World War II. If I see another game about WWII I believe I may implode. The market is saturated with a swarm of Nazi slaying simulators that all seem to have been poured from the same blender, leaving a vast array of historical international carnage underappreciated in the gaming world. So it brightened my day to learn about American Conquest, a game that accurately depicts the conflict surrounding the discovery and colonization of our great home of the free.
American Conquest is brought to us by the same fellows who made Cossacks, and defined themselves as creators of historically accurate war, and follow suit with American Conquest. Spanning from the day Christopher Columbus landed on this rock to the Revolutionary War, American Conquest teaches as well as entertains while putting us in control of 12 nations and tribes in 8 campaigns and 42 missions. Before each mission you’re told the facts from history about the time period and conflict you’re about to take part in, making you feel oh-so-much-smarter for having played the game.
A historically accurate videogame? Rubbish, one would say, but American Conquest is most definitely the most accurate and historical game I ever laid fingers on. While not every mission is taken exactly from the history books (Christopher Columbus didn’t have to collect 1000 wood units to build a fort), every event is centered around fact, and could very well have happened. Before every mission you read and hear a passage explaining the events preceding or surrounding your mission, which goes into more detail than your 8th grade history teacher.
One thing this game brags about is its massive representation of war, and boy howdy they weren’t kidding. There are points where there are hundreds to thousands of units on the screen at once, which makes the game’s broad view option handy. Pressing a button will dramatically zoom out, giving you a total perspective of thousands of tiny little ant soldiers slashing away at each other.
The game’s graphics system is 3D rendered on a 2D base, meaning you don’t need that swell of a graphics card for the game to look beautiful. Buildings and landscapes are all very detailed and clean. The sound is dramatic, an orchestrated score that fits the mood well. And the menus are full of really great artwork.
Battle is definitely the main theme of the game, and is extremely micromanaged. Units have more moral if they are close to other units; they can be put in formations by sergeants and captains, drummers keep them motivated, and any building can be captured and used to attack from. While Age of Empires seems to lean towards the economics of it all, American Conquest pushes most of that aside for realistic battle.
Besides the humongous Campaign mode, there is a multiplayer mode (LAN or internet), and a single mission mode complete with level editor.
The bad & ugly
Much like eighth grade history class, this game teaches you America’s history like nobody’s business. Another trait shared with eighth grade history class is that it’s boring. At points the game seems to drag out like a bad novel, which may be great for history buffs, but the average “kill kill kill” gamer will be bored out of his socks within minutes. There aren’t any rendered movies, the only thing to push you forward is the speech between each level which are long-winded at best, also the text scrolls too fast in too small of a box to be able to read it, but it’s narrated which isn’t so bad.
It’s a tad disappointing that this game sticks so closely to the 2D RTS schema, as there’s no camera turning or manual zoom. The closest thing to a zoom is an expanded view which backs up to let you see pretty much everything – as pretty much tiny, it’s either that or normal view. Also, even with a moderate amount of memory the game starts to chug like grandpa’s Chevy when there are a few hundred units on the screen, and at some points there are a few thousand.
Neither CDV or GSC offer much support on their website. I had an issue where I couldn’t play the game unless I restarted the computer each time I wanted to play. Neither website offers any kind of FAQ for troubleshooting that could be of any help.
As I said before, the economics are shoved to the side to limelight the battle, which could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on taste. I personally like to build up a nice base before I pull any kind of hostile maneuvers, but in American Conquest it takes way too long for buildings to erect (stop giggling), and there never seemed to be that crunch for more food or wood so you can build more guys. Setting a few peasants on wood and foot patrol once and forgetting about them seems to do a dandy job. I expected the struggle for goods to be more prevalent, considering people came over here with boats and not much else. But hey, it’s just a game, right?
History buffs rejoice, carnage fans grumble. There is definitely that distinction in desire for this game. It’s not your usual RTS, Command and Conquer it is not, but it has its advantages. You do learn a lot about the America saga, but after a short while it starts to feel like homework.
INFORMATION ABOUT THIS CONTENT:
Date of publish: around 04.04.2003
Author: Aaron Dunlap
Language of publish: english