Conquest: Frontier Wars
Following a series of internal conflicts, mankind has discovered a wormhole leading to an unknown system, Tau Ceti. Arriving in the Tau Ceti system, the TNS Andromeda, under the command of Rear Admiral Tackwhether Hawkes, is caught between a small, fast, unidentified alien spacecraft and its pursuers. After the Andromeda is destroyed in a collision with a massive alien warship, you, as the anonymous Commander, are ordered by Admiral William Halsey to investigate. With the help of Captain Thomas Blackwell, you begin exploring uncharted wormholes in order to discover what happened to the Andromeda and to find and rescue Admiral Hawkes if he is still alive.
Conquest: Frontier Wars
Thus the race begins to get to Malkor's building site before he can launch this devastating weapon. After a series of furious battles, the combined Rebel/Terran/Celareon fleet manages to break through the Mantis defenses, destroying Malkor's superweapon and Malkor along with it. The cost, however, has been high. Earth herself has been attacked, thousands of Terran warships and several colonies have been destroyed, and mankind's casualties alone rack up in the billions. Ver'Lak still lives, along with two more Warlords Mordalla and Thripid. Celareons themselves have disappeared shortly after victory, erasing all trace of their existence from Terran computers and networks, but the Terrans still left alive haven't forgotten about the Celareon's existence.
This game provides examples of: All Your Base Are Belong to Us: One of the missions involves a desperate defense of the Solar System against the might of the Mantis armada.
Apocalypse How: Class 6 for Earth if you will not be able to defend the Solar System.
The Asteroid Thicket: They reduce the movement speed of your ships when flying through them.
Bag of Spilling: You know all those upgrades you spend a ton of resources on? They're gone by the next mission.
The Brigadier: The Terran admirals. Except Smirnoff, who betrays the Terran Federation to the Mantis..
The Cavalry: At the end of Mission 8 you are suddenly attacked by large Mantis force and Ker'Tak suggests immediate withdrawal with what admiral Benson agrees. Then, capitan Blackwell (who should be dead after being om-nomed by black hole) comes literally out of nowhere with Celareon reinforcements and turning the tide of battle. It turns out that he was saved by Celareons.
Cool Ship: The Celareon Monolith-class ships look like giant stingrays which rake enemies with two bright-blue beams.
Chewing the Scenery: Whilst by no means a large ham, Admiral Halsey has a scene chewing moment during one of the briefings where he declares that he wants, "every weapon, every outpost, every stinking insect carrier, from here to Hell reduced to molten SPACEBORNE SLAG!" Justified since he did just witnessed, the Mantis attack on Solar System and their attempt to destroy the Earth with the help of Smirnof, Terran turncoat and formerly one of his own commanders.
Civil Warcraft: Early in the campaign the Mantis queen's sister, Ker'Tak is leading a rebellion. Later, the rebels side with the Terrans.
The first mission where you fight alongside the Celareons is also the mission where you fight against them.
Cluster F-Bomb: Blackwell to Smirnoff when he shows up with the Mantis during the invasion of Earth. The fact that all the swear words are bleeped out makes Blackwell's rant arguably all the more amusing. Blackwell: Smirnoff, you -Bleeping- little -Bleeper-. I am gonna put my foot so far in your -Bleep- you'll will be able to taste the -Bleep- on my boot.
Contrived Coincidence: The intro shows a Terran survey ship arriving through a newly-discovered wormhole moments before they are caught between an escaping Mantis rebel ship and a large Mantis Imperial Fleet.
Crippling Overspecialization: None of the carrier ships (Terran or Mantis) have any other weapons. So if their fighters are destroyed, and the enemy gets close, the carrier is a sitting duck. This even includes Mantis most powerful ship, the Tiamat, which is also a carrier. This requires bringing in an escort ships. And the Mantis have only three ships with direct-fire capabilities.
Critical Existence Failure: As long as they have enough supplies to fire their weapons, it doesn't matter how many hitpoints a given ship or defence platform has untill they hit zero, at which point they explode...
Crystal Spires and Togas: Celareons ships and platforms designs.
Deflector Shields: The Terrans have the weakest shields, as this technology has only recently become available to them. To compensate, their ships have very thick armor. Ironically, the Terran Dreadnought can temporarily activate nigh-impenetrable shields as its special ability.
