodge enemy fire or positioning your strongest shields to take the brunt of the blasts, while sending volleys of phaser beams and torpedoes their way. This is the best way to experience battle in Conquest, but it's also easy to exploit this mode to ensure victory much of the time.