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Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force

Score: 85%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Raven Software
Media: CD/1
Players: 1 - 32
Genre: Action/ First Person Shooter/ Online

Graphics & Sound:

Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force uses the Quake III engine, so youíd expect the game to look nice. In fact, it looks even better than Quake III did. The levels are more complex and detailed, the character models seem to have more polys, and the FMV is top notch.

All the quality comes with a price, however. Running the game in 800x600 in 32bit color drops quite a few frames in a firefight, which Quake III: Arena never did. The gameís simply more graphically intensive, which is certainly a Good Thing, but if you donít have a pretty new machine, you must be prepared to set your resolution lower than youíd expect.

That aside, Elite Force does some very cool things with graphics. The various characters actually have facial expressions and you can see them talk, smile, close their eyes, and everything. It looks a little stilted at first, but the amount of characterization that you can see with the facial expressions more than make up for any awkwardness. The character models do tend to jerk around a bit and move a little unnaturally, but thatís a minor gripe.

As for the sound, the music feels straight out of the Star Trek universe. Of course, some of it is. The rest has that same John Williams-ish epic sweep to it. Good stuff. The sound effects are good, if not particularly fascinating -- youíll hear lots of laser-ish sounds since most of the weapons are beam-based. The voice-acting, on the other hand, is generally top notch. Most of the characters from the show reprise their roles in this game (Jeri Ryan as Seven of Nine being a notable absence), and they sound just as professional here as they do in the TV series. The various characters created for the game have good voice actors as well, even if they are a little bit more boisterous than they need to be sometimes.

You certainly canít find a better game-based representation of the Star Trek world than the one in Elite Force.


Gameplay:

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.


Difficulty:

You can pick your difficulty level at the beginning of the game. Normal is pretty standard, and I made it through the game only dying a few times. As the difficulty goes up, enemy counts and damage go up, and yours goes down. Eep. The levels themselves are never particularly difficult, and all of the puzzles are pretty much immediately solvable. If you look around carefully, thereís little chance that youíll ever get stuck in a location. Just be thorough.

Game Mechanics:

The best controls for a game of this type are the mouse-and-keyboard combo, and Elite Force is no exception. I had a few problems with the game thinking that I kept moving after I let go of a key, but that seemed to crop up more in the early game and less in the endgame. You can set every key to anything you please, which is definitely handy. The menus are clear and understandable, with all the suitable Trek number-and-color weirdness that youíve come to expect. And the save and load mechanism is easy to operate, if a little confusing at first.

Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force is the first Star Trek game in a long time that genuinely rekindled my interest in the various series. It has its problems, but with a highly entertaining single player scenario thatís as true to the Trek world as anything as ever been, and a mildly entertaining multiplayer option thatíll get a few minutes of your play, youíre looking at a rather solid shooter. Star Trek fans have already bought it, but for those of us who arenít, let me assure you that thereís more than enough gaming goodness in here that requires no comprehension of the Trek universe. All in all, Elite Force is a highly entertaining shooter that deserves a good look and perhaps a buy from every fan of the genre.


-Sunfall to-Ennien, GameVortex Communications
AKA Phil Bordelon

Minimum System Requirements:



P2 233/AMD K6-2 350, 64MB RAM, 3D Hardware Accelerator w/OpenGL, 650MB HD Space, 4X CD-ROM, Soundcard, Mouse
 

Test System:



K6-III 450, 256MB RAM, ATI Rage IIc, SB Live!

Windows The War in Heaven Windows Spec Ops II: Green Berets

 
Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated