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Star Trek: Bridge Commander Review
developer: Totally Games
PII-300, 64MB RAM, 500MB HDD, 3D accelerator
|ESRB rating: E
release date: Feb 27, 02 (released)
|» All About Star Trek: Bridge Commander on ActionTrip|
I consider myself a semi-Trek fan, as I've basically only enjoyed the Next Generation series. Now, I had no idea in which universe Star Trek: Bridge Commander was set (I was too lazy to look it up on the net) but you can imagine my joy when Captain Picard came aboard my ship to welcome me to my new post of Captain. I was even happier to find out that Bridge Commander features over 16 voice actors including Patrick Stewart and Brent Spiner reprising their roles as Captain Picard and Commander Data. Whatever doubt I had that I might be dealing with a half-assed Trekky project (and there were plenty of those) immediately beamed up to God knows where, and what I had before me was a quality space sim game from the authors of such titles as X-Wing and Tie Fighter. OK, just think back. How much fun did you have playing those two games? 'Nuff said I think.
Star Trek: Bridge Commander puts you in the hot seat of a Federation Captain, and if you ever wanted to say: "ensign, take us into warp," I think you couldn't have picked a better game title to do it. Star Trek: Bridge Commander has managed to achieve something which I thought was damn-near impossible and that's to make the game accessible to both hard-core Trek fans and casual gamers alike. Sure there have been some trade-offs in those regards, but I think the dev. team did a masterful job of bringing the true geeky-Trekky atmosphere to the PC, while keeping the interface easy enough and bearable for the casual gamer. In a nutshell, you're a federation Captain. You sit in a nice comfy chair of your ship, and give out orders to your crew who are sitting next to you on the command bridge. There are basically five to six vital crew members on the deck. Their swift and synchronized reactions and your quick decision-making is what separates a top-class Federation vessel from a sub-par one, as it is the man-power, er... and woman-power, and alien-power as well...er, you get the point (even in the distant future) that keeps these babies running so smoothly. Each crew member has its own set of duties:
- HELM: Set course, set speed and complete maneuvers in non-combat situations.
- TACTICAL: Arm and target weapons, adjust power allocations, activate and configure defensive systems, launch scripted maneuvers and see overall 3D strategic views of the area.
- FIRST OFFICER: Sets alert levels, handles damage reports and ship-to-ship communications.
- SCIENCE: Report on the current situation, scan particular objects or areas and launch probes.
- ENGINEERING: Control the engines, transfer power and organize the repair teams and priorities.
- SECOND OFFICER: Special seat for dignitaries and others aboard the ship.
The guys and gals...and alien races from your crew will become your best buddies when you find yourself in a tight spot. Accessing each of the crew members is a breeze and it's done through function keys (or by a single mouse click), and the combat itself can be pretty automated if you want it to be. I mean, even a dumbass Klingon (hehe... let the flames begin - ed) could learn how to operate the interface in Bridge Commander, but the beauty of this game (actually of its design) is that the developers have left plenty of room for players to hone their skills and learn all the subtleties of commanding a Star Trek vessel. This game can basically be as complex or as simple as you want it to be. Most of the action is happening on the main screen, though there is a tactical map available, which I haven't found really useful during my playing time. Now, even though the battles are rather intense, especially during the longer missions (as there is no save game option), I still believe the developers could've given us a bit more freedom in terms of maneuvering our ship. One other drawback of the combat system is the fact that the enemy AI isn't too bright. For some reason, it will maneuver its vessel in such a manner that it exposes the most vulnerable parts of the vessel to your torpedo fire, and it won't stop doing that till the ship becomes a giant mass of debris and star dust. That's a little disappointing, considering that most of the combat revolves around tactics, rather than quick reflexes.
8.5 Very Good
Excellent game design decisions and solutions that will surely appeal to every Trek fan; intuitive interface, story, voice acting, traces of non-linearity;
Being a STBC Captain can feel a bit claustrophobic (sitting in that comfy chair all the time). Having to do tedious choirs for God knows how many times. Enemy AI could've been a bit smarter. Weapon effects and explosions just aren't spectacular enough.