Acorn User1st June 1988
Published in Acorn User #071
Conqueror features David Braben's 3D plotting routines as used in Zarch, a selection of real tanks, a handful of digitised sounds and, quite honestly, very little else.
There are three ways to play the game: you can either get some shooting practice in arcade mode, some tactical practice in attrition mode, or play the real game in strategy mode. I found arcade mode was useful to get used to the keys, but very dull in gameplay. I got nowhere in attrition mode and ended up almost straight away in strategy mode. I tired of the game very quickly, and play it much less than Zarch.
The idea behind strategy mode is to take control of the objective, a white circle on the map, for at least 60 seconds. Extra points are awarded if you do well and you progress to the next level. In between levels you are permitted to increase your battalion by buying more tanks - the higher your score the more you can buy. Your enemy, the computer, also battles for control of the objective and if it manages to maintain a foothold for that vital minute then you lose.
There are a number of serious bugs in the program, all of which greatly detract from a good game. Your tank can get stuck on debris, making it impossible to move, your bullets quite often appear in the wrong place, and you can even fire through solid objects.
The plotting routines, although fast, frequently get very confused as to which surface to plot. Objects get too bright when in the foreground, the edges of the displayed area curl up, objects disappear too suddenly at the edges and seeing view under the landscape is common.
The game is slow and the animation jerky - bigger steps are used to make it appear faster. The keys are awkward to use and not redefinable, while the mouse control is useless. My biggest complaint is that there is only one viewing angle. You can often be fighting a battle behind a hill or a house and not be able to see your tank. The addition of east, west and north views would improve things or better still, an out-of-tank view.
Every cloud does have a silver lining and Conqueror's main plus point is the digitised sound. It sounds brilliant through my hi-fi: tanks rolling along, firing and explosions are all perfectly reproduced. The map display is also nice. The random layout of roads and houses makes each game different and the representation of the tank tracks is very good.
Overall, Conqueror is not up to the standards of many BBC games. It would be nice to see a game the Archimedes can do with its hands tied behind its back rather than some spruced-up graphic demos that it can only just manage. I can't recommend Conqueror, especially at 25 quid a throw.