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Star Trek: Legacy Review
publisher: Bethesda Softworks
developer: Mad Doc Software
PIV 2800, 512MB RAM, 5GB HDD, 128MB video card
|ESRB rating: E
release date: Dec 05, 06 (released)
|» All About Star Trek: Legacy on ActionTrip|
When it comes to video games, the Star Trek universe provided groundwork for some awesome achievements. Star Trek: Starfleet Command 3 happened to be the last Star Trek themed game I've played and I remember enjoying it immensely. It was all about tactics and skillful maneuvering in real-time, on top of taking part in dynamic space battles and making key decisions that can easily shift the course of an exciting dogfight. Understandably, I was pleased when a retail copy of Star Trek Legacy fell into my lap. Also, I was eager to try this one out, given the absence of any halfway decent space shooter or space simulations on the PC market (with the possible exception of X3: Reunion - which turned out okay, if we disregard the bug galore).
Star Trek Legacy manages to bind together the original series, including Next Generation and Enterprise, while conveying a pretty convincing and well-structured plot throughout the whole single-player campaign. So, yeah, you'll be able to enjoy a game that actually spans across the entire Star Trek timeline, offering ships and characters from practically every era from the movies and TV series. Mad Doc and Bethesda were right to hire Dorothy C. Fontana (accredited for writing many memorable chapters in the Star Trek series) and co-writer Derek Chester. Their contribution to the project certainly adds a special ingredient needed to satisfy hardcore Star Trek devotees. Besides which, the narrative is strengthened with a familiar cast, featuring all five captains from Star Trek. (Surely, one of them is dead of old age by now. What? - Ed)
Throughout the first chapter, you begin an intergalactic voyage as Captain Archer. Your battleship, the Enterprise, heads out to investigate and report on suspicious activities in certain sectors of the universe. After encountering a bunch of Romulan hunters and wiping them off the space chart, Archer manages to salvage a female Vulcan scientist and her crew. Shortly after the rescue, the Vulcans disappear without a reasonable explanation. The plot thickens and the space voyage continues.
Moving past the good narrative, I struggled to keep a positive point of view as I played the game, especially given my experience with Starfleet Command 3. Star Trek Legacy is an action game for the most part, but some missions involve a few strategic elements as well as manipulating multiple ships. At which time, you're gonna have to take the time to think while giving specific orders to other battleships. The only trouble is that there's usually very little time to hang around and consider each move, so you'll wind up making hasty and, quite often, wrong decisions. When combat begins, you can jump from ship to ship, which is indeed useful when you wish to take matters into your own hands and manage ships individually. The downside is that it's quite easy to get lost in the shuffle when several battles go on simultaneously. Things would be a lot easier if the developers included an intuitive map system or a pause feature that would give you additional time to consider each move. The space map that's available is good enough, but seems to lack more options that would help you have better control over your ships. Overall, it's a bit of a click-fest and it eventually comes down to moving the cursor around and seeking out targets.
As I said, the story is exciting and helps keep a steady pace. The single-player campaign presents a wide selection of missions to go through. Some of these include reconnaissance, fighting against Romulan, Klingon and Borg ships, exploring various regions of space, etc. A great deal of assignments requires players to escort vital space frigates and cruisers until they fulfill their designated duties. In a nutshell, the first part of the game involves a simple routine: you arrive to a star system, listen to the narration, wait for enemy ships to show up, annihilate all of them and then wait for the inevitable cut-scene. Things pick up when The Next Generation era begins. Missions start to take a more laidback ambiance that puts emphasis on space exploration, scientific research and diplomacy. Still, the enemy will always be there to make these endeavors more difficult for your fleet. Destroying enemy ships gives you the opportunity to collect command points, which can later be used to add new ships to the fleet. But there's not much to find in this feature. It's a shame that they've elbowed the idea to upgrade existing ships - it would have been a worthwhile addition to the gameplay.
Gradually, we've come to one of the most annoying aspects of the PC version of Star Trek Legacy. It suffers a great deal from unresponsive and unintuitive controls. Maneuvering can be exasperating, especially when the ship needs to come around and repeat an attack on enemy fighters (which are usually a lot faster than you). It's obvious that the game is better suited for gamepads.
The AI appears to do a fine job in terms of handling individual friendly ships in combat and foes are well-versed in the arts of space combat, so at least we haven't any objections in that department. If you consider yourself an able battleship commander, Star Trek Legacy provides a suitable challenge for your skills.
Most missions, however, are way too long. As you progress, there are more and more things to do, and thus frustration ensues when you realize that there's no save or checkpoint option available during the mission. If you screw things up at the last stages of the assignment, it's back to square one.
As far as the next-generation graphics splendor goes, there isn't so much as a hint of it. If you look closely, you can see decent enough ship models. Also, space combat sometimes treats players to sporadically decent looking explosions and colorful effects caused by phaser and laser fire. Ultimately, even the explosions managed to disappoint and I'm sure you'd all agree that explosions are an important segment of creating an exciting atmosphere (even if they can't actually happen in space). I don't know what the developers meant exactly by "next-generation graphics" but this just looks way too outdated. (The universe looked to me like someone threw up colors all across the screen. -Ed) Traveling through space is, therefore, a dull experience, showing off models with poor texture patterns and scarce details in the backdrop. When you enter a particular star system, there won't be much to see, outside of a recurring display of feebly presented asteroids, planets and nebulae.
Another mystifying fact about Star Trek Legacy, which may prolong the initial sense of discontent, is the painful lack of more solid collision detection. Flying a ship involves taking evasive maneuvers each time you engage in dogfights. Seeing the Enterprise bounce off a nearby planet like it was made of rubber kind of killed the ambiance. Call me old-fashioned, but I like to believe battleships and cruisers are smaller than planets and as such are subjected to the irrefutable laws of gravity and physics.
Another weird issue came to my attention when one of my ships strayed off the mission map. The screen went berserk and I had to reload and start the mission all over again. It appears that Star Trek Legacy still needs aspects polished and there's certainly a lot to be desired gameplay wise. On the whole, ST: Legacy gives off the impression of being incomplete.
There's also a multiplayer portion on offer. However, we weren't able to hook up with any players online (it seems there weren't any takers for an online intergalactic showdown... pity). The skirmish mode, on the other hand, was pleasing I guess, even though additional map and ship tweaking options wouldn't have gone amiss.
Star Trek fans may take comfort in the fact that there's an engaging storyline to be experienced, coupled with the voice talents of the well-known cast. Apart from that, it's hard to find any lasting qualities here. The game is challenging enough to make you play for a few hours, but it seems that some slip-ups in overall design have easily diminished all hopes of undertaking a highly immersive and profound space adventure. If it weren't for the technical mishaps and awkward gameplay mechanics, this game would've been a worthy addition to the Star Trek universe.
Story, covering the extensive Star Trek timeline, voiceovers, can be a decent challenge...
...or maybe too much of a challenge at times, weird technical issues, frustrating controls, planet collision issues, poor graphics.
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