Date of publish: 16/09/2021 16:37 CET
If you ask a person on the street what the next major American conflict was after our Revolutionary War, they will probably say the Civil War. That is unless they know that at one point the British came back to America to try and reassert control over their wayward colonies, or they are Texan and they know of the War for Texan independence. American Conquest takes the Eye of Entertainment ™and turns it to this woefully neglected period of history.
American Conquest puts you at the armies of the Unionists, the Confederate, the Texans or the Mexicans. Their generals are yours to command as you play out some of the influential battles that helped define our country at a time when we were still growing. And possibly the best part? ITS NOT OMAHA BEACH! There is no mention of Germans or of the Japanese or airplanes or any of that overused junk in here. Its like a breath of fresh air. Beyond the obvious aesthetic appeal of not storming Omaha for the upteenmillionth time one thing that becomes apparent is massive campaigns you are involved in. Yes, it is an isometric RTS, don’t hold that against it. The textures that it uses are serviceable, but right out of the bat, on screen you will have about 70 units firing away at the enemy. There can be hundreds under your command and it pulls it off without a hitch. Some machines may face a bit of a slowdown with that many units, but not a whole lot.
Some RTS games allow you to rush an area and just soak up losses in an effort to take one patch of ground. American Conquest has this morale system where if your guys are tired, surrounded, unexperienced or if a large number of them die at the same time they will flee the battle, sometimes even saying things like “They are killing us all”. Its very satisfying to see your enemy start to flee when your army encircles them and kills off forty units at the same time. If the same happens to you it can be quite the chore to round up your units and get them back ship shape. So it is something that you have to watch out for and use to your advantage.
Another thing you have to keep an eye out for is your supplies. You have several which you have to keep track of, the most important being food. The strongest army to the lone soldier requires food and without it your people will soon die off from famine, and quickly. Some soldiers are builders and farmers and in some levels there are crops that can be harvested. It helps to hammer home some lessons that need to be learned about warfare.
Even with all of its high points the game does have its share of issues. There are next to no hints the game gives you to help achieve your objective, the objectives, though vaguely outlined are nonexsistant which leaves you guessing at where you are supposed to go next. The menus are somewhat of a pain to navigate and there is a lot of guess work if you just want to jump into a game. In RTS games it is a big help to be able to group your units and assign them a number for quick recall later. In this game you can do that, but unlike many other RTS’ if you select your whole group, assign them a number and then take a smaller group out of that and number them, they all will retain the first selection. Most RTS games after you create a new group from an existing they are separated from the original, it can be a bit of a headache to try and move your units when this happens.
Also, while it is impressive to have hundreds of units on your field at the same time, do we really have to watch them file onto the screen for ten minutes?! In the Battle for New Orleans, you get about 20 groups of soldiers to help you fight, each group has 81 individuals to its name, and they all file on screen, group after group after group. It does give a sense of enormity, but dang. I’d like to play the game sometime soon.
If you do get bored with the standard historical maps, you can always create or download new ones. Its packaged with a level editor so you won’t get too bored. I wish more games would allow you to do that actually. If I could change one thing about it I would have increased the soundtrack size. While it does have some fine old tunes for you to enjoy, they loop fairly often and about the fifth time you hear one of those tunes in about as many minutes it can get annoying. And while this isn’t really a plus or a minus for the game it was still strange enough to point out. When I started a new campaign it asked me for a name, but already had one in there. That name was Oracle, the name of my computer. It automatically put it in there. Nigh on creepy, but also kinda nice. Less typing = faster to the gaming.
Divided Nation is probably one of the more fresh games I’ve seen in a while. You aren’t fighting axis soldiers, its rarely seen (in the game world anyhow) American history and you get to control some of the most influential generals that our country has ever seen. The attention paid to the historical aspects of the game is almost staggering, the art direction is very stable and helps give the game a wonderful feeling. I almost wish that they would have gone into more detail with the Battle of New Orleans and the War of 1812. It would have been a kick to try and boot the British out of Washington DC while it burned. Maybe for their next game, hmmm?
+ Lots of attention to detail
+ Morale system can be lots of fun!
+ Custom Maps
+ Historical fun.
+ Gadzillions of troops.
– Obtuse objectives
– The soundtrack gets oldish after a bit
– Long setup for some battles.
Under the Shrinkwrap
American Conquest is a solid RTS that will entertain many a history buff and the casual gamer alike. Though it does have its share of issues, the game is still worth checking out.
Written by Mike Morgan
Original date of publish: 20.04.2006