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Star Trek Legacy Review 242

Posted by Zonk
from the all-hands-brace-for-impact dept.
Since late last month, I've been playing with the Xbox 360 title Star Trek Legacy. The fact that it is not a great game should be no surprise. Despite some entertaining plot elements, the title's gameplay leaves a lot to be desired. What is confusing, and troubling, is that this is just the latest in a long line of disappointing Trek games. Looking back on the history of Star Trek gaming, games like Elite Force or A Final Unity stand out from a disturbingly large field of titles that over-promise and under-deliver on the well-loved Trek universe. Why is it so hard to make a good Trek game? Why do developers keep trying and failing? Why is there a Vulcan leading the Borg? Read on for consideration of each of these questions, and a review of Star Trek Legacy to boot.
  • Title: Star Trek Legacy
  • Publisher: Mad Doc Software
  • Developer: Bethesda Softworks
  • System: 360 (PC)
Like a lot of the titles that have explored the final frontier, this latest offering from Mad Doc offers the promise of an amazing adventure in the Star Trek universe. What it delivers is a muddled experience that will only truly satisfy a Trekkie desperate for a taste of the final frontier. For the rest of us, it's a merely adequate title that offers moments of entertainment broken up by long periods of dullness or frustration. Kind of, I imagine, what actually serving on a starship is like.

As so often happens with a Trek title the premise, at least, is compelling. Commanding a task force of up to four ships, you follow a fairly coherent plot from the "Enterprise" era all the way through to the time of Jean-Luc Picard and Benjamin Sisko. You can choose between a number of ship classes to include in your fleet, and gameplay consists of real-time ship-to-ship battles. The actors who portrayed the captains in the various eras make a return, offering their vocal talents and a feel of authenticity to the proceedings.

What sounds like a can't-miss formula, though, inevitably flies past the target at full impulse. Ship and fleet control is the most notable failure, and results in individual combat moments requiring more effort than feels right. I found fleet combat most frustrating, as it is so variable how your actions are interpreted. When you begin a mission, all four of your ships are taking orders from you at the same time. Selecting a enemy for combat (by hitting the right shoulder button and cycling through the available options) is intuitive and quick. When all four ships are following your orders, this results in a focused barrage that effectively neutralizes targets. The problem comes when ships begin 'thinking' on their own.

It was never clear to me what prompted this, though I know that giving individual ships orders via the overhead tactical display (available via the 'select' button) always 'broke up' the fleet's command. This is problematic, as the 2D overhead display is the best way to keep track of the action on the sometimes dauntingly large 3D space maps Legacy uses. Indeed, the z-axis is used in the game (unlike in the show), making it hard to keep track of enemy ships on occasion. These are challenges, though, to be overcome: the frustration sets in when order-less ships choose to sit dead in space and absorb phaser hits without retaliating. That's some extremely poor decision-making on the part of the AI, and can mean the difference between success and failure in a large and frantic naval battle.

Another, subtle frustration is the pathing your friendly ships use when circling a target. While sometimes ships do 'the right thing' and orbit their prey at an appropriate range, trying to keep weapons locked on the target at all times, that's not always a given. Often, ships locked onto a target attempt something I can best refer to as a 'strafing run', where they move directly at a target, allowing firing on the enemy for a brief period of time, before overshooting and swinging around for another pass. Overshot on targets can sometimes be quite some distance, resulting in a long delay between assaults on enemy ships. This style of attack is particularly frustrating when attacking immobile targets like space stations and asteroids, as AI-controlled ships tend to fly right into their prey and sort of bounce off. Given the finicky targeting you're allowed to use, this greatly reduces an AI-controlled ship's effectiveness against such a target. In a pitched battle, which is almost all of them, it just becomes frustrating to have to keep so many balls in the air.

That's a shame, too, because combat is actually a lot of fun when things are moving in the right direction. It's extremely easy to jump from ship to ship within your fleet, simply by pressing one of the four directions on the D-pad. This can (generally) allow you to keep all four of your ships active and flying straight. Weapon use is as simple as right trigger for phasers, left for photons. The game does a good job of informing you when weapons can be used, both via visual HUD elements and vocal alerts. Legacy also does a great job of switching up who you're fighting, and what exactly you're doing in combat. Sending away teams onto a space station in the middle of a pitched battle, for example, or using a sensor scan to detonate an explosive keeps you on your toes and stops things from getting overly monotonous.

The plot that strings these combat elements together is all the Trek you can stand, and more, crammed into a disappointingly short timespan. There is time travel, Klingons, Romulans, Borg, and one very weird Vulcan. The plot itself is explained in detail in a comic included as an 'extra' on the game's main menu. To give you a horrible taste, it mentions V'ger, from the first Star Trek movie, in connection with the Borg's origin. Looking back on the whole story from the last mission gives you an 'ohhh' moment, but it's not that great a payoff for the amount of time you spend in the dark. Just the same, overall the story is coherently told and entertainingly written. The dialogue written for the captains is especially entertaining; even the stuff written for Shatner (who, predictably, gets the most 'screen time') is enjoyable in a scenery-chewing kind of way. Getting to hear Avery Brooks intone new lines as Benjamin Sisko was especially enjoyable, and the role DS9 gets to play near the game's end allowed me to forgive a lot of smaller oversights.

