Colonial Conquest II

Title           Colonial Conquest II
Game Type       Strategy
Author          Christian Mumenthaler (PD)
Players         1 or 2
HD Installable  Yes
Compatibillity  All
Submission      Joachim Froholt Profiled Reviewer

Recently, a friend of mine and I began trying out the good old games we
used to play back when we were younger and could spend entire days playing
strategy games. This was mostly for nostalgic reasons, and we didn't
really expect to begin playing any of the games seriously. That's why
we're so surprised, now that we've stopped playing pretty much everything
but one of these games, namely Colonial Conquest II.

So, then, what is Colonial Conquest II? Simply put, it's a turn based
strategy game, set in space. The goal is to wipe out the other player, be
it the computer controlled robots or a player controlled empire. The main
screen of the game is a planet map where you can see 25 planets. You start
out with a colony on one of these planets. If you click on this planet,
you will come to the planet screen, which looks a lot like the city screen
in Civilization. You have a view of the planet surface, in which you can
select where you want your colonists to work. As in Civ, different terrain
types yield different amounts of resources. There are two types of
resource: Food and materials. A surplus of food will allow your
population to increase (if you've got room for them), and a surplus of
materials will make you able to build stuff. You can build a good number
of structures (all of which need to be placed on the planet surface).
Some of these will improve the particular terrain they're placed on, while
others are general planet improvements, such as granaries, city complexes,
ground defence cannons, etc.

If you've built a Star Port, you will be able to build space ships, which
will let you travel to other planets. There are a number of different
military ship types, ranging from the poor but cheap Fighter to the mighty
Battlestar. You can also build colony ships, which will enable you to
build bases on other planets, providing that you place 1-4 colonists
aboard the ship. You will also be able to build Transport Ships, Troop
Transporters and Exploration Ships. The final ship is the Stargate Ship
which will construct a hyperspace gate near a selected planet - travelling
through space takes a lot of time, and you can cut back on this time by
employing hyperspace gates.

You can also change your colonists into scientists. Each scientist
generates one (or two, if he has access to a university) science points
per turn. When you have amassed a certain amount of science points, you
will reach another technology level, which will provide you with more
construction options. Needless to say, it will be handy with some of the
later technologies when it is time to consider war. Speaking of war, if
you've built a barracks on the planet, you can also change your colonists
into soldiers.

One very important resource is energy. There are three different power
plants available, plus a cheaper energy collector which will amass a small
amount of energy (the amount depends on the terrain it's on). More complex
structures require energy to function, and there's also a number of other
uses for this resource.

As I said, you're not alone in the universe. This is where the neat range
of intelligence options come into play. Spy satelites can be used to view
the various installations on an enemy planet, but can be disposed of with
the appropriate counter measures. Short and Long Range Scans are immensely
useful as they show all ship movement within a certain radius (the scanner
must, obviously, be placed on one of your worlds, and needs a lot of
energy to operate), something which is very helpful for getting an idea
of where your enemy centers his efforts, and extremely helpful if you
happen to spot a bunch of ships headed your way. You can't tell what type
of ships he's sending, though. The great thing with these options is that
they can tell you a lot about your opponent - but not too much. Even
though you have a good general idea about where his colonies are, even
their sizes, you will always feel the need to know more. What's his
strategy, what about his technology level, how many and what types of ship
does he own... This is what makes this game such an excellent two player
game. There are so many questions that you want to ask your opponent, but
how do you ask without letting him know something about you? Trading (or,
rather, trying to lure out) information when you're not actually sitting
in front of the computer can be terribly exciting, and it really adds to
the gameplaying experience.

Colonial Conquest II can also be played against the computer, but this is
less satisfying since the computer will never use the full range of
options available. Also, you can't discuss the game with him when you're
not playing, but it is certainly enough fun to keep you occupied for a
good while, and the game is well worth getting, even if you don't plan to
play against a fellow human being.

The presentation is quite good. The graphics are functional - certainly
nothing spectacular, but not too bad for a PD game. The music deserves
special mention, because it is pretty good, and manage to loop and loop
and never get tiresome, much like the tune from The Settlers. There's few
ingame sound effects, but this isn't so bad, because you wouldn't want
noises to give away your actions if your opponent is in the same room. The
user interface is very intuitive, and if you need help, you can consult
the in-game manual at any time. This manual could have been easier to
read, though.

All in all, I can find few things to hold against this game. The computer
AI could have been better, and it would have been neat if it was possible
to play a game with, say, two human players and one computer player, but
not really neccessary. More advanced trading options would have been cool,
too. I personally don't like the long range cannons or planet destroyers
very much, but the computer doesn't use these against you, and you can
always have some rules if you play against a friend.

To conclude this review, then, Colonial Conquest II is a fantastic little
game. If you like two player strategy games, you can't go far wrong with
this one. As a one player game it struggles when compared to Civilization
(which it borrows a lot of elements from), but quite frankly, so do most
other strategy games... Download now!

Note: The author (Christian Mumenthaler) used to sell a map editor for
this game. I doubt he still does this, but there's a free alternative
available if you're not satisfied with the maps you get with CCII. Fellow
AGDB reviewer, Joona I Palaste, has created an editor which is available
from the Aminet.

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