|Star Trek: ConQuest
Online: A version of chess for the next generation, or a blatant attempt to capitalize on
the ever-popular Collectible Card Game genre? Im
willing to compromise and say that it is neither and both at the same time. It attempts to capture the fun and excitement of
buying, collecting and trading collectible cards on an online forum, but at the same time
it's obvious that somebody is really trying hard to get a little extra milk out of the
Star Trek and CCG cash cows. Moo.
ST: ConQuest Online is an on-line turn-based strategy game that uses the Collectible Bits Technology from Genetic Anomalies. Now, Im not saying that a 4-hour lecture on marketing strategy would be more fun, but there were several things about the game that really disappointed me. The basic idea of the game is that you have a collection of pieces that are maintained on the ST: CO server under your account name. You customize your Control Group (the set of pieces that you use to play) and pit your Control Group against that of another player. A Control Group consists of a Q, plus 40 ships, items or people. If you buy the boxed game in a store, you get to register one character and receive 7 booster packs to start out your collection. You also get an Ambassador Spock unique piece that is only available when purchasing the boxed game (so pretty much everybody and their dog has one.)
The game is split into basic and advanced games. The basic game has 3 phases (Deploy, Attack and Move) and uses 2 maps with 3 or 5 planets. The advanced game adds an Auction Phase, a Special Phase and a few other goodies. This is the first thing that really got to me about the game. A lot of the pieces have a description of abilities that the piece can perform. The thing is, these abilities can ONLY be performed in the advanced game. Some pieces are completely useless in the basic game! For example, the Emergency Transport Armband allows you to spend one control point to beam a person to a friendly ship, but only in the advanced game. The advanced game also adds a location called The Continuum. Players can place pieces from play into the Continuum during the move phase of their turn. The Continuum is supposed to be the other-dimensional home world of the Q species, but in the game the only pieces that cannot move to the Continuum are the Q pieces; how much sense does that make?
The graphics in the game were fun to look at, as far as the pieces go. Each piece has a picture associated with it, which gives you an easy reference when playing the game. It would have been neat to have some sort of 3D graphics for at least some of the pieces. I wouldve been happy to see a rotating ship piece, or a phaser that opens up, but thats forgivable--the pieces needed to be small enough to download, I can understand that. The game play graphics were pretty poor. The attacks were symbolized by different colored lines from one ship to another (I think they used 3 colors). This was an area where the poor graphics actually hindered game play. I had a hard time figuring out which lines were pointing to which ships. If you had more than 3 attacks in one battle, then the line color skipped back to the first color, furthering the confusion.
The sounds for the game could have been way better. Most of the events in the game either played an explosion or one of six random sound bytes from Q, who doesnt have the most pleasant of voices to begin with. There was no background music or sound FX to speak of so the game usually drags along pretty quietly. I would think that they would have hundreds of sounds to choose from in the Star Trek universe.
I have to admit
that I did have a little fun with the game once I got used to the poor game presentation. It is always a good time playing games over the
net with other people, especially if you can manage to win a game or two. Having the computer handle the point keeping and
progression of the turns is a nice thing. And
having both players decide their actions at the same time and having the computer execute
the actions was a good idea. It was also nice
to have a Trainer that teaches you how to play the game and lets you practice
a little before you go out and get your butt kicked by players whove spent hundreds
of dollars on booster boxes.