It is amazing how fast things can disappear in the insanity known as the holiday rush. Never has that been more apparent than with Bethesda’s latest outing Star Trek: Conquest for the Nintendo Wii. This simplified strategy title came out of nowhere, which is weird for a licensed game, especially one bearing the Star Trek monicker. Regardless the Wii is now home to its first title in the Star Trek universe unfortunately Conquest does little to change the trend of the series less-than-stellar reputation.
On the surface Conquest isn’t a broken game as much as it is a disappointing one. For starters the storyline for the game goes against just about anything the show stands for. As with any strategy title there are several different teams to choose from including the Federation, the Klingons, the Romulans, and others from the show. The idea is a race to wipe out the other five and become the ruler of the galaxy. As a strategy game it makes perfect sense; as a Star Trek game it is almost an insult to the franchise. Granted if you are not a fan of the show this won’t bother you and even if you are you could look at this as a sort of alternate take on the franchise, either way it isn’t representative of the series.
Being a strategy game and being on a Nintendo console Conquest is bound to harvest comparisons to series such as Advanced Wars or Fire Emblem, but for the most part it feels more like a dressed up board game that you play on your console. The menus and maps are simple with very little animation and window dressing. The premise should be familiar to fans of the genre. You select a race and are dropped into your home base from the outset. Here you will manage resources, engage in turn-based battles, and strive for territory control over the map.
The battle interface is very different from other games and spends more time focusing on stats and numbers than anything else. From the map you can move pieces into strategic positions and based on your different abilities. Once engaged you have the option to either sim out of battle or engage in an old-school arcade-like shootout neither of which is extremely engaging. For sim buffs all of the behind the scenes controls will feel rudimentary, but for newcomers there is a lot of fun to be had and a certain sense of accomplishment when moving fleets into position and dominating the map. Conquest is a simple game that relies on satisfaction as opposed to depth, which is both its strongest and weakest aspect.
While not nearly as deep as other titles in the genre there is enough here to warrant checking out if you are new to the genre or simply desire more action in the Star Trek universe. Each race is uniquely different in their unit cost and strategy that playing each one brings with it an entirely new experience. For anyone who has never experienced the addictive nature of resource mining and bunker building Conquest is a nice training ground to get your feet wet for the more in-depth strategy games.
Visually the depths of space are just as empty as you could imagine. It’s no secret that Conquest is a budget title, seeing as there is also a PS2 version you can tell which one the engine was based on. Horrendous frame rates and bland menus stand out as exceptionally bad aspects while the saving grace comes in the form of some minor fan service. Don’t expect to see any support for high definition either as the game runs at a paltry 480i and doesn’t support any form of widescreen. Sound is equally disappointing with repeating loops of dialogue and laughable comments from your crew. Overall the game feels cheap which fits the budget bill, but for twice the price of the PS2 version you would hope for a bit more in this category.
If the Wii iteration carried the same price tag as its PS2 cousin I could definitely recommend picking this one up. However, as it stands the price is a bit much for what you get here. Throw in a lack of any kind of multi-player and you have a game that is fun for an afternoon and not much beyond that. Hardcore fans of the series should give it a look, as long as you can get past the out-of-place story, and fans of the strategy genre will find a little solace here, but everyone else need not apply as Star Trek: Conquest is too simple and too bland to warrant its price tag.