Instead of being a nameless emperor out for power, Fragile Allegiance lets you be a nameless corporate drone out for profits. A major intergalactic mining corporation, Tetracorp, has opened a new sector for colonization, contracting you to do the ground work.
These sectors are filled with mineral-rich asteroids that are up for grabs, and your goal is to establish a self-sustaining colony, build a mining operation, explore and expand to nearby asteroids, and defend your holdings. Gameplay begins with the development of a single asteroid to support colony life. You start by building living quarters, providing food and water, and creating health care and entertainment to lure new colonists. Then you sink a few mines, build some facilities for ship building and landing, and youâ€™re on your way. The bottom line is to make more money.
Thereâ€™s fairly strong commodity trading in Fragile Allegiance. Traders will visit from time to time, and you can also buy and sell from alien ambassadors. Interplay has wisely included a â€œpast price historyâ€ chart for each commodity, so you know if youâ€™re getting a good deal or not. Diplomacy is also a nice feature, in that you set up a non-aggression pact for a set number of days, and if you break it, youâ€™ll be fined. It will often take several rounds of going back and forth with an alien ambassador â€“ changing the handful of diplomatic variables available â€“ before you come to mutually agreeable terms.
Rather than a technology tree, you can buy blueprints for new weapons and equipment from Sci-Tech, the â€œsister corporationâ€ of TetraCorp. While this fits in well with the fiction, it somehow isnâ€™t as satisfying as figuring out things for yourself, since thereâ€™s no sense of discovery (all the blueprints are on display from the start of the game â€“ itâ€™s just a matter of getting the cash to pay for them.) Combat (which, for the sake of your fiscal bottom line, is best avoided) is of the â€œfire and forgetâ€ variety. You issue a fleet orders to attack or retreat, but have no direct control of the individual ships.
Multiplayer is included, but the idea of getting together with someone to play as time consuming a game as this (like in Heroes, it can take days to finish a single match) is ludicrous. Set goals would help to focus the game and make it manageable for multiplayer. In short, Fragile Allegiance has an excellent game buried in it if you care to spend time exploring its complex economic intricacies.
System Requirements: 486/66 Mhz, 8 MB RAM, 36 MB HDD, Win95