Visually, Legacy is a competent 360 title. It's certainly not Gears-pretty, but the ships are all well modeled, and it's hard to make space look ugly nowadays. Ships and stations explode nicely, though larger objects tend to look a little odd when breaking apart. Audio effects use official FX from the show, and the score consists of forgettable Trekesque tracks that back the game's sometimes-tense moments adequately.

Star Trek: Legacy, then, allows the dedicated Trek fan to experience ship-to-ship combat in a way that's never quite been captured so well before. Trekkies are sure to appreciate that new experience, as well as the vocal work of the actors-turned-captains. As a game, though, Legacy leaves a lot to be desired. Gamers are going to find the inexact fleet control and inept AI frustrating, with some missions being bang-your-head-against-the-desk annoying. The first Next Generation-era mission, Revelations, is particularly hair-pulling, and makes the lack of in-level save points sorely missed. If the lack of a new Trek show on TV is leaving you anxious, I would readily recommend Legacy as a balm to your Trekkish needs. Likewise, the game might be worth a rental of you're a 360 gamer who has already tired of Gears of War. It's just not that great a game otherwise, and can readily be given a miss for other, better games.

This leaves us with the question I posed above, though: Why is it so hard to make a good Star Trek game? It could be the difficulty of making licensed games satisfying to players outside of the 'fan' population ... but Star Wars titles like Knights of the Old Republic and Jedi Academy transcend fandom as truly great gaming experiences. Heck, even Spider-Man 2 is a better game than any Trek game I've played, and Spidey's history with gaming is a lot shorter than Star Trek's. Given the dialogue and narration-heavy storytelling that Star Trek uses, it is possible that the Trek universe just isn't a good fit for videogames? What does the lackluster performance of these latest Bethesda titles mean for future trek games? Star Trek Online, specifically, seems to have a Herculean task before it. How do you bring a license that's never seemed to be quite right for gaming to one of the most finicky of all genres, the MMOG?

What do you think? What would it take to make a great Trek game? Are there any Trek games that you think have really succeeded? What will Star Trek Online need to include in order to satisfy you?
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Star Trek Legacy Review

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  • Kirk (Score:5, Funny)

    by aedan (196243) on Monday January 08, 2007 @04:17PM (#17513018) Homepage
    You need Kirk in a fist fight with a torn shirt and some scantily clad lady aliens. It's that simple, defy authority, destroy property and take people's clothes off.
    • by Travoltus (110240)
      And a potential love affair with Spock. ...

      I apologize for this post. :)
      • And a potential love affair with Spock. ...

        That requires the 'Hot Tranya [wikipedia.org]' mod.

      • Spokish (Score:3, Funny)

        by fm6 (162816)

        What's to apologize for? When TOS series was still on the air, everybody (audience, writers, critics) agreed that Spock/Nimoy was the #1 babe magnet for the show. Women found the whole supercool hyperlogical scientist schtik thoroughly sexy. And when they started do scripts where he had to battle his inner illogical human, it just got more intense.

        Or maybe you're apologizing for the image of Kirk with the torn shirt. Well, most video games with benefit from a little honest homoeroticism...

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          Spock: Captain, detecting HoYay at a distance of 4.3 parsecs, rapidly closing. Kirk: Scotty, give me more thrust! Scott: I'm giving ye all the thrust I've got, Cap'n. If I give you any more, we'll blow!
          • by fm6 (162816)
            Finally, an explanation for the fact that the Enterpise isn't shaped like traditional spaceships!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by kfg (145172)
      Kirk in a fist fight with a torn shirt

      Twenty bucks says the torn shirt takes him.

      KFG
    • <yell>
      kiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiirrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr rrrrrrrrrrrrrkk!
      </yell>

      ( lower case to avoid yelling :P )
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Leave Kirk out of the fight. Let his toupee do the fighting: it's got less paunch and stands up a lot straigher.
  • Are there any Trek games that you think have really succeeded?

    There's only one I can think of: Star Trek [klov.com]... Courtesy Sega.

    • The only real success I can think of in the Star Trek gaming world would be the Starfleet Command series. It's only slightly less complex than flying a 747, but it's as close to operating a real starship in combat as anyone will ever get.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by dougmc (70836)

        The only real success I can think of in the Star Trek gaming world would be the Starfleet Command series. It's only slightly less complex than flying a 747, but it's as close to operating a real starship in combat as anyone will ever get.

        Agreed -- they were pretty good. The third one toned down the complexity quite a bit (alas, this was not a good thing.)

        As for `as close to operating a real starship in combat', well, a starship in the Star Trek universe, maybe. Beyond that, we shall see.

        The Elite Forces games were pretty run-of-the-mill FPS games -- not bad, but not great.

        Actually, I sort of liked Star Trek Armada -- it was your basic RTS -- in space -- but it was fun.

        Bridge Commander was sort of fun. Not great, but not

        • by lrichardson (220639) on Monday January 08, 2007 @10:45PM (#17518106) Homepage
          Starfleet Command was a reasonable game - it was, however, based on Star Fleet Battles (SFB), a tactical board game.

          Possibly the closest attempt at 'operating a real starship in combat' - while still remaining playable - is Attack Vector. Designed by one of the guys who was heavily involved in SFB (even worked for them for a while). Although, it too is a board game :(

          Based on Newtonian movement and real physics. Even got a favourable review from the editor of SciAm.

