And, hallelujah, you canít find a more entertaining one either. After a string of decidedly weak Trek
games, Raven Software comes out with a definite winner. Itís not perfect, but itís a hell of an entertaining ride.
Now, I must warn you all: I am not a big fan of ďStar Trek.Ē I watched the cartoon remakes of the original show on Nickelodeon when I was a kid, I watched a little of ďThe Next Generation,Ē but not much. I caught a good bit of the beginning of ďDeep Space 9Ē only because my friend watched it and I usually hung out at his house. And Iíve seen maybe four-fifths of an episode of ďVoyager.Ē
That being said, I still enjoyed Elite Force. Thatís a good sign, folks. When someone uninitiated in the series can be dropped in and enjoy themselves, youíve got a winner on your hands.
You take the part of Alexandria or Alexander Munro (depending on what gender you pick), a member of the Hazard Team; a new group invented by the Security Officer of the Voyager. After a stint in a decidedly cool way to get you into the game, Bad Things Happen. Before you know it, the Voyager is transported into some sort of ship graveyard, badly damaged. And, naturally, all hell breaks loose.
The game consists of quite a few missions into various alien ships, and a few on the Voyager itself. As a general rule, the missions are run-and-gun, but one of the sequences has a very cool Thief-like feel to it that endeared me to the game even more than before. Thereís something about skulking around an ancient Bird of Prey and dodging Klingon guards thatís decidedly entertaining.
From the get-go, the game makes you act both sensibly and speedily. You can make choices to save lives, perhaps at personal risk, or you can play it safe. The choice is yours. It doesnít really affect the outcome of the game much, but itís always cool to save a limping space crew member from imminent death.
As said before, however, most of your time will be spent blowing the crap out of things. There are nine weapons and two different kinds of ammo. You can recharge your Energy and your Health at stations in the various levels which is a handy way to not need med-packs or the equivalent. Most of the weapons are beam-based, which means that youíll be seeing lots of pretty lights as you nuke the bad guys. There are some definite exceptions -- the Green Chaingun oí Doom, as I call it, is pleasantly solid and death-dealing -- but most of what youíll be using looks like youíd expect a Star Trek weapon to look. And your teammates help you (or at least try), attacking enemies and barking out suggestions and the occasional painful scream. Elite Force does it right -- they canít die unless the plot dictates that they do, so any stupid A.I. tricks donít mess up your game.
Because of the setting of the game, youíre generally running around in places that look very similar as you go between the rooms. As a level goes on, it starts to wear on you. By the end of the level, I felt that perhaps it was one segment too long, one room too large. I understand the limitations of both the Star Trek world and making a starship consistent, but it starts to wear thin as you play through the game.
There are some odd glitches, too. Sometimes the people wonít go on the teleport pad so that you can progress. At other times, your teammates will start attacking you even though you didnít hit them. And at one point near the end of the game, my teammates got stuck in the middle of the air (itís a plot thing), and didnít move until I beat the rest of the area myself. At that point they magically transported to be on my side. Yeah. Okay. Sometimes the captions displayed during the cinemas were the wrong text as well.
But despite all that, Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force works well. Itís a little short for my tastes -- I beat it in one long sitting -- but itís always entertaining. The act of naming each area of the game like an episode is definitely cool, as it gives you a hint of whatís to come even as the levels are loading. And with a solid if hackneyed plotline and good voice acting, at times, it really does feel more like a show or movie and less like a game... until you pull out the big guns.
There is multiplayer support, but chances are itís nothing you havenít seen before. Imagine Quake III with different levels, rather unbalanced weaponry, and Star Trek characters, and youíve got an excellent idea of just how the Holomatches are going to be. It fails to be as entertaining as either Q3A or Unreal Tournament, but itís certainly worth a little play. Chances are great, however, that you wonít be sticking with it. There are too many games that did it better.