Star Trek: Starfleet Command
It'll leave you Beaming
Star Trek, Paramount
Studios' venerable franchise, appears to be spawning as many computer
games as the George Lucas movie series once called "the Star Wars Trilogy."
LucasArts has generally
done a better job of taking the sci-fi concept to computer screens, however,
but "Starfleet Command" is one of the better Star Trek offerings to date.
It's a "starship simulation" that puts you in command of various types
In Starfleet Command
you can choose to represent one of six races: the Federation, Klingons,
Romulans, Gorn, the Lyrans, and the Hydrans. The game comes with a rather
thick and intimidating manual - and it helps to give it the once over
a couple of times. Fortunately, for the "manually impatient," there's
also a decent set of tutorial missions you can play to get you up and
The game opens with
a nifty cutscene that zooms outward through the galaxy. From there you
choose your race and the type of game you want to play (campaign or whatever)
and the difficulty level.
The game screen has
a large window in which the action takes place and a series of smaller
windows stacked along the left hand side of the screen that give you readouts
on a wide variety of game parameters, from "preferences" to weapons, communications,
etc. The game is configurable for various monitor resolutions, and the
higher res you are the more display windows you see onscreen.
Graphics and sound
are terrific and control of your ship is handled very well. Weapons look
and sound like they should, and the background and foreground images (whether
starfield, space stations, ships, or whatever) also look very good. Audio
is billed as being Dolby Surround, though since our review was done on
a system without rear speakers we can't comment on this feature. We certainly
applaud its inclusion, though!
George Takei is along
as narrator/mentor (if you choose to sign on with the United Federation
of Planets), in his role as Captain Sulu, and it's nice to have his familiar
tones around. Other races have their own voices.
Your control of the
starship is "third person," as opposed to the first person "point of view"
games like Quake etc., so you watch events unfold from outside the ship
rather than standing on the bridge and barking orders.
This is fine, though.
The outside perspective lets you see the action better.
But you may not have
time for sightseeing, because you have to take care of business: helm,
communications, weapons, transporter, security, shields, are all under
your control and you'll want to pay attention because it's easy to lose
track - and end up as bits of starship floating away from each other as
you're blown to Kingdom Come.
Depending upon your
success as the game progresses, you can be awarded "prestige points" you
can use for upgrading your men and materiel. And don't forget the advantages
of an experienced crew, which can make even a substandard ship perform
to the top of its abilities. Naturally, you want the best of both worlds
- top ship and top crew - but these don't just fall from the sky; you
have to earn them.
In all, it's a pretty
Naturally, Star Fleet
Command has extensive multiplayer capability - including one called "Pass
the Tribble." Up to six players can cooperate or compete head to head.
One thing we noticed
early on - and which disturbed us a bit - is that it appears impossible
to crash ships into each other. This is a nice safety device if you tend
to have problems navigating, but it also rules out desperation strategies
like "Ramming Speed!" Oh well...
We had sound problems
running the game with Microsoft's USB Digital Sound System, in that the
opening would play fine, but when it came time to actually play the game
the sound shut down. We're not sure if this is a game thing or yet another
Windows thing, however, 'cause we've had some strange audio problems with
other software played through the DSS under Windows 98 as well. The sound
was fine under a pre-release version of Windows 2000, except that the
game itself would crash and throw you out scant seconds after getting
Still, Star Trek fans
will undoubtedly flock to Starfleet Command - and will probably enjoy
it a lot.
Tell us at TechnoFile what YOU think