          Plays pretty fast, though not on the level of SFC :)

    • What, no Netrek? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@@@yahoo...com> on Monday January 08, 2007 @04:41PM (#17513456) Journal
      If by success you mean longevity, Netrek [wikipedia.org] has been around since the early 70s.
      • by drinkypoo (153816)
        Well, by success I'd mean they are great - and a lot of people would argue that nettrek qualifies, but I found it to be somewhat impenetrable. Then again, elite has the same problem, but in spite of that I've become an Oolite junkie.
    • by ccandreva (409807)
      I'll second that. If you've never played it, download MAME and grab the ROMS .

      Or if you are nuts, buy your own machine [westnet.com]. (No, it is NOT for sale.)

    • by JayBlalock (635935)
      Star Trek: 25th Anniversary and Star Trek: Judgement Rites are, for my money, the best Trek games ever made. And quite possibly the only good ones. Outside of having all the original crew voicing the CD-ROM, the games were well-designed and brilliantly written to fit in with the TOS mythos. They were *clearly* designed by fans doing everything they could to be true to the show. Yes, the ship-to-ship combat was a little clunky, but all they had to work with was Wing Commander 1-era technology.
    • Re:Succeeded? (Score:4, Informative)

      by mrchaotica (681592) * on Monday January 08, 2007 @11:04PM (#17518254)

      Maybe I'm weird, but I thought Birth of the Federation [wikipedia.org] was a reasonably good turn-based strategy game.

  • by wiredog (43288) on Monday January 08, 2007 @04:20PM (#17513082) Journal
    Same reason it's hard make a good game, period. Game creation is difficult. It has to have a good plot, a fair amount of flexibility in the plot, good graphics, good AI, and be fun to play. This all requires a large amount of creativity.

    It also has to be delivered on-time and on-budget.

    • by cliffski (65094) on Monday January 08, 2007 @04:29PM (#17513218) Homepage
      it helps if you don't blow half the budget on licensing voice actors though. I don't give a damn if modern games have no vocals whatsoever. If I wanted to hear Patrick stewarts voice I'd put a DVD on. I want to 'interact' and have 'fun' in a 'game'. More effort is required on the game, and less on ticking the marketing boxes like "all 5 star trek captains voices". I found the game dull and uninspired long before getting to hear more than 1 of the celebrity voices.
      • Don't forget about the money blown on just licensing the "Star Trek" name either!
      • by westlake (615356)
        I don't give a damn if modern games have no vocals whatsoever.

        I beg to differ. I think that strong vocal performances and talent are no longer dispensable if you want the "total experience" of the best "modern" RPGs, adventures, strategy games, and first-person shooters, genres which are becoming difficult to distinguish.

    • by misleb (129952) on Monday January 08, 2007 @04:55PM (#17513688)
      I imagine it is a lot like making a good movie.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        So you're saying we should play Star Trek games, but only the even-numbered ones?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Hatta (162192)
      Same reason it's hard make a good game, period. Game creation is difficult. It has to have a good plot, a fair amount of flexibility in the plot, good graphics, good AI, and be fun to play. This all requires a large amount of creativity.

      Wow, keen insight there...

      I think the OP was trying to get at why it seems to be harder to make good Trek games than say, good Star Wars games. They're both games, so by your logic they should be equally different to make. But there are quite a few good Star Wars games, bu
  • by popo (107611) on Monday January 08, 2007 @04:21PM (#17513086) Homepage
    Because Trek is ultimately about dialogue and not action.
    Tension is created through plot devices and not physical violence.

    And because Trek is about large (non-nimble) vessels.

    Add fast action and its no longer "Trek".
    Keep it "Trek" and it's just not that fun as a video game.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Shakrai (717556)

      Because Trek is ultimately about dialogue and not action.

      You haven't been watching Trek since TNG have you?

      • by popo (107611) on Monday January 08, 2007 @04:36PM (#17513352) Homepage
        You haven't been watching Trek since TNG have you?

        Them's fightin words, son.
        • by Shakrai (717556)
          Eh,

          I don't see how "dialog" exists in the Voyager or Enterprise world. DS9 had dialog but it also had a much heavier emphasis on action then TNG so it's a wash at best.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by pla (258480)
        You haven't been watching Trek since TNG have you?

        Since none exists after TNG, I'd say you have that correct. ;-)

        Actually, in fairness, DS9 lasted another five years after TNG, but started a year before TNG ended, so gets a pass.



        But you make a good good point, if accidentally - Voyager and Enterprise both threw away everything that made the franchise great, and they managed to all but ruin Star Trek for a generation. Analogously, most games try to make Trek into something more like the style of Voy
        • by Shakrai (717556)

          Actually, in fairness, DS9 lasted another five years after TNG, but started a year before TNG ended, so gets a pass.

          I'm torn on DS9. It feels like Bab5 meets Star Trek. Obviously it has Star Trek themes (DS9 did some pretty cool stuff with the Klingons -- a nice build-out from the groundwork laid by TNG) and undertones but the overall story has quite a few similarities and one has to wonder how many of those you can write off to "coincidence".

          Mark my words, when a new Star Trek series eventually come

          • by CaptnMArk (9003)
            DS9 was great with the Klingon story arc...