Defiant to the End: Malkor at first attempts to flee when he sees the Ion Cannon preparing to fire. When that fails, he throws one last spiteful insult before his death.Malkor: Yield will not I to kiss the ground before Ker'Tak's feet! Lay on-
Easy Logistics: Averted. This was the game's main shtick, with combat ships also having a "supply" bar in addition to the standard health bar. This bar would tick down whenever the ship fired its weapons or activated (with a few exceptions) its special abilities and it would be left unable to fire or use said specials when ran out of supplies. To get more supplies, the ship would have to be stationed near a headquarters, supply platforms, repair platforms or supply ships (a vulnerable and unarmed but highly neccessary type of ship that itself only carries a limited amount of supplies, though a far larger that any combat ship can have). The player also must have "supply lines" open into a new star systems in order to operate some platforms, either by building a headquarters in new system or by connecting it with an HQ form the other side of the wormhole via jump gate that leads back to the system with the already existing HQ (note that a string of jumpgated wormholes can connect an HQ to a system any number of wormholes away).
Energy Beings: Celareons, artificially evolved by an even more powerful species.
Everything Fades: Even though ships leave behind wreckage that can be salvaged for resources, this is still played straight as the wreckage itself is just a generic construct that looks nothing like the chunks of starship or space station that are seen flying away from the epicentre of explosion right before those chunks fade into nothingness... And the mineable wreckage itself eventually fades if it's not collected.
Fog of War: Makes game even more difficult as you have to keep an eye on multiple systems.
Gameplay and Story Integration: The enemy Mantis in single player will never use the Enemy Exchange Program against you, though you are expected to do so against them. While you presumably convert Mantis to your side by "convincing" them that Ker'Tak would be a better leader, the Terrans and Celareons know where their own loyalties lie, Smirnoff and Natus notwithstanding. There are also differences between the campaign and skirmish/multiplayer in terms of how Admirals/Warlords/Magistrates work. In the campaign, they have Ace Custom ships that look different from base models, have much more supplies and health points and even additional/better weapons . In skirmish/multiplayer, they fly around in small, unarmed ships that can dock with any of the player's ships and name it as their flagship.
Higher-Tech Species: The Celareons. This is even represented in gameplay with the Celareons being able to research more levels of upgrades than the other factions.
Horde of Alien Locusts: The Mantis.
Humans Are Special: Turning the tide of the mantis civil war and works to bringing peace to the galaxy. Mantis and Celareons alike learn to both respect and fear them.
Humans Are Warriors: Carved out a huge empire against established races the first time they left their home system. Ker'Tak: Eager to kill- Good trait!
Hyperspace Lanes: Wormhole system.
Informed Ability: At the end of the first mission, Admiral Halsey says, "...so you survived both a hostile alien attack, and your first encounter with Captain Blackwell. I'm not sure which is worse." This, even though Blackwell has not up to that point and never will act like much of an ass to the player during the campaign, Blackwell's personality 'is' a little rough around the edges, but its actually relatively mild. He does have one or two sarcastic lines at the beginning. While teaching you the UI, the first time he has you click on something, he observes, "Well, good, the Commander can work a mouse."
ISO Standard Human Spaceship : Not fully implemented but human ships are often very angular compared to their alien counterparts.
Laugh Track: When Admiral Halsey's flagship arrives on the scene during the campaign, Benson quipps, "I thought that thing was still in mothballs!", which is accompanied by some very forced sounding canned laughter in the background (presumably intended to be from her bridge crew).
Magikarp Power: The Celareons. Their ships start out as less cost-effective that the others, but they can research more levels of upgrades - in every area - than the other factions.
Multinational Team: Terran admirals are hailing from the USA, Great Britain, Japan and Russia.
No Campaign for the Wicked: The game makes it looks like there are campaigns for all three races. However, the campaigns for the Mantis and the Celareons consist of a single tutorial level each, pointing out the differences with playing as these two races. Some Terran campaign levels involve an Enemy Exchange Program, so you can play sometimes as Mantis or Celareons.
No Recycling: Partially averted. Destroyed ships leave behind wreckage that resource gatherer ships can harvest, but stations do not do this.
Nostalgia Level: The 11th and 12th missions see Blackwell and Hawkes racing back through the area of space covered by the first 8 missions of the game, complete with dilapidated Terran bases all the way. In fact, if you take note of the names of the systems most missions start in, it's possible to chart a map of the entire wormhole network of the campaign.
