For Elite Force though the Trek license was entrusted to Raven Software, the people who brought the world Heretic and Soldier of Fortune (and would later go on to make Jedi Knight II). So of course they decided to take a series about a group of enlightened pacifists who travel through the stars trying to solve problems with diplomacy and reason, and turned it into a first person shooter with the tagline "SET PHASERS™ TO FRAG".
They could've made a Mass Effect style RPG or a Walking Dead style adventure game, but nope, it's a pure FPS built with the Quake III engine. So let's see how well that worked out for them.
(Most pictures can be clicked to enlarge, though they'll still be covered in ugly nasty jpeg compression artifacts.)
This may look like a some kind of warp core startup screen, but don't let the fact that it even says 'warp core startup' on the bottom fool you, this is the new game options. They've kindly given me a Mass Effect style choice of playing as either Alexander or Alexandria Munro, which is cool, assuming it's not just the same guy in drag.
And then Ritual Entertainment went and spoiled it in Elite Force II by dropping Alexandria (to presumably save hiring another actor), retroactively making the male version the only 'real' character. Classy.
Apparently our hero, (I chose Alexander) is part of a special forces security team on the Federation starship Voyager, and he's gotten separated from his team while on a 'dangerous mission', so we're entering the story in medias res.
I'm still a little vague on what Munro is actually here to do, but breaking this Biessman guy out of his cell can't hurt. Probably. The guy reminds me of Biff Tannen from Back to the Future though, so I'm tempted to leave him there.
THREE MINUTES LATER.
There's no regenerating health or shields in this by the way, instead I need to find these Half-Life style wall terminals to recharge. I'm on Normal difficulty though and the Borg don't have guns, so I barely ever need to. I just need to unload a few shots their way before they walk into me and I'm fine. Unlike regular zombies I don't even need to aim for the head.
Still, there's still some surviving crew members held prisoner behind a forcefield, so it's not quite a total loss yet. Give me 2 minutes though, I'll fix that.
Didn't work though; they all blow up and die. Ooops.
Lt. Tuvok, my boss, makes it clear that he's disappointed with Alex for not following procedure, and says the mission might have been a success if he had. He doesn't actually explain what the procedure is though, so Alex decides to follow him down the corridor for a bit and inquire how he could have know that shooting a panel would blow them all up.
By the way these faces are actually animated textures and they don't have a lot of frames. Alex tends to end up twitching a lot when he talks.
By the way, I can't say I'm impressed with Janeway's 3d model. The rest of the characters have been recognisable enough, but she doesn't even look vaguely like Kate Mulgrew.
|NOT IN GAME FOOTAGE!|
If this was a TV episode, this'd be a great time to cut to the main titles.
Design Lead Christopher Foster... hey, there was a character in Munro's team called Foster. Wow, the next guy in the credits is called 'Monroe'.
Hang on, I'm looking through the credits, and it seems that half the game's characters* are named after the developers. Even my buddy Biessman is named after a guy who worked on the multiplayer. Oh and he really is played by Tom Wilson (Biff from Back to the Future)! I KNEW he sounded just like him.
Hey wait, you can't let me come up here to the bridge and then just send me off again before I've even had a chance to jump onto the control panels. I ain't leaving until I've looked around.
Like you'd probably never get to see where that passageway on the top right goes in the actual series (my guess would have been the toilets), but from this angle you can clearly see it leads... right into a wall.
Also, shut up Tuvok. You're not my boss! Oh wait, he is. Damn, I guess I'd better head on over to Engineering then... right now.
A FEW MINUTES LATER.
Oh by the way, the bridge viewscreen in this is actually holographic, with the view changing depending on what angle you're facing it from. Not sure if that's how it works in the series, but it's a nice effect.
10 SECONDS LATER, IN A PRISON CELL.
Can't believe I have to load a save game just for hanging around and seeing what the sets look like in the Quake III engine.
LATER, ON MY WAY TO ENGINEERING.
Still, it could be worse. The first time around I tried leaving the forcefield off to see what'd happen, and the whole corridor went up in flames. Oh okay fine, I'll reload again and save his life. It doesn't make a damn bit of difference to the story, but it's the Starfleet thing to do!
Half-Life. Next they'll be hiding head crabs in the vents.
Well I've sorted out the engineering issue. Turns out they just wanted me to press a couple of buttons to stop the ship from exploding, but that's done and now Tuvok wants me to take care of alien intruders trying to raid our supplies.