            But everything related to Dominion IMO sucked.
            • by Shakrai (717556)

              But everything related to Dominion IMO sucked.

              Including quite possibly the biggest anti-climatic letdown of a story [memory-alpha.org] in television history.

              "The Prophets made them disappear"

              *sigh*

          • by Antique Geekmeister (740220) on Monday January 08, 2007 @08:28PM (#17517022)
            That's because it was a direct theft by Paramount from JMS's plot proposal for a new Star Trek series, with an actual story ark. He was understandably furious when Paramount stole it, and went about showing what could be done without their budget or cooperation. And B5's plotting was much more powerful, although their special effects budget and actor budget wwere much smaller.

            It then amused the heck out of me when I saw Nurse Chapel/Lwaxana Troi/the ship's voice/Gene Roddenberry's widow show up as the emperor's wido. She's just wonderful to watch, a majestic older woman, knows that she wants to work on really good projects, and isn't frightened of threats from a company htat exists because of Gene Roddenberry's legacy.
    • by grumbel (592662)
      ### Keep it "Trek" and it's just not that fun as a video game.

      I think the adventure genre would disagree with you.
    • by Erwos (553607)
      It's not hard to make a good Trek game. Armada, 25th Anniversary, Elite Force, Star Fleet Command III, and A Final Unity were all good games. I think that the _quantity_ of Star Trek games causes this to be forgotten - but Star Wars really does have much the same problem.

      Also, I think your basic thesis is wrong anyways. The two big dialogue games (Borg and Klingon) both didn't do very well when they were released back in the mid-90's. What makes a good Star Trek episode may not make a good Star Trek game.
    • I dunno. "A Final Unity" was an adventure game that I thought was actually not half bad.

      Then again, nobody makes adventure games these days. Maybe they could take a cue from Sam and Max--if EVER a series cried out "episodic content" it's one where the original source was... episodic.
    • by fm6 (162816)

      So don't do an action game. The Trekverse would be a good place to set an old-fashioned adventure game [rr.com].

      Alas, CBS Paramount will never back such a game. Like all the big media companies, they have no faith in any entertainment that requires actual thinking by the audience to think.

    • A game where you have a half-dozen things to say to a half-dozen people is NOT a good dialogue game. Honestly, good dialogue games must be really hard to make, because I've never even HEARD of one. Oh, and they're expensive per gameplay - because if they're about dialogue and not speed, then once you do a mission right you'll have zero problems with it again. MUCH of Trek is about the "reveal" at the end of the episode, where something is not as it seemed at the beginning and it's amazing and cool how
      • KoTOR I & II seem to qualify as good dialogue games-- at least, most of the plot choices are driven by the conversation topics you choose. There's enough replay value in them to do both at least twice (once as the light side, the other as the dark side).

        Other people give honorable mention to Grim Fandango for the voice acting and plot in it.
  • Star Trek: 25th Anniversary was _excellent_. It felt like playing episodes of the old series. The puzzles were logical and TREK STYLE. The best Star Trek game I've ever played. The sequel, Judgment Rites, was not nearly as good but still, shares the place of second best Trek game with Elite Force.
    • It felt like playing episodes of the old series. The puzzles were logical...
      Stop right there! There's a parallel universe where episodes of the old series were logical?
    • by ErnieD (19277)
      I absolutely agree about ST:25th Anniv....I had a heck of a lot of fun playing that game. Really captured the style of the original series, including a fair bit of humor. And the ship combat was well done for the time...good use of localized shield and hull damage. It didn't try to mold Star Trek into a space RTS game which it's really not.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 08, 2007 @04:24PM (#17513136)
    Why is it so hard to make a good Trek game? Why do developers keep trying and failing?

    Maybe if they made a game based on Kirk banging green chicks, they would succeed.
  • i don't get it (Score:3, Interesting)

    by macadamia_harold (947445) on Monday January 08, 2007 @04:25PM (#17513142) Homepage
    Why is it so hard to make a good Trek game? Why do developers keep trying and failing?

    What's odd is that it is possible to make a good, licensed game. Take KOTOR for xbox, as an example.

    However, most studios seem to see a content license as a "get out of work free" card, and expect that the game will sell on name recognition alone, regardless of whether or not it's any good.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by stubear (130454)
      "However, most studios seem to see a content license as a "get out of work free" card, and expect that the game will sell on name recognition alone, regardless of whether or not it's any good."

      Oh, it will sell well. What game publishers truly hope for, however, is the license to make the game play well on name recognition alone.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by StikyPad (445176)
      Take KOTOR for xbox, as an example.

      Star Wars has a much more loosely defined universe, and consequently it's easier for game designers to be imaginative. Star Trek has an OCD fanbase who knows every single detail of every character, race, and ship that was ever referenced, even tangentially, in any Star Trek episode, ever, and they're going to be pissed if there are inconsistencies. There are a few of those people in the Star Wars camp as well, but there just isn't the same sort of detail for them to pore
  • by KalvinB (205500) on Monday January 08, 2007 @04:25PM (#17513150) Homepage
    Star Trek would probably translate better into an adventure game series (like Space Quest) since the shows revolve far more around talking (philosophy) than battling foes (action). Star Wars and Spider Man involve a lot more action. There's no shortage of villians that need to be killed in those series where in Star Trek it's all about negotiation/talking with very little death.

