Conquest: Frontier Wars is a space-based real-time strategy game released in 2001 by Ubisoft and Fever Pitch Studios. A good amount of the development was done at Digital Anvil in Austin, Texas, a startup developer originally owned by Chris Roberts, Erin Roberts, Eric Peterson, John Miles, Tony Zurovec, Marten Davies and Robert Rodriguez. Once Microsoft purchased Digital Anvil, Eric Peterson and Tom Mauer left to form Fever Pitch Studios Inc, and lead a team to complete the game as originally intended by the team.
The game is planned to be re-released on Good Old Games in Q1 2013 with updated interface, soundtrack and optimized for newer systems.
The game is set in 23rd century. Players are put in the shoes of a young aspiring commander of the Terran Fleet, as he is assigned to find the missing exploration vessel TNS Andromeda. Eventually Terrans become engulfed in a devastating civil war between the Mantis factions, that eventually becomes a conflict known as the titular Frontier Wars, and must struggle for their race's survival. Your actions will direct the tides of the conflict.
Bases could be constructed on any discovered planets in any system, but would not be operable until a wormhole connecting that system to a friendly one was locked with a jumpgate or until a friendly Headquarters, Cocoon or Acropolis was constructed in the system. Supplies played a vital part in offensive operations, as each ship carried only a limited amount of supplies, which were depleted as weapons and special devices were used. Ships with fully depleted supply stores were then rendered completely ineffective until they returned to a supply base for reloading. For this reason, players could not maintain the momentum of their assaults in enemy-controlled systems unless their fleet was accompanied by supply vessels.
Conquest featured a number of Admirals in the single-player campaign, which functioned similarly to hero units. In single-player skirmish and multiplayer games, Admirals acted essentially as leader units (Warlords for Mantis and Magistrates for Celareons). Entire squadrons of other ships could be grouped with an attached Admiral shuttle; this endowed the Admiral's combat bonuses upon the entire fleet and allowed the player to better control their forces. When a Leader is joined with a fleet, every ship in the fleet is given a 10% bonus to supply, damage, speed, etc., and depending on the Leader's flagship in the Terran campaign, an additional 10% bonus would be given to certain ships in the fleet. All Leaders are different, and give a few effects a 25% bonus instead of the standard 10% bonus.
Humans have long waged war with each other. This has not changed when interstellar travel was discovered. The game is vague on the events between now and the beginning of the campaign; however, a war called the 'Succession Wars' is mentioned to have occurred just before the Tau Ceti incident in the briefing of the very first mission in the Terran campaign. After the war, humanity is more or less united, and the Terran Navy is as strong as ever.
Harsh realities of war have forced Terrans to create powerful warships to defend themselves. Since energy shields are a fairly recent addition to ship defenses, most ships are forced to rely on their great hull strength to keep them intact. This, in turn, forces humanity to constantly expand in search of resources necessary for ship construction. The Navy is made up primarily of capital ships with Corvettes making up the bulk of the fleet. The most powerful ship class in the Terran Navy is the Dreadnought with powerful cannons and a shield that can be overloaded to make the ship invulnerable to damage, though this ability chews into the ship's supplies, and will soon have to be returned to a friendly repair/resupply platform or HQ. The Terrans also possess powerful battlestations called Ion Cannons, capable of destroying most ships with one shot from half of a system away. An Ion Cannon's main drawbacks are its slow turning speed, low rate of fire, and high supply use, forcing them to be placed inside a friendly resupply ring if the player doesn't want a resupply ship to be stationed next to it at all times. Terran units and structures cost proportionately more Ore resource than any other race in the game, but their larger ships also require an almost equal amount of the Gas resource, as well as the Crew resource. Again, the larger/more advanced the ship or platform, the more resources needed to construct it.
"Mantis" was the name given to the first alien race discovered by humanity because they have much resemblance to the Praying Mantis on Earth. The Mantis are insectoids, more than twice the height of humans, and have a hive-like social structure, ruled by a queen. Unlike Earth insects, the entire Mantis race has only one queen, and the firstborn female offspring of the queen is the sole heir to the throne, often causing sibling rivalry. An example of this sibling rivalry is when the Mantis Warlord Ker'Tak rebels against the Mantis empire, and enlists the help of humanity to destroy the queen, Warlord Ver'Lak. Because of their high reproduction rate, the Mantis are constantly searching for new worlds to colonize and, if necessary, conquer. They tend to see all other races as inferior. It is also very consistent in Mantis behavior to sacrifice many for a higher purpose, as stated by Celareon Magistrate Elan in the briefing of the 12th mission in the Terran campaign.
Driven by their need for more worlds, the Mantis have created powerful fleets to further that goal. Because of their hive-like mindset, the majority of the ships tend to be carriers, sending swarms of fighters to overwhelm the enemy defenses and crush them without putting the main fleet itself in jeopardy. This same mindset explains why the strongest Mantis ship is the supercarrier Tiamat, which can launch multiple wings of heavy bombers to leave the enemy no chance of escape. If all fighters/bombers are destroyed, however, the carriers are left completely defenseless. That is why they are also supported by other close-range Mantis craft. Mantis units and structures cost proportionately more of the Crew resource than any other race, similar to how Terrans use more of the Ore resource and how the Celareons use more of the Gas resource.
Very little is known about the origins of this race of pure energy. Cursed to spend their lives trapped in mechanical containers, they nevertheless praise their unknown creators. Celareons possess extremely advanced technology. They are even able to create artificial wormholes, and this knowledge is coveted by the Mantis and is one of the reasons the two races are in conflict. Celareons consider themselves to be peaceful and are only interested in the pursuit of knowledge. They do, however, realize that they live in a hostile universe and must, therefore, protect themselves. While usually Celareons are unified, there have been disagreements regarding the war with the Mantis: some believe that peace should be made at any cost, including handing over the artificial wormhole technology to the Mantis; others claim that the Mantis cannot be allowed to get their hands on the technology, as it could allow the enemy to bypass the static wormhole network and strike at the very heart of Celareon space.
Like Terrans, Celareons prefer capital ships to fighters. Unlike Terrans, they have no fighter capability. To a human eye, Celareon ships look like giant creatures of the sea. Their graceful, nearly transparent looks hide deadly weapons and defenses, which they do not hesitate to use when threatened. The most awe-inspiring ship - the Monolith, ensures that most enemy ships do not survive an encounter with the Celareon fleet. Because the Celareons are by nature a peaceful race, most of their ships (Except the Trireme and Monolith, the two most powerful Celareon ships in the game) are not well-suited for close-combat, instead possessing better range and supply. Furthermore, the Celareons possess very powerful and diverse static defensive weapons structures. Celareon units and structures cost proportionately more of the Gas resource than any other race.
Originally the game was supposed to have four races, but the fourth race was cut out before the game was released and there are still traces of their code in the game: the fourth race was the lizard-based Vyrium. This race was eventually intended to be introduced in the game's sequel, Vyrium Uprising.
Conquest's storyline is set two hundred years in the future, where interstellar travel was possible by jumping through networks of wormholes leading to other systems.
Following a series of internal conflicts, mankind has discovered a wormhole leading to an unknown system, Tau Ceti. Arriving in the Tau Ceti system, the TNS Andromeda, under the command of Rear Admiral Tackwhether Hawkes, is caught between a small, fast, unidentified alien spacecraft and its pursuers. After the Andromeda is destroyed in a collision with a massive alien warship, you, as the anonymous Commander, are ordered by Admiral William Halsey to investigate. With the help of Captain Thomas Blackwell, you begin exploring uncharted wormholes in order to discover what happened to the Andromeda and to find and rescue Admiral Hawkes if he is still alive.
After learning that Admiral Hawkes escaped the destruction of the Andromeda and has been taken prisoner by the unidentified alien race, dubbed the "Mantis", you penetrate deeper into hostile territory in order to rescue him. Soon, Earth and its Navy find themselves embroiled in the middle of a Mantis civil war, with the usurper Queen Ver'Lak fighting her sister, Warlord Ker'Tak. Fearing for its own safety in the face of the massive Imperial Mantis fleet, Earth assists Ker'Tak in the fight. In response, Ver'Lak assigns her chief Lieutenant, Warlord Malkor, to hunt down and destroy Earth.
During a dangerous mission to rescue Mantis warlords still loyal to Ker'Tak, Captain Blackwell's corvette is lost in a rogue black hole while trying to see what happened to a ship you send to scout beyond an uncharted wormhole. In spite of this tragic loss, Halsey and Ker'Tak order a large-scale offensive against Malkor's supply lines in the Orion Arm, assigning Admiral Benson to assist you. Benson is a good soldier, but is hardly pleasant to work with, as she fully blames you for her friend Blackwell's death.
