Colony Wars 2492 is a game which has fallen into oblivion over the years. Some gamers will still remember that there used to be a game in which you had to build robots from three components, but most of them will not even remember the name or they confuse it with Akte Europa.
When the game was released in 1996, the publisher "Black Legend Interactive Entertainment" didn't shy away from putting a 135 page novel into the box which explained the game's background to the player. It didn't help. The target audience rather bought new releases like Diablo, Z or Command & Conquer: Red Alert which were released at the same time and strictly speaking were actually better than Colony Wars 2492. The game flopped and Black Legend was bought by Eidos Interactive. Under this new banner, the Black Legend developed Akte Europa, the sequel to Colony Wars 2492.
Basically, the game is about the recapture of the planet Ansgar-15 whose colonies have been taken over by crazy robots. The Angarium ore found on this planet is crucial for humanity's further development.
The game does without the construction of a base. Depending on whether there are factories or mines on the respective map, resource trains can transport the ore from a mine building to a component factory. If there are no mines, for example, there is no ore to transport. The player then has to do with the given buildings. In component factories, the ore is processed. What is actually produced depends on the type of factory. Weapon factories produce only weapons, chassis factories only chasses. The products of the component factories can be transported to the player's headquarters with transporters. There, the components can be assembled into new robots. With these robots, you can fight enemy robots, conquer more factories etc.
Designing the robots has got a certain strategic appeal. Depending on the used components, the resulting robot will have very different properties. In the area of special components, there are minelayers, for example. This component allows the player to lay ten mines. Any robot driving over it will be destroyed unless it is equipped with mine-clearing equipment or it uses a spider chassis. To build a mine-laying robot, you need at least a chassis. Tyres are very cheap. A tyred mine-layer would be slow, it could lay mine, but it would blow up itself if it went over the wrong spot on the way back. A spider would allow the robot to tip-toe over the mines confortably and without danger. It could lure enemy robots, escape above the mines and therefore lure the enemies into the mine field. On the other hand, a hovercraft would make it very, very fast. It could jump towards enemy robots, drop a mine and then run away. Is this better? That's up to the player to decide.
As far as weapons are concerned, there is less choice. Although you can equip your robots with cannons or heavy cannons, a rocket launcher will destroy every enemy robot with just three salvoes and it is also cheaper than two robots with heavy cannons. The rocket launcher also has got the longer range, so there is no real alternative to the über-weapon "rocket launcher". Nevertheless, there are many strategic options just by combining chassis, weapon and special modules in order to construct a robot optimised for a specific purpose.
Although the game mechanics are quite interesting basically, the game fails spectacularly at its difficulty level and the design of its levels. Already in the second level, the player will need various attempts to find a workable solution. In this level, you are supposed to intercept a secret transporter. The mission briefing explains that you may only attack after the transporter has started moving. If you now let a robot do reconnaissance and pass a group of six pumps located east of the city, you will trigger an even which will make you lose the level some time later. Just like that – great. You haven't even seen any enemy robot by then. Once you have figured out what the designers expect from the player after a few tries, you will notice that the transporter cannot even be taken over as stated in the mission briefing. You can only conquer both HQs and therefore deprive the transporter of its chance to take shelter there.
In my test games, it took me almost 15 tries to finally understand what was even expected of me and how I could reach the level's goal. In the following levels, you will notice that the computer controlled enemies have a rather poor AI. The computer player will amost always clog the entrance to its HQ with robots. This means that no new components can be delivered and newly constructed units cannot leave the HQ anymore. This will make the enemy's economy collapse so that it has to solely depend on the units it already has. To balance these weaknesses out, the computer players will usually start the levels with significantly more robots.
A couple of levels further down the road, things get really nasty. This is where the level designers simply start a level off with a superior force of enemy robots storming your HQ, which will defeat your defenses quite quickly and conquer your HQ. Game Over. Although you can of course retry every level as often as you like – but at some point, it will get really annoying to lose the very same level again and again. If you cannot progress in the game, all you can do is restore an old saved game and replay an old level. This is where the game loses its appeal and it becomes boring. There is no level editor and you also cannot jump to a level directly (like for example in Battle Isle), not even to skip a level which is too hard.
I'm not aware of any cheats. Even hints are not found anymore on the net, which, by the way, is also an important indicator for lasting success or failure of a game.
Will you like Colony Wars 2492? Try it out…
Translated by Mr Creosote