Colony Wars is a space simulator video game for the Sony PlayStation developed and released by Psygnosis in 1997. The player takes the role of an unnamed starfighter pilot in the League of Free Worlds, fighting for independence against the despotic Earth Empire and its Colonial Navy.
The game itself follows a non-linear storyline, where the outcome of the game is dictated by whether the player wins or loses the various key battles, typically at the end of each Act. A player can lose battles within an Act, but still "Win" the Act by completing subsequent missions. There are also five endings to the game; three of these being "Bad" endings, and two being "Good" endings.
The game opens with the player character- an unnamed starfighter pilot- serving with a large, well-established, anti-imperial colonial resistance force called the League of Free Worlds in defence of the colonies of the Gallonigher System. Following the Battle of Bennay, the Earth Empire, a large, oppressive and ruthless governing body which maintains strict and absolute control over the various colonial systems, has dedicated itself to crushing the League insurgency. The opening missions involve the League's efforts to secure the League homeworld of Gallonigher, culminating in the invasion of the Sol System and, finally, the Empire's homeworld; Earth.
Multiple paths and outcomes are available throughout the game, depending on the player's performance. Completing or failing missions does not always define the ultimate success or failure of the campaign, and certain missions are vital turning points which can dramatically affect the game's plot. If the player succeeds in Gallonigher, they will proceed to the Draco System, then (ideally) to the Sol System. If the player is defeated in Gallonigher, the League will survive, but is forced to retreat to the Diomedes System, from which it draws the majority of the fleet's supplies, before launching an attack on the Alpha Centauri System. It is also possible to be sent to Alpha Centauri by performing poorly during the Draco System campaign.
Depending on how well the player performs, the game can end in one of five ways:
There is also a "Secret" ending to the game, which is identical to Ending 5 (the defeat of the Earth Empire in Sol). However, it ends with a large, mysterious vessel casting an ominous shadow across the surface of Earth - suggesting the arrival of an alien race.
Colony Wars focuses primarily on five star systems within the Earth Empire; Gallonigher, Diomedes, Draco, Alpha Centauri and Sol. Aside from Alpha Centauri and Sol, these are fictional star systems. Other systems, such as Halaus, are mentioned but never visited in game. Gallonigher: Gallonigher is home to the League of Free Worlds, and is largely untouched by the Earth Empire. Significant planets include Bennay, where the League won a "famous victory" over the Navy, and Acheron, which is covered in phosphorus lakes that glow neon green. The system's star is named Evanstar. The first two acts of the game are set in Gallonigher. Diomedes: Diomedes is described as a lush and beautiful star system, home to several agricultural planets. Diomedes is loyal to the League, and provides it with many of its resources. Amongst its natural wonders are the rings of Iris. Diomedes is reached if the player "loses" the second act. Draco: The heart of the Earth Empire's industrial infrastructure, Draco is home to countless manufacturing plants, shipyards, fuelling stations and ammunition storage facilities. Like many systems colonised by the Earth Empire, Draco has been subject to extensive mining operations, and is now almost depleted of raw materials. Draco is highly unusual as it has two Suns, Helios and Hecate. These suns can supposedly alter the moods of people serving on ships nearby. Draco is reached upon successful completion of the second Act. Alpha Centauri: Alpha Centauri is subject to a long and violent civil war between League Supporters and Navy Loyalists, similar to that seen in the Halaus system. Alpha Centuri was the first star system colonised by mankind, and has been leeched of all raw materials in the subsequent centuries. Alpha Centauri is also home to the Faction, who act as the main antagonists for missions centred in this star system. The Faction consist of Ex-Leaguers who have either sided with the Navy, or believe that the Father is no longer able to command the League. Players reach Alpha Centauri by either completing the Diomedes Acts, or by failing to complete the Draco Acts. If victorious in Alpha Centauri, the player achieves the first "Good Ending" to the game. Sol: The Sol system is the home of the Earth Empire and the origin of Humans. It was ruthlessly stripped of all raw materials prior to and during mankind's expansion into other star systems. Earth itself has become desolate, and unable to sustain itself without the aid of other worlds. As the home system of the Earth Empire, the Tzar maintains a large and imposing military force within Sol. There are countless hidden shipyards and research facilities, including at least one artificial moon built around Titan. Sol is reached by successful completion of the Draco system. According to the Colony Wars website Sol is located at grid A1, probably indicating its importance. Halaus and Cronus: Although never mentioned in game, these systems were apparently colonised prior to or during the events Colony Wars. Halaus was the site of a violent civil war, Cronus was still newly colonised, and used for military training (although which side held Cronus is not stated). The Cronus System appears in Colony Wars: Vengeance, the sequel to Colony Wars. No mention is given to the other human political factions, or any extraterrestrial powers, suggesting they either did not exist, were not discovered, or remained neutral in the uprising.
Each ship in game is armed with a specific payload of weapons, including lasers, missiles and torpedoes. Whilst the game's internal Database gives information on the weapons used by the Navy, the computer-controlled opponents do not use any weapons except Anti-Shield Lasers and Anti-Hull Lasers. Curiously, the Thunderchild uses these weapons despite not having any such armaments equipped, even when used by the player in the "Funeral Raid" mission.