Blackwell turns out to be very much alive, however, returning in a critical moment with yet more alien reinforcements. The Celareons have constructed a type of artificial wormhole technology, and had tested it out in the rescue of Captain Blackwell from the black hole, and used it again to transport him back to a Mantis controlled system that the Terrans are attacking. A meeting is soon arranged between the Terran Admiralty and the ruling council of the energy-based Celareons. The territory of this advanced species sits astride the raging Mantis Civil War, and the conflict threatens to engulf their systems.
The two races agree to an alliance against Ver'Lak's forces, but the meeting soon reveals a surprising and dangerous development. Admiral Halsey is shown a data transmission, sent from the heart of Terran space to the Mantis, which was intercepted and recorded by the Celareons. Vital information on Earth's location and defensive systems has been leaked to the Mantis by a Terran traitor, prompting a massive investigation to discover who has betrayed humanity to its enemies.
The ambitious Admiral Smirnoff discovers proof to Admiral Halsey that Admiral Hawkes is the traitor, apparently coerced during his captivity by the Mantis. However, Captain Blackwell remains thoroughly unconvinced, and uses his Celareon-retrofitted corvette to shadow Smirnoff's dreadnaught. Listening in under cloak, Blackwell discovers that Smirnoff is the real traitor and that he is trying to eliminate Hawkes. The depth of Smirnoff's treachery is revealed when he destroys his own ship after General Malkor uses the newly acquired wormhole technology to save him from the vessel on self destruct. Blackwell is able to retrieve Hawkes' prison pod from the ship before it explodes, and the exonerated Admiral returns to service.
It was Admiral Smirnoff who gave the Mantis the plans of Sol's defenses, in the megalomaniacal hope of ruling all mankind as a Mantis proxy following their invasion. Warlord Malkor, however, has no intention of letting the human race survive to pose a threat, and betrays Smirnoff. As a result, you and your forces find yourselves making a mad rush to defend Earth against the Mantis onslaught.
Admirals Hawkes, Steele, and Takei hold back the assault and soon take the war to Mantis territory. They discover from Warlord Ker'Tak that Malkor, nestled deep in the heart of Mantis space, is building a massive superweapon that is powerful enough to render an entire planet uninhabitable. Once completed, Malkor will go on a rampage with this new weapon and the bulk of the Mantis fleet, launching an unstoppable onslaught against the Rebel Mantis, Terrans, and Celareons.
Thus the race begins to get to Malkor's building site before he can launch this devastating weapon. After a series of furious battles, the combined Rebel/Terran/Celareon fleet manages to break through the Mantis defenses, destroying Ver'Lak, Malkor, and his superweapon. The cost, however, has been high. Earth herself has been attacked, thousands of Terran warships and several colonies have been destroyed, and mankind's casualties alone rack up in the thousands of trillions. Celareons themselves have disappeared shortly after victory, erasing all trace of their existence from Terran computers and networks, but the Terrans still left alive haven't forgotten about the Celareon's existence.
However, the game suffered a crippling lack of publicity. Despite this, the game went on to sell around 300.000 copies, according to the project lead.
Conquest 2: Vyrium Uprising was announced in 2004 as successor to Conquest: Frontier Wars. The developer Warthog Texas, nee Fever Pitch Studios, was bought by Tiger Telematics and made to work on games for the ill-fated Gizmondo hand-held game console. The fate of Conquest 2 was unclear after Tiger's subsequent bankruptcy.
Recently, the original developers resurfaced to form a Kickstarter campaign: Conquest 2 Vyrium Uprising - RTS fans unite !. Their aim is to crowdsource the development of the game, which they claim is about 50% complete.
- ↑ http://www.spacegamejunkie.com/news/conquest-frontier-wars-coming-gog/
- ↑ Conquest's Metacritic page
- ↑ http://pc.ign.com/articles/160/160585p1.html
- ↑ http://worthplaying.com/article/2002/2/22/reviews/2468/
- ↑ http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1869102574/conquest-2-vyrium-uprising-rts-fans-unite
- ↑ http://www.gamespot.com/conquest-2-the-vyrium-uprising/
- ↑ http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1869102574/conquest-2-vyrium-uprising-rts-fans-unite