Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force
One of the best games to use the Quake 3 game engine on the PC was Star Trek: Voyager Elite Force. Not only was it a very good FPS game in it's own right but it also felt like a Star Trek game, something few, if any, previous Star Trek titles have managed. Unlike the games based on The Next Generation series it also had a full compliment of characters. Do you remember games such as Hidden Evil? Only Data and Picard were present and yet it was supposed to be a Next Generation game. No such skimping was to be seen in Elite Force where all Voyagers characters were included and gave the game a very authentic feel.
Of course it is always worrying when a PC game is ported to the PS2. Recently we looked at Soldier of Fortune Gold Edition and to be fair it was poor. Bad framerate, poor graphics and about average in every other department. Elite Force shares some of these faults unfortunately, but has elements which distract you from it's limitations.
Whilst on it's return journey to the Alpha Quadrant, Voyager answers a distress signal only to find that it's a trap. When Voyager arrives at the source of the signal, they find a vessel. They decide to scan the vessel but unfortunately it activates a self defence mechanism and the vessel opens fire on Voyager. Voyager destroys the vessel by firing photon torpedoes at it but the explosion sends Voyager hurtling over a great distance into an unknown area of space. What's more it appears to be a graveyard for spacecraft and just to make things worse there are many races there and some are familiar enemies. Faced with this precarious position, Lt. Commander Tuvok is asked to assemble a Hazard Team to primarily protect the crew and find a way out of the graveyard that they find themselves in.
You play Ensign Alex Munro (Alexander if you choose to be male and Alexandria if you choose to be female and it has no bearing on the game at all which is a shame). You are part of Tuvok's Hazard Team and along with your fellow Hazard Team mates you have the job of getting Voyager out of this mess. The game makes good use of this teamwork and for 95% of the game you actually feel part of a team and not the solitary renegade like you do in most FPS games. In fact only the last part of the game (of which I'll say nothing) calls for you to be on your own and it feels out of character with the rest of the game.
The weapons that you'll come across during the game are impressive. The most impressive of all though is the I-MOD, a weapon that Seven of Nine developed that keeps adjusting its energy frequency so that the Borg (Yes you'll come across them) shields cannot not adjust to it. Of course there's the standard Phaser, Phaser Compression Rifle, Scavenger Weapon and many more.
Your initial task is to free your Hazard Team pals from the clutches of the Borg. It turns out to be a Holodeck training exercise but nevertheless it is an excellent introduction to the game. Additional races you will encounter in the game include the Klingons, Etherians, Scavengers and the Harvesters. The game has a good amount of variety and at no point do you feel that you're replaying an earlier part of the game, something that is all too common in modern FPS games.
Thankfully the game is mostly subtitled. I say mostly because oddly enough it doesn't show any subtitles for your character's speech, which is strange to say the least. It can make character responses to you seem odd too. The subtitles are accompanied by a picture of the character that is talking so it is clear to see who is talking to you. One complaint I would make of the subtitles is that they don't stay onscreen long enough for you to comfortably read them. You are warned textually of changes to mission objectives, which can be accessed any time by pressing the circle button. The suitability for a deaf gamer, overall, is quite good, but it's a shame that the faults we've pointed out couldn't have been put right.
Like most PC to PS2 ports there are a few flies in the ointment and Elite Force is no exception. Graphically the game is only average. This wouldn't be such a problem except for the fact the framerate is rarely stable and hinders your aiming. For the first time ever I tried to play a PS2 game with a USB mouse and keyboard to discount the controller when comparing it to the PC version. Whilst the mouse provided more accurate aiming than the gamepad, the poor framerate still caused problems. If PC games are going to continue to be ported to the PS2 then something has to be done about optimising the game. The single player game, whilst engrossing, doesn't actually last that long and can be completed in 2 or 3 nights. Of course this wouldn't be so bad if the multiplayer side of the game was up to scratch but with only four players maximum and no AI bots to make the numbers up it is a pale imitation of the PC version and will fail to hold your attention for even the smallest amount of time.
Elite Force is a decent game that could have been so much better on the PS2. Unfortunately the faults that do exist with the game are significant and unless you are a Star Trek Voyager nut you're going to disappointed.
Overall Game Rating: 6.8/10 A great PC title that hasn't been ported to the PS2 very well.
Deaf Gamers comment: Munro's comments are unsubtitled and whilst the other characters comments are subtitled they don't remain onscreen long enough.