The starfighters used by the player are fixed for each mission, supposedly chosen by the League High Command based on their efficiency for the given mission. The vessels available to the player are listed below. Note that "Laser" refers to both Anti-Shield and Anti-Hull Lasers; ships always have both, and always the same number of each weapon (a Hydra has three Anti-Shield and three Anti-Hull lasers). Vampire: A small scout fighter, the Vampire is primarily used as a rapid-response craft. It is armed with a single Laser, and Stun Missiles, and is sometimes given "Mole" Missiles; an unlimited-ammunition missile weapon that is used to reprogram ships. The Vampire is very weak, lacking the armor or fire power to take on stronger opponents. Dark Angel: Described as "Outdated" by the League Database, the Dark Angel appears in many missions, serving as an Interceptor for the League. It has Twin Lasers, and small missile payload. Chimera: The Chimera is the bomber of the League. It is armed with Twin Lasers, and carries several high-power Torpedoes; Starburst, Plasma and Anti-Shield. The Chimera also has a single Anti-Hull Laser which can be fired in the rear view to damage chasing enemies. Hydra: The Hydra is a highly versatile fighter, equipped with a wide array of weapons. It has Triple Lasers, an EMP Gun for disabling ships, and a Scatter Laser. Several missions involving the Hydra revolve around disabling an enemy vessel or station with the EMP gun, and allowing a League APC to capture it. Because of its large offensive payload, the Hydra is one of the most powerful ships available to the player. Demon: A "Heavy Support" Fighter, the Demon is the only ship (save the Thunderchild) equipped with Plasma Cannons, as well as its EMP and Scatter Laser. The Demon also carries several powerful missiles and torpedoes, making it ideal for engaging and destroying large, powerful opponents. The Demon is usually piloted in missions where extreme firepower is required. Eclipse: A relatively new craft, the Eclipse only becomes available during the Sol campaign, and only in the later missions. It has a Twin Laser, an EMP and a Scatter Laser. However, its greatest strength is its "Sensor Scrambler". This device is always active, and makes it harder for enemies to target the Eclipse. The vessel itself is referred to as a "Stealth" Fighter in the League Database. Thunderchild: A fighter of the Colonial Navy, the Thunderchild is flown in just one mission; the "Funeral Raid". It is very similar to the Demon, despite the fact that enemy Thunderchild craft never use the weapons available to the player.
The weaponry in Colony Wars are split into two types, Primary Weapons (such as Lasers) and Secondary Weapons (Missiles). Primary Weapons have unlimited ammunition, but overheat if used for too long, and must be allowed to recharge. Secondary Weapons have an ammunition limit.
Many weapons are split into one of two types; Anti Shield (which can only harm shields) and Anti Hull (which do very little damage to shields). The Player must learn to switch between these two weapon types efficiently in order to defeat enemies, although more powerful weapons work equally well against both types. Lasers: Lasers come in Anti-Shield and Anti-Hull forms. They are used on almost all craft. Some Fighters also have "Scatter Lasers", which fire a single, rapid stream of shots that damage hull and shields equally. Related to the Lasers is the EMP gun (which does no damage, but can disable enemies, stopping them from firing back), and the Plasma Cannon. The Plasma Cannon fires slow-moving shots, but these do a lot of damage to both shields and hull. Missiles: Missiles come in both Anti-Shield and Anti-Hull forms, although a few can harm both. Missiles must lock on to a target to be used accurately, although they can be fired without a lock-on. This is usually done when attacking ships, which are large enough to be hit easily. Torpedoes: Torpedoes are more powerful than Missiles, but cannot be locked on. Because of this, they are very hard to use against enemy Fighters, and are best saved for ships. Torpedoes must be armed before firing, which takes a few seconds. Most Torpedoes are either Anti-Shield or Anti-Hull, although some can harm both.
Enemies in Colony Wars typically only use three types of weapons; standard Lasers (Single or Twin), an unidentified Missile that removes approximately 1/4 of the player's shield or hull, and a "Beam Laser", used by Capital Ships. The Beam Laser is only used if the player remains stationary for too long, making it easy to avoid.
Often the player may be called upon to destroy a Colonial Navy ship. League of Free Worlds ships are generally weaker than their Colonial counterparts, as well having no counterpart for Titan, Super Titan, and Carrier.
|Faction & Ship type||Length||Shield Units||Hull Units||Sensor||Speed||Grids||Bays|
|Colonial Frigate||555.23 meters||600||600||400||125 SLU||2||1|
|League Frigate||555.23 meters||300||300||100||125 SLU||2||1|
|Colonial Cruiser||1242.87 meters||700||700||500||125 SLU||3||1|
|League Cruiser||1242.87 meters||350||350||150||125 SLU||3||1|
|Colonial Destroyer||1440.56 meters||800||800||400||100 SLU||4||2|
|League Destroyer||1440.56 meters||400||400||200||100 SLU||4||2|
|Colonial Dreadnought||1989.17 meters||900||900||700||100 SLU||5||3|
|League Dreadnought||1989.17 meters||500||500||250||100 SLU||5||2|
|Colonial Strike Cannon||343.29 meters||100||100||50||100 SLU||2||-|
|League Strike Cannon||343.29 meters||100||100||50||125 SLU||2||-|
|Colonial Command Craft||1133.15 meters||600||600||500||150 SLU||2||-|
|League Command Craft||946.96 meters||400||400||200||100 SLU||2||-|
|Colonial Titan||1972.61 meters||1000||1000||800||100 SLU||6||3|
|Colonial Super Titan||4371.56 meters||1000||1000||700||1000 SLU||10||5|
Colony Wars gives the player a ranking dependent upon their progression through the game, which is visible in the "Pilot Statistics" menu. The rank insignia consists of a single column of vertically stacked parallel bars for lower ranks and dual columns of vertically stacked parallel bars for higher ranks. Rank increases as follows: