|System: PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Enlight S. / Infinite I.||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: DreamCatcher||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: March 11, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-8||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
In addition to the vast array of units and abilities available to the human and demon armies, both sides have access to several other resources located at random on the map. Once bested through combat or coercion, colonies of Demon Hunters and Tanebrae Cultists can be hired to do your bidding. Though costly to train, they provide some hefty backup and a necessary addition to your forces. Another powerful resource, called Demonstones, are scattered throughout the realm. Using priests or succubus, you can harvest the stones and use them to instantly summon fierce units in battle, boost lacking resources or cast magic to aid in your conquest.
The 3D visuals are a major step up from the past two games - rightly so considering the length of time since the last installment. The units, animations, buildings, and landscape are adequately designed, and they look good in most cases. Despite the improvements, the game is a little rough around the edges in some graphical areas. Units don't always look quite so hot when you zoom in for a closer look, but they're more than adequate.
The good aspects of Conquest are somewhat overshadowed by a few bugs that become serious irritants. First and foremost, the human tutorial stalls out early-on when a gate leading the way to a nearby kingdom you're meant to destroy in order to advance the tutorial simply does not open. It's frustrating being thrown a curveball of that magnitude when trying to learn the ropes. Figuring out some of the more involved aspects of the game is a pain without the tutorial, although you'll eventually pick up the rest through trial and error.
Once you get into the meat of the game, the next issue crops up when loading save files. Any hotkey group unit assignments will be lost each time you re-load your save. This seems like a minor oversight, but it can wreak havoc if you happen to save at a crucial point in a chaotic battle only to find all of your grouped armies running around every which way on a path to their own impending slaughter. Also, the general path-finding abilities of units isn't particularly sharp, and rather than moving in a relatively straight line, they'll occasionally find some pretty unique routes to get from point A to point B.
When you get down to it, Conquest feels more like a cousin to the series than a true follow-up. It certainly leans towards the traditional side of the genre with more of an emphasis on battle than on construction and micromanagement. This may be a put off for series fans who are expecting the same level of civilization building that gave the first two games feel a turn-based strategy vibe. If you prefer a more straight-forward RTS game, then the heavy Seven Kingdoms flavor might be less disappointing.
CCC Staff Contributor