the writings of a mind

Title: Star Trek: ConQuest Online
Genre: Online CCG
Big Word: Trump

It has to be said that one is on shaky ground when calling others geeky, especially from the insides of a PC games magazine. There are people who would look upon a high-quality journal such as this one and sneer at contained shenanigans. We of course realise that these people are wrong, and not worth worrying about, but it does rather beg cries of "hypocrite" when lambasting another specialist group for their proportional dorkiness. Fortunately, we at PC Gamer have a way around such things: We are obstinate, stubborn, always right, and couldnít care less. Let the lambasting commence.

In your travels through the isles and bays of your local computer games purchasing establishment you may well have come across small packs of cards enwrapped in silver foil, bearing bold names such as Magic, Star Trek, and most recently Pokemon. This latest fad aside, the previous two are aimed at adults who wish to buy and collect these cards, in order to play a game. This game strangely requires you to continue purchasing more and more packs of these cards, on the off-chance that you may stumble upon a "rare card", especially useful for play, and also worth money. Yes, itís Panini football stickers for grown ups.

This is all fine. Each to their own. If role-play was your game, it would seem to make more sense to dispense with the cards and find yourself some books and dice to do it properly, but never mind. However, when you discover that one said game is to appear online, the "geek-factor"ô really does start pushing into the red.

And this is what ConQuest is. The most successful set of the Star Trek CCGís (Collectable Card Game) has been picked up, shuffled, and dealt into byte-size portions (somebody stop me). Not a great deal about the original game has changed. You are a Q, a near-omnipotent creature capable of pretty much anything. This is a neat way of excusing the fact that you can control anyone from any part of the Trek universe, and have duplicate characters etc. You attempt to control regions of space by using tactics that consist primarily of playing cards with higher points that than the opponents. Itís all second-guessing and trap building really. Perhaps a combination of Risk, Diplomacy, and snap. But being on one of those new-fangled computer things, it has the advantage of managing your cards, picturing the battles, and solving all the maths juggling without any effort.

Despite my annoyance that as I write I have dropped a Jelly Tot in my freshly made cup of coffee, and hence am finding it to be nice about anything, I need to direct your attention to some positive comments in the attractively yellow box entitled "Did You Put On A Clean Pair Of Pants?". But for now, here are the negatives:

While ConQuest may do what it is meant to do with accuracy and efficiency, what it is meant to be doing isnít really worth doing in the first place. Itís a card game for goodness sakes. And unlike other card games where losing your own money is a sign of bad play, in ConQuest you will need to spend your actual real-life money to purchase new and better "pieces". While this supposedly adds weight to the pressure of a tournament, if you think about you are actually paying to play a game over and over again. You may as well install a coin slot on the side of your PC and charge yourself every time you switch it on.

This just strikes as something incredibly unimportant and trivial being taken far too seriously by far too many people. Unless you are a die-hard CCG-er with a disliking for maths, it really is hard to recommend this. But if you are, then you couldnít ask for a more comprehensive and well-coded way to play it online. Your call.

Margin Note:

Genetic Anomalies do not intend to wave a tear goodbye to their product once it hits the shelves. No, instead, like an over-protective mother, they will be keeping a close eye on things for the foreseeable future. They claim that they will happily code new sections for the program as and when the demand of the players appears. If many would like a role-play facility as part of the game, a role-play facility they will build. Or so they claim. Such dedication to a project is commendable, even if it is only a game of cards.

 Geekier than a convention of Dr Who fans with furry-collared anoraks.


Tech Specs:

Developer: Genetic Anomalies
Minimum System: Pentium, 8Mb RAM (yes, 8), internet connection
Recommended: A half decent ISP
Multi-player: Precisely
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