Date of publish: 15/11/2020 17:13 CET
American Conquest is a fairly unique RTS game based roughly on the time period of Christopher Columbus discovering America through the beginning of the 18th century. You have the option of playing 20 different nations with a wide range of units, buildings, and mission goals. Gamers get a chance to take part in historic battles that are realistic and entertaining. The real question on any gamers mind at this point must be, “How does American Conquest compare to other RTS games?” Let me lay it all out for you.
A big issue in these kinds of games is balance. The hallmark of these games is the development of strategies to defeat your opponent(s). If one side or country has a distinct advantage over the rest the game will lose a lot of its shine. I believe the reason few developers have attempted a game with this many different countries is that it becomes difficult to maintain unique units and game balance at the same time. American Conquest seems to do a fairly good job of this, however.
One thing I noticed right away was the vast difference in the speed of individual units. The Indian archers I came up against in the first mission were far faster than most of my Spanish units. This forced me to hunt them down and at times put my men in range of their base if I was to kill them. The Indians seem to be far better at guerilla warfare which gives them the ability to stage surprise attacks on other units and use their speed as an advantage. The more heavily armored countries like Spain have the advantage of defense. They can hole up in their fortresses and fend of enemies from a long distance away. They favor brute force over speed.
Another interesting aspect of this game is its historical accuracy. Before most missions there is a detailed narration of the history behind the battle. This will appeal to those who enjoy imagining themselves in the place of their officers and soldiers. Not everyone is a history buff though. Thankfully, if you don’t want all that history stuff you can just skip to the actual game.
The game is a bit more complex than some of its predecessors. Games like Command and Conquer or Starcraft have a couple resources to juggle, sometimes as many as four. This game has six resources including food, wood, stone, iron, gold, and coal. This allows for a bit more strategy, but can make micromanaging a bit difficult. In some games you can just stockpile one important resource and get by. That is not the case here, but it can turn out as an advantage in that you are not immediately shafted if your opponent corners the market on one of your resources.
Campaigns, on the other hand, were pretty standard. You build a little and explore a little and learn about your units. Thus far the game has been fairly easy, but given the depth of the units I assume that eventually it will become quite challenging. There is definitely enough here to keep most gamers entertained for many hours.
There are far more active units in this game than any other I’ve seen. Once you get set up you can be churning out hordes of peasants and military units. I will give the creators credit and note that the units do not all look the same, but I don’t completely share their opinion of the ease of commanding them. The formations you can create are a neat idea, but at times you can accidentally select them and pull soldiers from far off battles. These forces usually die before they get a chance to help in the battle you are currently waging due to shots from behind.
Most units have two forms of combat. They have a long distance weapon and a melee weapon. It was cool to see the guys mix it up with hatchets and sabers when they got close to each other. Variety is the spice of life, and this little addition definitely made things more interesting. Few people want to see the same death sequence over and over again. With two different weapons you get more realistic combat and a product that is a lot more entertaining to look at.
Some units such as the drummer or the flag bearer are completely unarmed. These units are there purely for boosting moral. If your units lose too much morale they will flee. This is a neat addition to things, but I still don’t think it is cool to arm a guy with nothing but a snare drum and a couple of drum sticks. Special units like that in other games always seem to have some kind of small defense mechanism like a little pistol or knife or something. American Conquest sticks to history though, so your drummer must accept the cards life has dealt him and tap his moral boosting rhythms right into impending doom.
My final judgment on American Conquest is a good one. It is a bit over complex at times, and I think the formation set up could have worked a little better, but overall the game is a success. It is probably more suited to the experience RTS gamer, but I have to admire the attention to detail put into the game. A lot of blood and sweat was put into this, and it shows in the final product. If you love the historic time period the game is set in and you are an experienced RTS gamer, have a ball. If you are new to the genre and want something to cut your teeth on you should probably seek out something a little simpler.
Written by Kevin Cross
Original date of publish: 17.04.2003