Our Wormholes Are Different: Wormholes are how the ships of Conquest get around, using the numerous wormholes present in the galaxy to jump between hundreds of different star-systems and then maneuvering through those systems on what appear to be sublight-only drives. The strangest thing about these wormholes (aside from the very large number of them) is that it is possible to build a device called a "jump gate" around the wormhole's event horizons, which locks down the wormhole and prevents hostile vessels from jumping through untill they have destroyed the gate (the gates also provide supply lines into the systems they are connected to, allowing some platforms to operate in sectors that don't have HQs as long as they are connected to systems that DO have them). Celareons are also able to create temporary artificial wormholes. In the storyline, this is why queen Ver'Lak of the Mantis is attacking them. Magistrate Natus makes a deal with the Mantis, who promise him peace in exchange for the technology. Everyone else thinks he's an idiot for falling for this.
Plot Hole: Neither of the ending cutscenes are consistent. In the bad ending, recycled footage from mission 13's Non Standard Game Over results in Smirnoff magically coming back from the dead just so Malkor can kill him again.
In the good ending, Malkor's last words before his death don't match what he said during the actual level.
Pluto Is Expendable: Subverted. Mission 13 takes place in the Solar System, but it's not Pluto that's absent, it's Uranus for some reason.
Point Defenseless: Each race has only a single ship (usually, the most basic warship) capable of shooting down Space Fighters.
The Quisling: Admiral Smirnoff.
Rebel Leader: Ker'Tak was supposed to be the Mantis queen, after the death of her mother. However, her slightly younger (as in, by a fraction of a second) sister Ver'Lak was determined not to let this accident of birth stop her from ascending to the throne, so she conspired to overthrow Ker'Tak and declared herself Queen. Ker'Tak leads the forces that have remained loyal to her, but they are considerably outnumbered by the might of the Empire. This seems to be the only reason Ker'Tak is even contemplating allying with the Terrans.
Recycled Soundtrack: The beginning of the first Terran theme is almost identical to the beginning of the Starship Troopers theme while part of the Mantis theme is lifted from Alien.
Rousing Speech: Admiral Hawkes delivers quite epic one just before the Mantis begin their attack on Earth. Hawkes: Let them come. Wave after wave, let them come. We'll fight with every ship we can muster. We'll fight if we have to crawl from our ships and chew through their hulls. This is Earth. Our home. We'll fight 'til from our bones our flesh be hacked.
Send in the Search Team: In the intro, a ship was lost shortly after going through a wormhole. After that, a small search team sent through the wormhole was also lost. Now, they're sending in you.
Space Is Noisy: There is no shortage of rockets wooshes, laser zapping sounds and big booms when ships go up.
Space Is an Ocean: Battleships (complete with cannon turrets intended for broadside-based attacks) and even aircraft carriers (complete with runways) IN SPACE!!
Stealth in Space: Some ships have (like the Terran Missile Cruiser or Infiltrator) the ability to cloack itself.
Stuff Blowing Up: Ships and orbital stations explode in impressive fashion when they run out of hitpoints.
Stop Poking Me!: The ships will do special dialog lines if you click them enough; the Terran construction unit (called a Fabricator) will respond with "I've got something you can fabricate."
Translator Microbes: A translator is used in some sections and ignored in others. More or less: The Mantis and Humans need it to talk to each other, it's buggy at best. The Celareons just learn your language in two seconds.
The Unfought: Malkor is the only Mantis Warlord you face in the campaign. Despite being set up as the Big Bad, Queen Ver'Lak is never fought nor even seen. Neither are Thripid and Mordalla.
Units Not to Scale: Some units are bigger than the planets they orbit.
Wave-Motion Gun: The Ion Cannon. It's the only thing that can destroy Malkor's super-mothership.
What Happened to the Mouse?: Elan completely drops out of the story and is supplanted by Vivac.
Ker'tak is left behind on Earth for the offensive on Mantis territory in the last three missions, and never shows up again.
There's no mention of what became of Ver'Lak (who, as aforementioned, is never seen at all during the story); after Malkor dies and the Celareons disappear the ending cutscene cuts back to the celebration on Earth, giving the impression the humans just left without bothering to deal with her (after all, the Celareons certainly did that).
You No Take Candle: The Mantis speak Yoda-Style due to bad translator.
Zerg Rush: The Mantis, big shock. Even their scouts carry fighter swarms.
They can be fairly easily countered by several Terran Corvettes, which is the cheapest ship they have, with their flak cannons.