    In short, if you want a good Trek game they're going to need to switch game genres to match the show genre more closely.
    • by MBraynard (653724) on Monday January 08, 2007 @04:59PM (#17513776) Journal
      Another game which I enjoyed THOROUGHLY that is not of the genre you speak was Birth of the Federation. It has bugs but as a 4x game was probably the most fun I ever played. It was in the Star trek universe and had all of the characters, ships, and destinations. And I've never seen a 4x game with the Borg-style element done so well.

      Galactic Civilizations has some cool elements, but it lacks the artistic style and coolness and, in some ways, the intelligence of BOTF.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by meringuoid (568297)
      Star Trek would probably translate better into an adventure game series (like Space Quest) since the shows revolve far more around talking (philosophy) than battling foes (action).

      Hence the mention of A Final Unity, which was basically a point-'n-click adventure game in the SCUMM mould. There was occasional ship-to-ship combat, but much of your time was spent flying from planet to planet and conducting away missions, while unlocking the mysteries of the ancient civilisation and their Unity Device. Like KO

    • You mean like STTNG: A Final Unity [wikipedia.org], which came out 12 years ago?
  • by TrekkieGod (627867) on Monday January 08, 2007 @04:26PM (#17513172) Homepage Journal

    Given the dialogue and narration-heavy storytelling that Star Trek uses, it is possible that the Trek universe just isn't a good fit for videogames?

    That's not the problem. As the submitter mentioned himself, although most Trek games are horrible, there were some winners, such as A Final Unity. It might, however, restrict it to some genres. You take the Star Trek universe, and make a game where you just take ships back and forth and shoot at each other, and you're eliminating 90% of what makes trekkies like Trek. I can say the same thing about making a shooter out of it, which is why I for one didn't like Elite Force.

    The problem is that no one seems to like adventure games anymore. Why can't we have more games like Judgment Rites and Final Unity? Star Trek episodes, although they do contain some action which should not be ignored, are mostly about solving puzzles and making choices that influence the outcome of some event. That's what gamers do in adventure games, and that's why every trek gamer remembers A Final Unity as being so great.

  • Super Star Trek? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by petro6 (989039)
    Super Star Trek [wikipedia.org] anyone?
    God I loved that game from the moment I checked out the floppy from the local library...
  • Another, subtle frustration is the pathing your friendly ships use when circling a target. While sometimes ships do 'the right thing' and orbit their prey at an appropriate range, trying to keep weapons locked on the target at all times, that's not always a given. Often, ships locked onto a target attempt something I can best refer to as a 'strafing run', where they move directly at a target, allowing firing on the enemy for a brief period of time, before overshooting and swinging around for another pass.

    Oh

    • by Knara (9377)

      I'm pretty sure that the Enterprise D could hit any target with phasers in almost a 360 sphere (they had those strips on the top and bottom of the saucer section that seemed to be some sort of really long phaser array). Visualizing it I can imagine there were a few angles that might be blind spots, though.

      Thing that always bugged me was that aside from Star Trek 2 and 6, even in-universe the characters displayed "2-dimensional thinking" in regards to ship tactics (though saying that and thinking at the s

  • by Chairboy (88841) on Monday January 08, 2007 @04:28PM (#17513208) Homepage
    The article asks for an example of trek games that succeeded. The best, or at least, most enjoyable and replayable one I've found was written 20 years ago.

    It was a PC game called 'Begin:Tactical Starship Combat'. It ran first in 80x20 text and later in EGA, but unlike most trek games of the time (which were variants of the old "You're in a 'sector' with 12 quadrants. Press P for phaser" theme from the PDP-11 days, this one put you in charge of a ship (or a fleet) with detailed systems, a need to excercise tactics (instead of just pounding on a 'Fire all' button), and clever (or at least difficult) AI.

    You gave it commands using a quasi-english that you could shorten. "Pursue Krager at warp 6" could become "purs kr 6" for instance, as long as it was distinct enough.

    Phasers, torpedos, warp engines that could overheat, especially when they had taken damage (limiting your performance or making you sacrifice repair times for temporary speed), power systems management, shield management, all sorts of details but you weren't FORCED to micromanage 'em.

    Ship battles could be 1x1, or massive fleets. You can play hide & seek with a Romulan warbird, or escort a convoy and protect it against Orions.

    I made a web page about it a couple years ago, and there's a Yahoo groups with a few hundred people that STILL play it today. Someone has even hacked together a multiplayer version with clever use of assembly and a debugger.

    THIS is the kind of game that works with trek. It puts the player in the game as themselves, not as Kirk or Archer or Picard. The original Toy Story didn't have Barbie because Mattel was worried that Barbie on film wouldn't match the Barbie that kids have in their imagination. The same thing applies to Star Trek games. If the game doesn't let someone really feel like they're in control of things, or uses so many graphics that it gets into uncanny valley territory, then it'll disappoint at some level.

    Keep it simple while keeping it flexible. Configurable complexity, less graphics, more monkey.

    Here's a page I made about the game, with screenshots and downloads.

    http://hallert.net/misc/begin/begin.html [hallert.net]
    • by CaptnMArk (9003) on Monday January 08, 2007 @04:54PM (#17513678)
      There's also a more gooey-clicky alternative available: VTREK.EXE (google it)

      Works nicely under dosbox.

