For A Console RTS, This One Isn't That Bad, Or Maybe It Is
Star Trek: Conquest may be many things, but an excellent game it is not. In a world of horrible console based RTS games, Bethesda decides they will use their Star Trek license to put forth a game that is unique, but all together unimpressive. Your first clue to this fact might be the price tag. Clocking in at a very attractive 14.99 price point (Unless you ask GameStop who tacks on 5 extra dollars because they love money!) you really can't expect much and the very fact that the game is so ridiculously cheap makes it not really that bad of an offer, even for a sub-par game. For your pennies, you get a nifty sim experience rolled up with a feel of RTS.
Calling this title an RTS might be a little generous. In actuality it is more of a, um well let me just describe it for you. The game features two modes: Campaign and Skirmish. Campaign is the main source of fun here in which you take control of one of six factions, Federation, Klingon, Romulan, Cardassian, Dominion, or Breen and pit them against one or all of the rest in a turn based galactic domination style playing experience. This mode is mainly defined by a map with a bunch of planets on it. Everyone takes turns building, moving, and conquering. It's very simple to understand and jump right into. You get money at the beginning of each turn depending on the number of planets and mining facilities that you have. This money is good for constructing star bases, gun fortifications, mining facilities or research facilities. The main thing that will be using up your cash flow however is the fleet construction. Basically you can hire up to three fleet commanders. After ponying up for the commission of the commanders themselves, you then buy up to seven ships for each of their fleets. After you are satisfied with what you have, you go forth and attempt to capture planets and destroy enemy fleets to take control of the entire galaxy.
Mining facilities are good for money, but the other option is the research facility. These are handy for two things. The first is the special weapon, which is a choice of constructing one of three items that depends on which race you play as. These can do things such as isolate one planet so that enemy commanders can't get through, healing a system, cutting a system's health down by half. (meaning that any star bases, facilities, or fleets located there lose half their HP) or various other small affects to give you a slight advantage. Secondly, research facilities do research. Each race has five different characteristics that can be upgraded through research. These characteristics can be upgraded a total of three times per characteristic and vary from taking the price of ships down slightly to boosting efficiency on mining or research facilities, to even increasing ship attack power or HP. Both the special weapon and the upgrades take a certain number of turns before they can be used. The number of turns depends completely on the number of research facilities you own. Therefore it is possible to have a special weapon ready for each of your turns.
The extra draw for the game lies in the combat mechanic. When your fleet comes across into contact with an enemy fleet or an enemy structure, battle ensues. The battling itself can be done in one of three way: Instant, Sim, or Arcade. Instant is handy if you are confident enough that you will win the battle. Basically the computer randomly decides what happens and the battle is instantly over. Sim is a more traditional form where you see photons fired and phasers shot. This mode adds the ability to have your commanders take an offensive, defensive, or neutral battle plan and has the added ability of withdrawing (only if you initiated the attack) which can be handy so you don't lose your commander's experience, which is reduced to zero when they are completely defeated. Both of these modes pale in comparison to the last mode option, arcade. This puts you in actual command of a ship in a battlefield. You can move, target, fire, and basically free to take control of the battle from the front seat. This mode is very difficult but can be worth it if your good enough. The play experience here isn't all that exciting but it is a nice addition to an otherwise unimaginative gaming atmosphere.
All this aside, lets talk about the drawbacks. They are described quite well in one word, limited. Everything is very limited. Each race can only have a maximum of three fleets at any time. That's it! This makes it incredibly time consuming and gives the game more of that give an inch take and inch tug of war feeling. Another limitation is ships construction itself. There are only three classes of ship construction, light, medium and heavy. Also, each planet that you control has only two slots for construction, the first being reserved for either standard or advance star bases, and the second for either a mining facility or research facility and that's it. The gameplay is repetitive, the races don't seem well balanced, and all in all the game just feels like it missed something. However, these drawbacks aside it is a 15 dollar game, perhaps even less by the time you read this. Plus the game is fun, for a little bit at least. So if you want to support 15 dollar games coming out, really if you would rather pay 15 dollars and get a disc in your hands as apposed to paying for a virtual download game, then by all means support this cause. That's why I bought it. Final score is a 6 out of 10 putting it at "Fun" but if there was a special achievement for value, Star Trek: Conquest would earn that as well.