Real time strategy titles come in all sorts of shapes and sizes like StarCraft, Warcraft, Red Alert, Command and Conquer, and Total War to name a few. With these games in mind, Zero Blood Games set out to break the barrier put forth from micro-management and offer three distinct appeals for their title: massive battles, focus on strategy and tactics, easy access (browser based). While many of the previous mentioned titles encompass one or two of these attributes, Conquer Mars incorporates all three to a player’s fingertips for a one time price of $0.00?! A free-to-play indie RTS? I don’t know Fred…
In this particular genre, a story is the propelling purpose in tackling objectives. Conquer Mars takes place on planet Mars in 2075. Earth has seen better days as cooperation and prosperity existed in the early 2000′s for a collaborative effort to mine materials in space. The Earth Assembly and later Space Consortium were two organizations set in place to ensure balance of Earth’s superpowers to mutually gain advancements in other worldly ventures. While many years of peace were know to citizens of both Earth and those dwelling in space, both organizations started to lose power and eventually crumbled to those stricken with lust for money and power. Wars occurred back on Earth, and so the events started a chain reaction in the neighboring planet. Rogue miners and warring factions began vying for each other’s supplies on Mars.
How better to gain the upper hand in a space war than to send out drones to battle for you? In 2075, battles are not fought with stick nor stones but with tanks and remote controls.
We have identified that Conquer Mars has shifted away from micro-management ideals by completely wiping the slate clean of it. Resources are a key integral part of the game, but the acquisition of materials is not plagued with creating workers and sending them to do the work. Conquer Mars wants you to feel as though you are the general on the battlefield rather than a foreman dishing out routine jobs. Building structures and sub-structures are out the window as well with only a base structure to add upgrades like turrets or increased revenue to. Thus, by eliminating micro-management the title meets the requirement of focusing on strategy and tactics.
Starting a war should be strategic and meticulous, and so giving the power to create a force instantaneously to the players certainly has its perks. Unlike other RTS’s that make you wait to build units, forces can bought with resources and placed on the battlefield in mere seconds. So as long as the resources are available, units can continue to be built one right after another. And by doing so Conquer Mars met their requirement of creating massive battles.
The most important attribute that makes this RTS stand out from the rest is its availability. AAA titles normally cost your three sisters and a goat, but Conquer Mars is free-to-play. No goat giving here! – They can keep the sisters… With that being said the game has a lot to offer those of us that don’t want to spend a fortune to play a game title a few times a year at a LAN party. Did I mention it was browser based? The title takes moments to begin playing, and (BAM!) you are in the game – no extensive load times with under 7MB streaming.
Conquer Mars is not by any means graphic intensive yet ultimately serves as a bonus to the efficiency of the title’s gameplay. For those not use to playing internet games, the less you have to load the better. The lack of ‘lag’ can be easily noticed when commanding quite a large fleet (seen below).
As of right now models are few in comparison to the AAA’s but as the project moves along more combat units will be created for competitive play (paid membership) as well as to unlock. For those concerned that they will have a poorer chance of winning against those that purchase newer models right away, that is the point behind competitive play. As I understand it, a paid membership will grant access to the newer models whereas the free-to-play remains unaffected.
I feel that Zero Blood Games has a really good idea to share here. The idea of taking what normally is considered an AAA title and manipulating it to a free-to-play browser game will certainly garner some attention. There are some noteworthy arguments to be made here regarding the direction of micro-management as well as the lack of a campaign to enhance the storyline. With the removal of micro-management, the Conquer Mars enables a sense of ‘pure fighting’ by conjuring large sums of forces in a moments notice. A story in an AAA title will notably shine brighter as more time and effort will be placed in cinematic cut-scenes and campaign modes, but a game that allows you to play up to eight players for free…