One Of The First Things I Ever did when I first got an Internet account was to subscribe my e-mail address to the nasa Press Release Mailing List. Cool, I thought, actual nasa press releases. I'll get to hear about all sorts of top secret space stuff that only the President of the Americas gets to know - orbiting mind control lasers, satellite platforms with nukes pointed at the Russias, authentic ufo sightings by space shuttle pilots. It would be tops.
In truth nasa press releases are as dull as every other kind of press release in the world. In the past month alone I've learnt about various us schools that are being signed up to nasa's scientific educational programme, the various hirings and resignations of several astronauts, the names of the crews of future shuttle missions, the fact that the Hubble telescope keeps seeing pulsars and quasars that mean stunning new breakthroughs in scientific theories about how clouds are formed and how a race of silicon-based aliens from Jupiter have begun to invade Earth.
Okay, the last one was actually on a press release from eidos and concerns their new Command & Conquer-style strategy game. Conquest Earth. But let's face it, if aliens did ever invade nasa would have a lot more to worry about than letting the world's fluffy hoods know, don't you think?
In a nutshell (a walnut shell, peanuts are too small to be used as effective information carrying systems), when the Galileo probe entered Jupiter's atmosphere last year, it alerted us to the presence of a strange new lifeform in the gaseous giant. Unfortunately, it also alerted them to our presence and for reasons that are best known to them and Data Design (the game's programming team), they want to take over Earth.
Apparently, the Jupitians (as eidos insist on calling them. Jovians! Things to do with Jupiter are called Jovian and for the rest of this Blueprint I shall refer to them thus, no matter how scornful a look the eidos pr rep throws at me) in the game are based on real scientific theories about how if another dominant, sentient lifeform were to exist in this great big universe, it would be silicon-based and come from Jupiter. Of course, scientific theories used to hold that the Earth was flat and if you sailed over the edge you'd be eaten by a giant space rabbit so I wouldn't put too much faith in it.
Being silicon in nature, it means that the Jovians (hah!) have a special feature that we plain old carbon-based lifeforms don't - the ability to morph. How speaking in a speeded-up high-pitched voice and existing in Tony Hart's pencil box will help in taking over the world is anyone's guess but there you go (What it actually means is that the Jovians are able to transform from one kind of unit to another, can fade into the background chameleon-style and are as hard as nails. Am I going to have to do everything for you? - Ed.).
Hardly fair, is it?
As always in these Invasion Earth scenarios, the odds are heavily stacked against the plucky old humans. Which is why it's something of a blessing that Conquest Earth allows you to play on either side of the fence. Be the heroic Earthlings, marshalling your meagre forces as you try to throw off the shackles of the evil invaders, or control the rather more impressive Jovians and their mighty war machines who are practically invincible and have odds of 7-4 on at William Hill to be victorious.
Of course, things aren't that hopeless for Earth. As the impressive (and lengthy) intro sequence shows, we're more than capable of putting up a fight, whether it's with Babylon 5-style space fighters or the more mundane military jets and helicopters. Plus, Data Design have developed what they feel to be the most advanced form of computer ai yet seen in a game. Using neural networking as a basis (the processes involved in sending information around your brain in the form of electrical pulses), it essentially means that the computer can react to your moves in a very human way and your own troops all behave very realistically. The computer can be devious enough to set up traps and ambushes, but also vulnerable enough to fall for any unorthodox strategies you might come up with.
Don't worry about it. It's just a fancy way of saying if you screw up, it's your fault not the game's. Let me just round this all off by telling you about the presentation and graphical style, because they're great, it's all you really care about (be honest) and I would be remiss in my duties as a journalist writing a preview if I didn't. Conquest Earth looks absolutely fanrillious. Stylewise it borrows heavily from a lot of sources (War Of The Worlds, Independence Day, Babylon 5, Predator, to name but a few) and you'd be forgiven for saying, Lawks, it's a bit C&C-ish, isn't it, Prez? when you look at the in-game shots (even though I'd punch you in the mouth for being too familiar).
Data Design have gone overboard on the graphical innovation front in order to make things look smarter than a Saville Row suit. Lightwave 3D, alias rendering, 3DS, fully textured terrains and light-sourcing all contribute to the looks, while fully three-dimensional sound effects that use Realtime Stereo Distancing and a full, dramatic musical score pump up the atmosphere and make you wish you'd received a pair of large speakers for Christmas instead of that Harry Enfield video.
All in all, a potentially superb strategy game awaits, by Jove (you just had to sneak that one in, eh? - Ed.). The only thing we need now is a release date and a playable version to review. Soon, baby, soon.
Jupiter - The Gas Giant
In December 1995, astronomers and scientists around the world saw the final results of one of the most advanced space missions the Earth had undertaken since a man called Buzz said, Can't I go first, Neil? After a lengthy journey across the infinite blackness of space, NASA's Galileo probe started its kamikaze dive into the atmosphere of the planet Jupiter, where the dense pressures of the different gases that make up the planet would crush it like a beetle.
Earlier, in July 1994, Jupiter was once again the subject of global attention as it played host to a string of small (relatively) comet fragments. The Shoemaker-Levy Comet bombarded the gas giant, forever changing its appearance.
What conclusions could we draw from all these galactic incidents? First, space is constantly surprising us, always offering new wonders and expanding our scientific horizons. Second, Jupiter is an attention-seeking bastard.
Download Conquest Earth
Systems: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game features:Single game mode