      Probably the most played trek game for me.

      (Although the suckiness of 'Legacy has made me discover the ST Bridge Commander which is okay).
      • by CaptnMArk (9003)
        Vtrek is a simpler game than BEGIN, but still has things like power distribution, damage control/repair, mining for dilithium (energy), stealing the romulan cloaking device, etc.

        And Tribbles :)

        Of course, it also has non-real-trek stuff, like the death ray or beaming the Enterprise to the nearest starbase.
      • Bridge Commander becomes a lot more than okay when you start adding free mods [filefront.com] that enhance the Quick Battle mode.

        Start with NanoFX [filefront.com]--among other things, damage to warp engines now appear as plasma trails instead of "smoke in space."

        Granted, many mods are visual improvments to stock ship models and effects, or add new ships. Some others though allow beaming to an allied ship, or separating saucer (and other, if available) sections during combat.

        Actually, I have to confess I've never played the "normal"

  • for the first I don't know how many missions, more than I was willing to wait through. You really shouldn't lead off with a weak spot, even if it was chronologically first...
  • That's the part that saddens us hardcore gamers/star trek fans. The fact that you have a rich palette to work with, but it never seems to work. The games either sound really nifty but suck when it comes right down to gameplay, or the game play is excellent, but they use a lackluster plot and/or poor storytelling

    The gameplay side of it seems to stem from the fact that the designers love to put in all the bells and whistles of life on a starship, but they put in way too much. They make you micro-manage every
  • The best Trek game (Score:2, Interesting)

    by zenderbender (663373)
    I've played hundreds of hours of a little known turn based Trek game called Birth of the Federation. I wouldn't say it was successful, (the company went out of business), but my friends and I have had many long nights battling as the different races. It is by far my favorite trek game.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by nharmon (97591)
      I really enjoyed Birth of the Federation and I think it is the best Star Trek to be made yet. However, my biggest complaint was that it lacked a real storyline. But at the same time, that would make it a lot like Armada, which was okay but the story made the game quite limiting (same goes for Starfleet Command).

      Give me BOTF with tons of side-missions (maybe patterned off of real Star Trek episodes like "The Chase"), and I'd be a happy camper.
  • ...for the PC version. The view appears to be that the game was forced out the door by the publishers before it was ready, and as a result it's full of bugs - but if it weren't for that, it would be a good game. Unfortunately a lot of games seem suffer this fate. I would assume the 360 version is in a similar position.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Erwos (553607)
      The 360 version is actually _not_ as buggy as the PC version, from what I've read. It just doesn't fix the fundamental design flaws.
  • by rhavenn (97211)
    I dunno, I always thought the best Trek game was Netrek [netrek.org] :) It definitely made time in the computer lab go by much faster.
  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Monday January 08, 2007 @04:38PM (#17513398) Homepage
    Is that it's effectively a modification of the developer's existing flight sim engine, and it really shows. Torpedo weapons have to be "locked on" by bearing on a target for a period of time, just like in a flight sim. The strafing passes are very much flight-sim based. Pull up, and you'll go up... until you "stall" at some sort of universal ceiling. It feels like flying F-86s and B-52s in 2.5 dimensions. What it doesn't feel like is Star Trek, unless you ever thought that Trek really needed to be more like Top Gun.

    And that's the 360 version. The PC version is just appalling, and barely usable out of the box. At least wait for them to add configurable controls. Yes, you read that right.

  • As others have pointed out, the problem is that they're using the wrong game genres. Star Trek the series was about exploration, diplomacy, and solving problems. Combat was limited and used a last resort. Therefore, it doesn't make much sense as a flight sim or FPS. Star Wars translates well to combat games, because it was about WAR. Trek doesn't translate as well because it was about TREKKING. That is, exploration and discovery, not so much with the fighting.

    My favorite space-sim game of all time was
  • Maybe I'm reading too much into the review, but it seems to me that the problems are issues that might be correctable by an appropriately implemented patch. (I don't have a 360, but from what I'm told it can download patches and install game patches.) With the exception of some frustrating level design, as Zonk mentioned, it sounds like the primary source of frustration comes from AI. AI logic can be tweaked. Game companies have been releasing AI modifications in game patches for years.

    I understand th
  • I was/am addicted to Star Trek: Birth of the Federation [wikipedia.org]. It's pretty much MOO with some improvements, but in the Star Trek universe.
  • by CrazyTalk (662055) on Monday January 08, 2007 @05:07PM (#17513914)
    The one great star trek game I've seen was the one I planed in high school and in college - on a VT100 terminal connected to a mainframe, with the little tic-tac-toe like grid showing you where your ship was.
  • Star Trek was always more about naval battles, but in space, than a star fighter games like Star Wars.

    Can anyone name a good naval game where you controlled destroyers and battleships? There are next to none and what do exist are almost always bad.

    What i think could do a good Trek game for naval combat would be to focus on the more "fighter"-types ships of the latest shows. We would have more fun maneuvering some kind of shuttle that can only fire in front of itself than maneuvering a huge and slow ship tha
    • by CaptnMArk (9003)

      >What i think could do a good Trek game for naval combat would be to focus on the more "fighter"-types ships of the latest shows. We would have more fun maneuvering some kind of shuttle that can only fire in front of itself than maneuvering a huge and slow ship that can fire anywhere it faces because the guns/phasers are mounted on turrets.