A FEW MISSIONS LATER.
Uh, thanks Doc, but I'm fine. Seriously, I've got 85 health, that's more than enough. Hey, keep your glitchy holographic hands off me, man!
It turns out that the ship is trapped in a void, with little hope of getting back to normal space even on a good day, and we're surrounded by hostile aliens even more desperate than we are who rely on raiding newcomers for their very survival. Funnily enough there was a Voyager episode aired a few months after this based around the exact same set up, called 'The Void'. I never saw it myself, but I'm guessing it has less first person shooting and more lengthy speeches about upholding the ideals of Starfleet and the need for cooperation. I bet the guest star of the week doesn't even jump all over Janeway's couch.
He got as far as a turbolift, but after we stepped inside he just stopped there and waited silently. Either he didn't want me to know where he was going, or he's part of the conspiracy keeping me trapped on this floor. The lifts don't work for me you see, as the developers had better things to do than model all 15 floors of the ship from bow to stern just so I could go exploring.
We stared at each other across the turbolift for a while, but it was clear he wasn't going to be the first to break, so I gave up and stepped back out into the corridor. The doors closed behind me, so I opened them again and... he was gone. There was a lift there, but the alien was nowhere to be seen. I guess that's why they're called turbolifts.
This is old school 'strafe left and right while spraying enemies with bullets' first person shooting by the way. Hiding behind cover won't regenerate your health and going for headshots isn't going to help. Not that I'm complaining, though personally I'd take a nice solid modern semi-automatic over a blobby alien ray-shooter any day.
SOME SNEAKING LATER.
I've always thought that the concept of space pirates welding together broken bits of spaceship to make some new space vehicle to be totally and absolutely dumb, because these things are precision made pieces of hardware built to exacting specifications and put through rigorous simulations and testing before being considered space-worthy. If you start cutting bits off and welding other bits on it's not likely to hold together in the way you were hoping for. But I think they've managed to pull the concept off this time... by making this makeshift space station a total shithole that seems like it's one slammed door away from a catastrophic hull breach.
And I plan to go find that door and slam it.
These guys are actually from the mirror universe, where everything is backwards, good is evil, and Spock has a goatee. Doesn't make any sense to me why they'd be in this dimension, a hundred years or so into their future, and deep in the ass end of the galaxy, but I guess the developers are working off the Rule of Cool here.
I decided to sneak around a bit in here and try pressing some stuff, and accidentally set off an explosion. Yeah yeah, I know, procedure says don't play around with strange computer panels, I remember what happened on the Borg ship. But you know, I think it works out better this way for everyone; I get to screw around with things I don't understand and continually blow shit up, and he gets to be condescending, smug and superior about it later when he's telling me off. Everyone's happy.
Oh wait, I've figured it out. He may be ridiculously tough while he's glowing, but that golden shield of his eventually wears off for a few seconds, giving me a chance to send a few grenades over. All I need to do is hide avoid getting shot until I get my chances to shoot him back. Easy.
Plus he dropped his gun when he died, which helped make the journey back brief and colourful, as I held the fire button down and skipped gleefully through corridors echoing with the sound of a million plasma bolts a second and the screams of dying Klingons. Don't worry, I'm sure it was a good day for them to die.
But who should I invite to this deathmatch? Well I have to bring Gowron, I mean look at the guy! Desperado looks pretty badass and/or drunk so he can come too. Gotta have Janeway... oh, and Neelix obviously.
Elite Force doesn't really sit in the top tier of first person shooters for me, but it's a surprisingly decent basic action game. It's faithful to the Trek license without being dragged down by it into suffocating blandness, the characters are bearable, and the story is... well, we're not talking Bioshock Infinite here but it's better than Soldier of Fortune at least. Plus Voyager fans get to walk around all the sets from the series, though that might not actually be the selling point you'd think it'd be. The ship turns out to be pretty miserable and repetitive inside for the most part, with endless identical grey corridors, and everywhere you go you get shouted at by the main cast for interrupting their episode.
But yeah, it's actually pretty enjoyable for what it is and I wouldn't mind playing through more of it, so it's earned a shiny star.
Feel free to leave comments, give your own opinion on the game, point out all the Star Trek things I got wrong again, etc. It's always a pleasure getting feedback from intelligent life.