Based on the MegaTraveller table-top science-fiction game, your task in The Zhodani Conspiracy is to prevent war breaking out between the Zhodani Consulate and the Imperium - Zhodani officials have bribed some of their Imperium counterparts to try and bring about a war between the two sides.
In this role-playing game character creation is the first task. Characters can be created and then put through a choice of five military careers to gain skills and experience semi-randomly (there are more than 70 talents and abilities), or you can simply compose your squad of five from the pre-defined roster.
In total there are 28 planets grouped within 8 solar systems, and there's not much space free of adventure and mystery. 30 different types of cargo exist for interplanetary trading and bartering. Combat takes place in real-time, you can control any one of your characters while giving orders to the others.
I offered to review this game because, along with the original A Bard's Tale, this game introduced me to the computer role-playing genre - a genre which I have been a fan of ever since. The game was created with the help of the people who created the original pen and paper role-playing game also called Megatraveller. That is why the background story to the universe the game is set in is very well developed.
The game comes with a pre created set of characters, but you can model your own as well. This is the part of the game that I loved the most as a boy! I advise newcomers to the game to use the pre-made characters until they know how the controls work and what skills are valuable in the game - then make your own.
Since the game was based on the rules of a board game, the controls can be pretty difficult to pick up at first; especially in the era of mouse controls and as little keyboard interaction as possible. For instance, many of parts of the interface that look like buttons don't do anything if you click on them with the mouse. You need to use the arrow and return keys instead. All commands on the top down view are given through an interface on the bottom right of the map screen and while you can use the mouse to click on these, they all have keyboard shortcuts which are much faster.
Combat is an important part of this game and there is a variety of weapons available. (Note Different planets have different law levels that restrict the type of weapons you can use on that planet so don't think you can max out with the best weapons and shoot your way through the game). The skills your characters have determine how fast and accurately they shoot their weapon. One irritating thing about the game is that, in order to retaliate, you have to 'break' your party up and give them all orders before they'll do anything - the AI for your own party isn't that good. Be aware that shooting is not always the best policy; you can always come back later when you're kitted out with better weaponry!
If one of your characters dies it is NOT the end of the game, all major star ports have a 'Recruit' option that allows you to replace lost characters with ones saved in your character pool (i.e. ones you have created but not used). This means that you can complete the game with a set of characters that is completely different from the one you started out with! Characters also develop during the course of the game. If they do something often enough they'll be able to 'Train' in that skill.
Graphically this game leaves something to be desired, but having said that the graphics do give the worlds an atmosphere and make them individual. The different weapons have their own traces on screen and so you can get an idea of what you are being shot with fairly easily (fear the PGMP!).
Sounds in the game are ok if you can use the PC speaker but this is acceptable since they are only used for gunfire and walking! The game certainly doesn't play any worse without them.
If you have a bit of patience with this game, you will be well rewarded, and any fans of the RPG genre which haven't played this are in for a treat.
All in all I enjoyed playing this game as much the second time round as I did the first, but the annoying little problems stop me from giving it a five. Therefore, I happily give this game a four and hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
· The most important key if you are being shot at is 'P'. It pauses the game and allows you to break your party if you need to fight.· The 'O' key lets you give orders to your party one by one when they are broken or change your leader when they aren't. When broken, the character currently selected is controlled by you when you un-pause the game again.· The 'C' key allows your leader to talk to anyone standing directly in front of you (Note it is your current leader who interacts with the world, so if someone is good at something make them your leader before you do it).· In order to fly your spaceship you need to have the maneuver program loaded and running in your ships computer - Oh, and someone in the pilot's seat!· Talk to EVERYONE. Most of the time they won't have anything to say but those that do can sometime get you plenty of money!· Explore the Allel system well when you've got ID tags...
Part of the MegaTraveller Series
If you are a huge roleplay game fan this might just be the right game for you. If not I suggest you take a look at some of our other games as this is quite a heavy game to start with due to the long proces of making your characters and starting up the game.
As I'm a huge rpg fan I don't mind this though and I always like when I can work a lot on my character. The game also feature a good story so I recommended this game if you are into this genre.
People who downloaded Megatraveller have also downloaded:
MegaTraveller 2: Quest for The Ancients, Menzoberranzan, Might and Magic III: Isles of Terra, Knights of Legend, Might and Magic 6: The Mandate of Heaven, Magic Candle, The, Might and Magic 2: Gates to Another World, Moonstone
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