|Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force|
|Could this actually be a good Star Trek title? I know, I'm scared too, read on for full details.|
|October 25th, 2000|
|When I heard about a new Star Trek game coming to the PC I was both excited and fearful of another big disappointment. Star Trek games in the past have always been known to fail, or at least be sub-standard titles at best. There have been so many bad Star Trek games that most people say it's a curse, and I'm inclined to agree. It's the best explanation I've ever heard to explain it. For years I've been waiting to play at least one good game based on the Star Trek theme. With all of the Star Trek shows on TV lately you would think that some developer would finally break through with a great game that can be both true to the series and fun to play at the same time. Well the time is now and the developer is Raven. Utilizing the Quake 3 Arena engine they have created a Star Trek game that will be remembered for a long time to come.
You are ensign Munro, member of the newly formed "Hazard Team". Commanded by Lt. Tuvok you are a group of officers specially trained for dangerous situations, whether that be to prevent a warp core breach or infiltrate a Borg Cube, it's all in a day's work for the Hazard Team. The story in Elite Force plays out just like an episode of the show. In fact the dialogue and plot are so well done that it could've actually been made into an episode. Raven wanted a good Trek game and it certainly shows.
All cast members have done voice-overs for this game as well (with the exception of Seven of Nine). Without the real voices I think the game would've lost a lot of the effect. When you are on the bridge and you hear line after line of dialogue coming from the crew regarding the ship status you'll swear you're onboard. From Tom Paris' wise-cracks to Tuvok's "logical" remarks, everything is as true to the series as anyone could've expected or asked for. Sound effects are perfect. Phasers, transporters, comm badges, and even the "swish" sound the doors make are all there and sound just like they should.
The game visuals are very nicely done. As with the voices, the graphics couldn't be any more true to the show. Just the Borg level alone comes through with incredible visuals that depict every detail of the whole Borg environment. I didn't realize just how detailed until I watched an episode of the show lately where the crew was onboard a Borg Cube. Onboard Voyager the amount of detail is no different. The bridge, engineering, the transporter room, and holodeck, are all virtually exact duplicates of what you'll see on the show. Player models are also well done, though not all look identical to the real people they are pretty darn close. The Borg, Klingon, and other enemies you will face also look great and have a fair bit of detail. Raven has done an exceptional job here in the graphic department.
The way Elite Force is played out is different than most first person shooters. At all times there are team members fighting by your side and helping you solve puzzles. It's something that isn't done much in this type of genre but Raven pulls it off quite well in the end. You always feel that you are working as a team to complete each level. Weapons in the game are not all that original or unique however. There is really nothing that'll surprise you, but the weapons are all designed well and all have the Star Trek look and feel to them.
As with any game, Elite Force isn't without it's flaws, though they are only minor. Load times are both frequent and long. You honestly can't move around for 5-10 minutes without seeing another area load. The problem is that each level is broken into tiny pieces. While this will definitely make the game run faster on lower end machines it does tend to be annoying after you see the load screen 15 times in just a few short levels. AI always seems to be a problem and the same is true for this title. Not so bad that it ruins the game but bad enough to annoy most gamers. A lot of the time the members of your team will shoot you as they are trying to attack the enemies.
This isn't the only issue, sometimes they will block your path in the smaller tunnels. This may not seem all that bad, but you'll be frustrated pretty quick when you are swarmed with enemies and can't run back the way you came. The levels also have a "small" feeling to them. There is always only one way to go, every other door or area is blocked off. While this is not really a bad point it does make it seem like you have no freedom to explore. I, for one, would've loved to explore the whole ship. The only other issue is a pretty big one, the game ends very quickly. Most gamers will be able to get through the entire game within a few days. When I finished the game so quickly I felt a little let down, such a great title and at the same time a very short experience.
This is currently the best Star Trek game in existence that I have played. Any Star Trek fan who doesn't already have it should definitely buy it. Regardless of the short game experience there's enough fun to be had with Elite Force to warrant finishing it 2 or 3 times through. Trust me, it's better the second time. And when you are tired with the single player game there's still a great multiplayer, which is a lot like Quake 3 Arena with the Star Trek feel. Even gamers who aren't big fans of the show will still enjoy the great graphics and environments Elite Force has to offer.
The good points: excellent graphics and sound that are true to the series and Star Trek universe, great story and dialogue, you get to fight the Borg!
The bad points: poor AI at times, long load times that are way too frequent, game ends a little too quickly.
Video Gamer Guy