Colony Wars Review – St1ka’s Retro Corner (PS1)

Colony Wars Review – St1ka’s Retro Corner (PS1)


Space simulation games are often associated with computer gaming a trend which began in part due to the success of games like the Wing Commander and Star Wars series but also because 16-bit consoles didn’t have the power to run 3D titles however, when the 32-bit generation rolled around there was a big push to bring this genre to consoles the PlayStation and 3DO got Wing Commander The Nintendo 64 received brand new Star Wars games and Sony, threw their own hat into the ring by having the newly acquired Psygnosis Studios develop Colony Wars Although this series was well received at the time it seems to have been mostly forgotten though there are still some diehard fans who fondly remember the games Colony Wars is a mission based space simulator you play as a nameless pilot in a Star Wars inspired rebel organization known as the League of Free Worlds The League’s objective, is to gain independence from the Earth empire known as the Earth Colonial Navy all of the game’s story is told us by what I can only describe as a Brittish James Earl Jones “When I was very young the Earth Empire controlled the skies” “The Czar and his battlefleet saw everything” “knew everything” “punished everything” Right off the bat, Colony Wars handles differently from the space sims that came before it Controls are easy, they’re quick and responsive the action is much more arcade-like as well you can crash into enemy fighters or capital ships and fly off with inconsequential damage. Despite the game being loaded with cutscenes there is no story to speak of. Rather, you hear the narrator explain how the war is progressing. What makes this interesting is the fact that depending on which missions you succeed or fail the tides will turn and lead you to different branching paths. There are a total of six different endings which can range from total defeat a truce between both sides or the unconditional surrender of the Colonial Navy which adds a lot of replay value to what is an otherwise short game. Before each mission, you’re given a long briefing with objectives and the current war status. Assignments will range from your garden variety such as escort, defend and bombing runs while others are more unique like a prison break level where you have to shoot down escape pods, there are many different ships you can play as but they are all pre-selected for you. Forcing the player to adapt to each craft’s strengths and weakenesses. This also means that sometimes you’ll be given a slow and heavy bomber when you really need a fast and nimble ship, or vice-versa The missions have a sense of scale, featuring several fighters and capital ships from both sides, fighting for control at any given time. Sadly, your allies are either useless, dumb as rocks, or both. If you get too close to an enemy ship chances are you’ll be the target of friendly fire from your allies. The problem here is that you need to be close to them because the aiming only tells you where your target currently is and not where he’s going. So because of that, I was taking friendly fire on almost every mission. League capital ships aren’t much better either, as they’re only half as resistant as their Navy counterparts, so you’ll often have to babysit them. Your weapons are also selected for you. Though the ones you’ll be using the most are the anti-shield laser followed by the regular laser. Homing missiles can also be used to target fighters, and torpedoes are suited against large capital ships. One issue I have with this game, is that in most missions, whenever you take out an enemy fighter a new one will immediately spawn in its place. Making escort missions harder than they should be. I got around this in two ways, by camping near their spawn point and shoot them as they come. Or the better method, By disabling their ships with EMP weapons and leave them there. If I don’t kill them, their replacements won’t spawn. In fact, EMP is easily the most OP weapon in the game. Fighters are disabled in just three hits and capital ships will be at your mercy in under one minute. Another problem I found, is that you can’t dodge attacks from capital ships. You have no way of knowing if they locked on to you, and when they do, there is no way to avoid being hit. When you take down a capital vessel or space station, it breaks into pieces and blows into a spectacle of colors. However, if you are too close to your target your ships will crash against every piece and lose control. Though you only take minimal damage from this. Speaking of the capital ships, someone at Psygnosis was big on Star Trek because all of the Colonial Navy’s large craft, are huge Starfleet rip-offs. The rest of the ship designs look fine though the same can’t be said for Colony Wars’ early 3D graphics. The later entries into the series would improve their visuals but the low resolution and Polygon count haven’t aged well at all. Texture warping is also an issue especially when zooming close to large craft with sometimes causes entire segments to become transparent. Colony Wars’ audio isn’t bad and its soundtrack does a good job at setting up the mood and its main theme is pretty memorable. Then of course, we have the voice acting where it seems every League pilot has the most exaggerated accent you can imagine. (ironic coming from me, I know.) “Okay, let’s get that comms craft.” “Remember, we need to keep this one alive,” “just use EMP weapons against it.” One of the criticisms I often hear with this series is its difficulty. But I thought the game was pretty accessible. Some missions were tougher than others but after one or two repeats it’s easy to learn what you should focus on and sucessfully complete it. The game comes on two discs mostly due to all the FMVs and this means that if you want to replay a mission from either half of the campaign or if you have your Playstation turned off with the second disc inside you’ll have to change them manually. But despite coming in two discs Colony Wars is a pretty short game. I managed to finish it with the best ending in under three hours and having to get up and change the disc every time I wanted to replay a different chapter was pretty annoying. Colony Wars is definitely showing its age The mission variety is fine and the missions feel pretty epic. But the gameplay is pretty basic made even worse by the poor AI and early 3D graphics. Having to change discs often is also an issue, especially for a game this short. With that said, the gameplay despite basic, is still entertaining and the branching paths encourage replay value. It may not be the classic it once was but you could do a lot worse.

13 thoughts on “Colony Wars Review – St1ka’s Retro Corner (PS1)

  1. DOS gaming rule(d) 😉 I love space combat! 🙂 Tie Fighter and X-Wing vs Tie Fighter are my favorites of all time 😉
    Thanks for this! Never owned Colony Wars.. 🙁 Back then only had the chance to play it over at a friend's house..
    Cheers!

  2. A game that is more or less overshadowed by another Psygnosis game, G police.

    However, I keep an excellent memory and it is for me a reference in the fight space genre, the story was excellent (although I prefer the one of the 2, the 2nd beat the first episode in every point) the gameplay was accessible but not without some subtlety.

    A real pleasure with the PlayStation Analog Joystick (for more immersion).

    Excellent video in any case.

  3. The graphics and gameplay of Colony Wars was far ahead of its time, even now it's still excellent and I loved the fact that you could zoom backwards as fast as going forwards. It was a lot like wing commander which I also enjoyed but Colony Wars had much better space flight combat.

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