      But that's not Star Trek. That kind of ship would be scrap metal as soon as it entered the firing range of the Enterprise. (except maybe once, as a terrorist strike, i
  • Now, I haven't played Legacy on my 360. I was hoping to download a demo last weekend, but it wasn't available. Still, it's getting bad reviews all over the place. So... *shrug*. But there is a free alternative.... I know, nobody cares about netrek [netrek.org] any longer. But I remember first seeing this game on a Sun 3/60 back in 1987 or so and was *very* impressed. It's still a fun game... probably a whole lot more fun than this 360 Trek game. Especially if you're into military strategy gaming.

    IMO, that's what a lot o
  • by petrus4 (213815) on Monday January 08, 2007 @05:22PM (#17514184) Homepage Journal
    As far as the difficulty of making a decent Trek computer game goes, there are at least two major problems. The first of these also had a hand in sinking the show itself.

    a) The single most overwhelming problem (which has also hamstrung *every* series and film after TOS) is the question of how much you should try and simply appeal to the established fanbase vs. how much you should try and do outreach to new audiences/go in new directions. Rick Berman's inability to balance this issue was, more than anything else, the single main thing which killed Voyager and Enterprise in the end. With Voyager to a large degree he simply ended up adopting an attitude of, "screw the base," and focused purely on trying to draw new audience, whereas with Enterprise he tried to appeal more to the base at times, but was still unable to balance the issue. I think also the problem is that a balance isn't really possible...you basically have a scenario where the earlier/more conventional series had a philosophical basis of fairly heavy pacifism on the one hand, but where there was a transition period during DS9 in particular where violence started being incorporated more and more as a regular part of the show, until you got to the level of around fifth to seventh season Voyager which regularly had episodes that played like low-budget versions of the Lethal Weapon movies in space. Elite Force in particular was able to use that to its' advantage, and that alone is probably the main reason why that's been one of the only two Trek games (the other having been A Final Unity) that could be called an unqualified success.

    Looking at it now, I think the lesson is that because each series had such a fundamentally different approach to the issue of violence, in a game or movie you can't mix series. If you're going to do a Voyager game for instance, you can make an FPS and have it as violent as you want. A Voyager game also wants a heavily postmodern, gritty, and also fairly multi-ethnic feel, with adolescent sexual angst between Tom and BE'lanna, comic relief from the Doctor, Chakotay doing his stereotypical Red Man schtick, and lots of Janeway's trademark moral ambiguity and gleeful abuse of authority.

    A TNG game on the other hand *has* to be something like A Final Unity; an almost entirely non-violent puzzle-solver. A TOS game could have some degree of violence, but it has to be 60s oriented and cowboyish in nature, which means unarmed fisticuffs for the most part. The Utopian/"universal peace" vibe doesn't have to be as strong for a TOS game as for TNG either, but a certain amount of it doesn't hurt. I thought Starfleet Academy got it right in terms of having an Andorian as one of the students, as well. That sort of unobtrusive in reference helps to keep the autistic geek base happy, and won't upset normal audiences *too* much if it isn't overdone. Of all of these, DS9 is probably the trickiest to get right, which probably also explains why it hasn't been done successfully in a game. A DS9 game could have a certain amount of violence, but it needs to be kept restrained a subtle way. (Odo's restrained use of martial arts with carefully and clearly performed hand strikes are a good example of what I'm talking about, here) The idea with DS9 is that of a society which has traditionally been pacifist, but which is in the process of discovering that violence is something of a necessity on the basis of self-defense. The seventh season episode, "The Siege of AR-558," is probably the best example of what I'm talking about, there.

    b) I get the feeling that in some cases, game design houses possibly (if only subconsciously) had the attitude that because they were doing a Trek game, it probably wasn't going to achieve more than cult popularity anywayz, and so therefore there wasn't much point in making sure that it was a truly quality game. If you're going to do a strongly character/story oriented Trek game, then yes, there is a fairly strong possibility that you're not going to hold much appeal outside the base. Howe
  • The best Star Trek game I ever played was in the pre-PC era - Starfleet battles, played with chits, pen, and paper, with diagrams of the ships to mark off areas that were damaged. Used to play this in study hall back in 1980.
  • by Phil Urich (841393) on Monday January 08, 2007 @05:47PM (#17514630) Journal
    Whenever people mention good Trek games, no one seems to mention DS9: The Fallen [memory-alpha.org] Anyone that has actually played it, however, tends to acclaim it! Startrek-gamers gives it extensive praise in their history of Star Trek gaming [startrek-gamers.com].

    Honestly, I was taken with the game from the moment I played the demo. Granted, I played the demo far after it had come out (as far as I can tell it wasn't nearly as well publicized as it could have been). But when I did! Even just the level of detail in the weather they had added (realistic snow falling, Sisko leaving footprints on the ground) was pretty impressive, especially for the time, and in general it had a solid and true-to-Trek feel to it in contrast to the glitchy, floaty and "mod tacked on to a game engine" nature of most licensed games. And there was a level editor! Yes, that's right, even the demo [startrek.com] includes the brilliant UnreadEd package for creating one's own levels. Naturally this has led to some rather impressive fan-made expansions to the game, Convergence [fusioncreativedesign.com] being perhaps the most notable. Alas, the oldskool UnrealEd 1 is a bit tricky to get working with newer versions of Windows, but I have it working just fine on my XP SP1 comp (the trick is compatibility mode combined with a working 98 install somewhere that you can copy missing .ocx files it warns you about when you try to start it in XP).

