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Star Trek: Starfleet Command 3 Review
PIII 450, 128MB RAM, 16MB Video Card, 650MB HD
|ESRB rating: E
release date: Nov 06, 02 (released)
|» All About Star Trek: Starfleet Command 3 on ActionTrip|
Red alert, all uncompromising Star Trek fans are to assemble at once! Activision released its latest tactical space-combat sim, Star Trek: Starfleet Command III. The name Taldren may not sound familiar to most of you, but they represent a group of extremely talented and creative game developers. After establishing great renown with their Starfleet Command series, they've attempted to refine the game and its intricacies in a third incarnation. As soon as I sampled all of the single-player campaigns and got through several exciting multiplayer skirmishes, I became addicted to the game's complexity and amazing gameplay depth.
Take that Romulan scum!
Hey! Watch where you're flying that piece of junk!
When you begin the game you are offered a selection of four huge campaigns. You can play alongside The United Federation of Planets, The Klingon Empire, The Romulan Star Empire, and the Borg Collective. Naturally, the game has a fundamental storyline which links all four campaigns. All Star Trek admirers should already know that this game takes place prior to the events of the upcoming flick, Star Trek: Nemesis. Basically, the great war between the Federation and the Klingons has finally come to an end. Joining one of these two sides means you're gonna have to preserve peace and order and tighten the correlation between the Federation and Klingons at all cost. To symbolize the new-found Klingon and Federation unity a construction of a controversial new starbase had begun. Without any hesitation, the Romulan race has waged war on this unity and launched a surprising attack. In any case, whatever race you choose, your main goal is to command your starship and achieve victory against the enemy, gaining as much prestige as you can.
Each single-player campaign has a rich array of mandatory missions as well as numerous optional scenarios you can participate in. This is one of the main improvements over the previous installment - Star Trek: Starfleet Command II: Empires at War; the missions are more interesting and involving. However, I still think that some of the sub-missions could've been a bit more engaging, since they tend to become boring after a while. But that problem is usually outshined by the excellently balanced story-related scenarios.
Star Trek: Starfleet Command III involves a great deal of adjusting and scrutinizing. This includes a thorough examination of all the options that are available before the game, as well as a wide variety of commands you're required to adapt during space-combat. Complex controls, parameters, and various other tunings, have always been a well-known trademark of the Starfleet series. Inexperienced players are strongly advised to consult the game manual or to check out the game's tutorial, which is accessible at the beginning of the game. Most players have complained about the game being too hard to deal with in real-time. Rather than insisting on an inflexible turn-based game genre, the developers have made a far more intuitive approach. Although players control their ships in real-time, they can also fine-tune the game's speed if it becomes too knotty for them. This is possible both in single-player and in multiplayer modes.
The idea of the game is to engulf the player in the elaborate principals of space-combat. It compels players to practice until they become expert pilots. But that's not the game's main trump. Emphasizing the strategy as a crucial part of any flight plan, Star Fleet Command III also emphasizes the importance of ship mechanics as well as the experience of your personnel. Both of these aspects represent the very core of gameplay. The customization of your ship has to be a precise and well-thought out combination of various parts. As most of you know the previous game featured over 1,300 types of ships and vessels, 600 of which were playable. Since the game takes place in the Next Generation Universe, there's a huge number of brand new vessels as well as numerous ship components for you to purchase. Every supplemented add-on, from primary weapon systems to the warp core, is worth a certain amount of prestige points. BTW, prestige points represent sort of a currency substitute and can be earned from successfully completed missions. Like I've mentioned, a well-trained and highly experienced flight crew is the right recipe to a successful and skillful space voyage. Your main on-board team consists of six key officers: tactical, helm, security, ops, engineer, and medic. Without going too much into detail, I'll give you an example of how important one crew member can be. During a particular mission, my engineer got badly injured and there was no one on board equipped to deal with the ship's repairs. Therefore, you have to do you best not to receive too much damage, so as to avoid any major casualties. Also, it would be pertinent to mention that each team member gains experience individually, according to the nature of the mission. Having a higher level of experience results in better performance of your vessel and of the entire crew. Pretty neat, huh? I rather like that RPG element in the game.
As you can see, the game takes you on a large-scale space voyage, at the same time offering some improvements over previous Starfleet games. A most obvious enhancement was incorporated into the ship's controls, which now work more intuitively and fluently. Of course, to enjoy the whole game properly, you must set yourself a preferable combination of keys. Once you get used to the controls, nothing will stand between you and your road to glory.
I think we may be too close to the Sun, I can feel my Klingon-underwear melting.
BTW, that asteroid looks really nice when it's moving. Seriously.
There's a great deal of challenges throughout the uncharted regions of the Universe. During your voyages, you'll mostly be encountering unfriendly vessels. CPU-controlled ships are supplied with a strong and responsive AI routine, which became obvious after several intense dog-fights. When the enemy engages in combat, you'll be able to see just how effectively it exploits the advantages of a spacecraft. If you take out its port shield, for instance, the enemy will immediately redirect the energy to the shield you're currently firing at. Also, all foes will be using additional ship feats like cloaking and high-energy turns. So, stay sharp!
Visually, the game received a fitting make-over. The ship models are all in high-res and they were enriched with more texture details, prettier reflections, and a wider number of polys to boot. One notable improvement is the more visible ship damage; every fired proton torpedo or phaser causes evident bruises and dents on the ship's hull. In addition to that, colorful smoke and fumes will rise out of the vessel if certain engine parts get damaged. Although I did expect to see more work done with those particle effects. Still, that doesn't present too much of a problem, since most of the explosions seem to have the desired effect on the overall atmosphere of space combat. The interface was well-designed and appears to deal pretty well with a myriad of game options. However, the main map could still use some fresh and thorough changes - the current map looks somewhat old-fashioned and doesn't provide the appropriate amount of visual aids. Also, I was hoping for more intuitive camera controls, since all the provided angles don't seem to offer an ultimately satisfying solution (maybe it's a personal thing).
From what I got to hear of the in-game sounds, and I really played the game for a long time, there are hardly any flaws to be found. The dialogs throughout the mission assignments are of top-quality and the voiceovers are flawless. Plus, all of the explosions sound terrific. The soundtrack is superb, all of your favorite Star Trek tunes are there, and they don't seem to lag behind the action one bit.
We had some extreme fun while playing through LAN and Internet multiplayer skirmishes. Unfortunately, we still didn't get a proper chance to experience the new so-called Dynaverse 3 multiplayer component, which the crew at Activison and Taldren have stressed as the best aspect of the game. Gamers will be able to form fleets with their teammates, storm enemy convoys, siege planets, etc. I'm looking forward to that one...
A few closing words
Reaffirming the glory of the Star Trek series and enhancing it with miscellaneous innovative gameplay elements, Star Trek: Star Fleet Command III is a deep-involving and highly addictive space-combat sim. The game's sharp learning curve and its complexity shouldn't be unrightfully misinterpreted as a game flaw, but rather as an essential part of the whole experience. And let me say something to all of you gamers out there who may prefer less demanding games: you shouldn't give up if you happen to suck as a Starfleet pilot. It just takes a few hours practice and you'll be a highly decorated officer in no time.
Another compelling Starfleet title. Improved visuals and ship controls. There are four large campaigns for you to participate in. The multiplayer is as fun as always. The intricacy of vessel evolvement. Excellent single-player scenarios. Addictive multiplayer;
The space map should've been improved; visually. Some of the sub-missions can become boring after a while.
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