It's life, Jim, and pretty much as we know it
Stretch out far enough and before long you'll start bumping into the aliens. At this point things start to get more interesting, but it isn't long before you realise that this is simply by dint of there being more going on. One of the key marketing features Gremlin were making about the game was the use of face-to-face diplomacy. Once again, though, this side of things fails to live up to its promise. Essentially, you can either sign a peace treaty with another race, sign a joint combat treaty with them against another race, or accuse them of spying. And that's it.
What the whole process lacks, once again, is any feeling of depth. There arc no subtleties, no specifics. You can say, Help me fight these guys, but you can't say how. You can just set a time limit within which they have to launch an attack or pay a fine. Instead you want to be able to form detailed battle strategies, combine forces, ask them to send certain troops and so on.
The flip side is the peaceful negotiating that goes on. Again, no depth. This boils down to a Cnoattacking' policy. Rather than that, you want to be able to trade knowledge and technologies, to combine mining resources and set up joint operations, all the things that help to improve your operations. What little trading that goes on between the races boils down to either buying and selling surplus ore stocks, buying and selling missiles, or buying and selling strange goods that you can't actually use other than for trading to someone else.
Occasionally you are given the choice of sending spies to other asteroids to report back on their status or sabotage some of their facilities. This perks things up a little but isn't enough.
When two tribes go to war...
The final thing to look at are the actual combat procedures. Again, these are very basic and leave you with little feeling of control. You can build ships, assign them to fleets and tell them to go and fight someone, but then it's out of your hands. The only things you control are how many ships do battle and when they should retreat. There's no room for tactics and no chance for detailed plans. It isn't possible to co-ordinate your attacks with other races and, more than that, you don't even always get to see what's going on. Fragile Allegiance's biggest problem is that it's all surface. There were a few nice ideas here, but never do you really get the feeling that there's very much going on behind the scenes. Every new game runs along very similar lines and without that room for variety, you find yourself with very little incentive to return to it. Resource management games all tend to work along similar lines. Unfortunately, it's the levels of depth they add to them that makes the difference.
Fragile allegiance's concept is pretty much the same as that of its two main rivals, Ascendancy and Masters Of Orion II, with perhaps a little more emphasis on the mining side of things. There is a field of asteroids circling the rim of the known universe that have been found to be rich with valuable ore deposits. Keen to make a quick spacebuck, the Terran mining company Tetra-Corp have sent you there to oversee the colonisation of as many of the rocks as possible.
The only flaw in the plan is that you're not alone. Six other alien races have all set up shop there and are trying to mine the area themselves. So the game becomes a balance between finding and colonising unowned asteroids and fending off the interests of your rivals, either through peaceful negotiation or via deadly force.
In theory this all sounds great. Unfortunately, the theory sounded just as great when Ascendancy came up with it. And just as great when the original Masters Of Orion came up with it before that. But where Ascendancy learnt to take the concept and develop a captivating way of playing it out. Fragile Allegiance just takes the concept fails to add anything new or significant in the process. Further than that, it even loses a lot of the depth necessary for a game like this, making the whole affair a very shallow and unsatisfying one.
One of the key things about resource management games is that they should always be able to offer new and exciting challenges for the player the longer he sticks with it. Fragile Allegiance shows signs of this in some places - the initial contacts with the other races or the introduction of spies, for instance - but, unfortunately, these are both very limited in number and not particularly intriguing once you get to them. Let me take you through the game's stages and show you where it goes wrong in each.
The first stage of the game deals with finding new asteroids and setting up mining colonies on them. Initially this looks quite good. You have to construct buildings that provide power, air, food and water, as well as build the mines and any defences you feel appropriate. Unfortunately, once you've set up on three or four of these asteroids you quickly realise that the pattern is the same for each one. No one asteroid has any real differences over another so once you've discovered the most effective way to set your resources up, it's the same throughout. What's more, the manual pretty much tells you the best combination anyway so you're left without any real kind of challenge.
What was needed here were asteroids with different environmental variables. Each rock would have unique challenges that meant you would have to really think about how you set up your colonies.
Asteroids - A Quick Guide
A lot people have trouble differentiating between meteorites and asteroids. They're all just lumps of rock hurtling through space, aren't they? Well, not quite. Here to help you tell one from the other is a handy guide.
A meteorite is specifically the name given to any lump of rock that has fallen into the Earth's atmosphere and actually made contact with the ground. If the rock fails to get that far (ie. it burns up on entry) it is simply called a meteor. Interestingly enough, in 1963 a meteor was tracked from the surface of Mars to the Earth's atmosphere, entering just over the Isle of Wight. As it passed through the sky and shot towards the ground it struck the head of an old man who had been returning from his local grocer's with his wife's shopping. The meteor (by now no larger than a small pea) embedded itself in the man's scalp, killing him, but failing to actually touch the Earth's surface. He was subsequently buried and since the rock was never removed it has still not been officially classified as a meteorite. The man went down on record as being the only human being ever killed by an attack from Mars.
An asteroid, conversely, was the phrase used by music-hall and radio comedians in the late 50s and 60s when doing sketches about astronauts with piles. To wit: Frank: Morning 'Arry. How's yer asteroids?
Download Fragile Allegiance
Systems: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game features:Single game mode