    And hey, with everyone buying Macs nowadays it's worth noting that it was officially ported to the Mac long ago (from the official website, "OS 8 or higher (NOTE Runs in OS 9.1 emulation mode in OS X)"). And of course the game is old enough that running it under one form of emulation or another isn't too taxing on a system...in other words, yeah, I'd bet it'll run on Linux ;) (I haven't tried myself since I'm running AMD64 on my main Linux install, which, umm, doesn't make cross-platform emulation that easy, heh).

    I'd recommend anyone who enjoyed DS9, or just feels like playing a well-made Star Trek game, to at least give the demo a chance. It's free-as-in-beer, after all, and to a large degree the openness of UnrealEd and it's access to the scripting underneath the game makes it closer to free-as-in-speech than most games. And keep your eyes out in bargain bins, it shouldn't be too expensive if you find a copy! (I found my copy really cheap years ago already in an EB games store while I was visiting Monroe, Michigan.)
  • Ohhhh shit (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fm6 (162816) on Monday January 08, 2007 @05:49PM (#17514680) Homepage Journal
    To give you a horrible taste, it mentions V'ger, from the first Star Trek movie, in connection with the Borg's origin. Looking back on the whole story from the last mission gives you an 'ohhh' moment, but it's not that great a payoff for the amount of time you spend in the dark.

    IMHO, "ohhh" moments are the biggest reason Star Trek is unsalvagable. Too many people who write for the Trekverse think they have to explain some stupid little detail from TOS or the early movies. In fact, most of the issues that "need" resolving are there because the premise kept changing (remember the United Earth Space Probe Authority?) or because the writers didn't even understand the premise (the author of "Balance of Terror" obviously didn't know that the show was about interstellar travel, and probably didn't even understand the word "interstellar").

    When they resurrected Star Trek back in 1979, they made the very logical decision to simply abandon the details of the Trekverse that were there for no compelling reason, such as making all the aliens look like humans in weird makup. But then literal-minded fans insisted on an "explanation" for the Klingon Head Ridge Mystery and other such bullshit.

    Face it trekkies, Star Trek is dead — and you killed it.

  • Starfleet Academy (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Stevecrox (962208)
    See the only Star Trek game I liked was Starfleet academy, it had for the time really good graphics (there stil lnot that bad), the movie sequences added to the game and while much of the game was flying around firing things there was a lot of decision points which did effect the gameplay, you could effect your teams scores, an extra mission opened up if you took anouther route, sometimes you would have to destroy someone if you said the wrong thing in negotiations. There was a sequel known as Klingon Acade
  • "What is confusing, and troubling, is that this is just the latest in a long line of disappointing Trek games."

    It seems like they are just mirroring the actual shows pretty damn well.
  • The PC version has got to be the worst game I've ever played, and it is a reminder why it is prodent to read reviews before buying. When I first installed the game, I completely lost mouse functionality within moments of playing. I found out that this was fixed, along with a completely nonfunctional multiplayer, via the 1.1 patch that was released at virtually the same time as the game itself. Unfortunately the control scheme is poorly documented (the manuals and the in-game tutorial are both woefully ina
  • I've won about 2/3rds of the achievements in the game so far.

    But... even though the difficulty is set at the CAPTAIN level, it's rather disappointingly easy, once you figure out where certain "snatch" points are in the game. There are parts of the game that do offer more difficulty, such as the mission where you must keep the Borg "busy" while a rescue operation commences to move transport ships off planets being taken over by the Borg.

    However, the No. annoying thing in the game is the difficulty in torpe
    • by Knara (9377)
      The crewmen loading torps thing seems stupid to me. Yeah, I know we even had footage in II and VI of crewmen preping torpedo bays for firing, but aside from Nicholas Meyer fleshing out his submarine battle allegories, I didn't see the point. All that shit should be automated (though I guess there's precedence for manual weapons controls going back to TOS in an episode where were shown that the the phaser controls were actually in a separate room that was manned by technicians; though that seemed to be lat
  • As its been pointed out, very few games have been good. What other licensed games have been good? Ignoring sports and racing and john deer American farmer type games. Personally I actually enjoyed Armada. As an RTS at the time I found it to be quite good. Especially since it allowed you to steal enemy ships and buildings, or steal construction units and actually build their stuff. I liked elite Forces 2 and the 25th anniversary game. What game is going to work best?
    Massive CRPG combining:
    1)The tactical comb
  • Were unlicensed open source projects in the early days of computing. Something like netrek or Conquest [softpedia.com] or even earlier text mode games on the mainframes were a blast to play. Hell, I spent many (MANY) an hour in the Vax lab playing Conquest. I also spent many an hour on a Linux-running 486 playing netrek. Simple competitive gameplay seems to be key. Perhaps if Microsoft made a netrek downloadable client and put some servers up they'd have a winning Trek game.

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