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Star Trek Armada II

Score: 80%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Mad Doc
Media: CD/1
Players: 1 - 8
Genre: Real-Time Strategy

Graphics & Sound:

Set in space, Star Trek Armada II's graphics are forced to be 3D. Forced may be too harsh a word, though, as the models look very good, even when zoomed all the way in. The ships should be easily recognizable, even to those who aren't fans of the Star Trek universe. With not much in the way of a background (space is pretty black), more emphasis is put on the objects floating around in space, like nebulae, asteroids, and planets. Though not everything is proportional (the Enterprise would be about the size of America if they were), the scheme fits together nicely and shouldn't draw any complaints.

Equally as impressive are the sound effects. First and foremost are the voiceovers. Any trekkie worth his salt should immediately recognize the commanding voice of Patrick Stewart, a.k.a. Captain Picard. Hearing him talk as you order around the Enterprise gives the game a little bit more authenticity, making the experience just that much more enjoyable. The only beef I have with the voice acting is that there doesn't seem to be enough tracks. With the mass amount of clicking I do, hearing Picard (or anyone for that matter) say the same thing over and over again can get a little sore on the ears. As for the sound effects, they sound like they're taken straight out of the show (or movies, take your pick). You really can't ask for anything better here.


With the Star Trek franchise at your fingertips, there's really not many ways to go wrong when making a game. The universe is already there for you to use, with storyline, characters, and vehicles included. The only thing really worth worrying about is the gameplay. Though Star Trek Armada II meets the former challenges well, the latter may seem slightly flawed for some.

The plot revolves around the Borg, who are inhabiting seemingly uninhabitable worlds. It's the Federation's job to find out what they're doing and to get rid of them. Though there are six different species in the game, there are only Campaigns for three of them: the Federation, Klingons, and the Borg. Multiplayer will allow you to fly under the banner of any race, including the Romulans, Cardassians, and Species 8472, and supports up to eight players. The missions ease you into the game, giving you menial tasks at first, then later on ramping up the action. Nothing spectacular, but it works.

The gameplay is not unlike that of Homeworld's, with your area of operations be a cubic chunk of outer space. There is a relative middle plane, but you can deviate up or down (or is it down or up?) from this plane if you so choose. Unlike Homeworld, you seem more restricted to this middle plane, as it is a guide for you to place your buildings.

Resources are a bit different from your normal RTS, but thankfully aren't too complicated and give some new life to an old system. Floating around in space are dilithium spheres, which can be mined for dilithium, an essential resource used for warp drives. A planet will yield metal and people, depending on its class. Metal is used on most everything, and people are used to man the ships. The last resource is latinum, which is acquired by building a trading station. Once built, it will attract Ferengi traders, which will in turn increase your latinum count.

Combat is everything you'd expect from a RTS, with a few little additions. A ship's crew plays an integral role in combat, as a highly crewed ship will shoot faster, and can withstand boarding parties better. If one of your ships is down on crew, personnel can be transferred ship to ship. There are also designated assault ships that will weaken an enemy's shield and then send its boarding party over to capture it. This is not a sure bet though, as each race has different skills when it comes to man-to-man combat.

Ship management takes on an almost new meaning in this game. There are so many different things concerning ship status that it might overwhelm some. No longer does a single health bar reside over the top of each ship. Instead, it is broken into four parts, each representing a different system. You usually have to zoom in all the way to see them clearly, which is a drain on the action.

Ship attitudes for movement, attacking, and special weapon control are each broken into three stages. Trying to know each status and attitude for every ship is downright impossible, but a lot of the weight is taken off when ships are assigned to fleets. Fleets are simply the groups you can put ships in, using the numbers 1 through 9. The attitude you set for one ship in a fleet will carry over to every ship in that fleet, making the management job a little bit easier.


A very ambitious game, Star Trek Armada II will probably be easier for the trekkies out there, simply because they will feel more at home with everything. For the casual Trek fan, though, getting used to all of the options and how everything works will take some time. The good tutorials and an informative (however thick) instruction book should be able to get anyone playing right away, but mastering it is sure to take much longer.

Game Mechanics:

Probably the first thing you're going to want to master is the 3D environment you're playing in. There are two view modes you can choose to look at space with. Every map you play on is basically a 3 dimensional rectangle, and the first of these views gives you a 2D grid, that is half way between the relative top and bottom of this 3D rectangle. The only hindrance of this view is that you can't rotate the screen, only zoom in and out and pan around the map. The other view is a free rotating view of space. You can do everything here you could do in the other view, except this one is fully rotational and centered on only one point in space, whether it is user defined or tracking a ship. Having to switch from the 3D to the pseudo 2D view in order to get your bearings can become a nuisance very quickly. Combined, these views would have worked much better and created a smoother playing experience.

Moving the ships around in 3D space is much like that of Homeworld's controls. Holding shift and moving the mouse up or down will move the ship that far away from the 2D grid in the middle of the map. Warping ships across the map is possible, but is also a little more difficult than it should be. If there is an object in the way, the ships take too long trying to maneuver left and right of it, totally forgetting that they can go up and down. This isn't too much of a problem, but it will definitely annoy more than a few. Other than that, the control is nothing too far off from any other RTS. Its many hotkeys might be a bit daunting at first, but memorizing them all is not necessary.

Star Trek Armada II may not be genre busting, but it is ambitious. It has its flaws, but it should only turn away the most casual of gamers (or people who hate Star Trek). If you're a fan of the genre, franchise, or both, definitely check it out. Otherwise, just borrow it from that geek next door.

-Snow Chainz, GameVortex Communications
AKA Andrew Horwitz

Minimum System Requirements:

300 MHz processor, Windows 95/98/2000/ME, 64 MB RAM, 4X CD-ROM, 1.3 GB Hard Disk space,

Test System:

Windows 98, 1.4GHz AMD Athlon, GeForce 2 mx 32MB video card, 40 gig hard drive, 56x CD-ROM, 256MB DDR Ram, Sound Blaster Live! sound card, T1 Internet connection

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