So my Conquest order arrived and I played though a game last night. I’m not really impressed. Here’s the skinny. You can play as the Federation, Klingons, Romulans, Cardassians, Dominion, or Breen. Each race has different strengths and weaknesses as well as qualities that will be universal for all three of their ship types: Scout, Cruiser, and Dreadnought. Each race also has three Admirals to command their fleets of up to seven ships, and each Admiral can have one of three strengths: Attack, Defense, or Movement. These Admirals are all characters from the shows, and they level up with combat experience. If an Admiral’s fleet gets eliminated, they’ll lose all of their experience and can be repurchased at their homeworld. Judging by the question marks on the race selection screen, it looks like there are also some new races you can unlock by winning campaign games. There are Borg, Ferengi, and some other races occupying the neutral systems, so I’d guess those are what you can unlock.
Scotthal covered combat pretty well above, and yeah, the arcade combat is a pain. Left analog or pad for direction and speed, Right analog for weapon arc (very narrow), and R1 & R2 for firing weapons. The problem is the zoom level is so close and the ships move so fast that your targets are often off of the screen by the time you get the arc lined up. There’s no minimap, just arrows pointing to friendlies and enemies. You can jump into any of your ships or starbases to take command, and tooling around in the little scouts is kind of fun, but overall, it’s pretty sucky.
You can also simulate combat, which is what I ended up doing most of the time. When you simulate combat, you can specify an Attack, Defense, or Neutral stance, which gives bonuses and penalties as you might expect. The main problem with the simulated combat is that there’s no way to focus fire. There could be a fleet or starbase onscreen and some of your ships will be shooting at mining colonies or outposts, neither of which have any weapons. Simulated combat is kind of like combat in GalCiv 2 except that everything fires at anything.
Each system can have both a Starbase (basic or advanced) and either a Mining Colony or a Research Station. You can also fortify these structures with turrets for added defense. Mining Colonies boost the credit output of a system and Research Stations speed up the rate at which you get tech upgrades. Tech upgrades are global and affect Mining and Research rates as well as ship speed and maneuvering.
Each race also has access to three of the six Special Weapons, and their use charges up on a timer. These have various effects, and some examples are mass damage, mass repair, or an instant wormhole.
Apart from the campaign game, there’s also a skirmish mode. Skirmish mode is entirely the arcade combat, so I didn’t mess around with it too much. Basically, you set up the sides and fleet strengths and duke it out in a selected system.
Overall, I’d give this one a pass. You can get a better space strategy fix elsewhere. I guess it might appeal to you if you’re a die hard Trekkie, but I wouldn’t recommend it.