Star Trek Away Team
Activision £29.99 PC CD-ROM Out Now
This game requires the following:
Pentium 2 266MHz or above
64MB of RAM
500MB of hard disk space.
Over the last couple of years the reputation of the Star Trek games has been somewhat enhanced. Gone are the days when the Star Trek games paled in comparison to their Star Wars counterparts. Activision has been one of main reasons in this turn around. Last year we had the excellent Voyager - Elite Force and before that we had the very underrated Hidden Evil adventure game. Does Star Trek Away Team continue this trend? Let's take a look.
Anyone familiar with Commandos - Behind Enemy lines will instantly be at home with STAW. Taking a team of upto six specialists you must complete 18 missions that range from encountering Romulans, Klingons and even the dreaded Borg (not until level 7 thank goodness). The game view is the classic 2D isometric one that has become so popular in strategy games and RPGs alike. Instead of having separate tutorials like Commandos, STAW has rather cleverly used Commander Data to issue you with advice for part of mission one. The instructions are all provided textually and it only takes about five minutes to feel comfortable with the interface. Speaking of which the interface is very clean and easy to use. The major improvements STAW has over other games of this nature is that the interface is a breeze to learn and does not frustrate in anyway at all. If you are not happy with the shortcut keys you can redefine them and you even have the option to map any weapon/items you want to a key.
Although the characters in the game (except for Worf and Data) are created purposely for the game, it does succeed in feeling genuine and that in itself is worthy of praise. On most missions you get to select the members who make up the away team. It is here that another nice feature of the game interface shows itself. On team selection screen (on the top right of the screen) you are told of the items that are required to complete the mission. Each away team member has a specific inventory and the idea is that you pick the members who are carrying the relevant items. At first this seemed a little daunting until I realised that by clicking on the needed item/s it automatically points to a member who is carrying that particular item/s. Subsequent click on the item/s cycles through other members who are carrying that item.
pics for the full view.
The atmosphere within the game is fantastic and it has a genuine stealthy feel to it. Although this is a different style of game to Elite Force it does have the same feeling of excitement and tension. The action can be paused and orders can be issued in pause mode which, believe me, is a godsend and allows you to think about your options and negates the need to move the mouse at the speed of light. Another nice feature particularly for deaf gamers is the ability to visually see the amount of noise your away team is making. This is an innovation which makes the game very playable for deaf gamers (unlike Commandos which doesn't do this) as you can see, with the aid of blue sound arcs, in which direction the sound is travelling. Mission goals range from rescuing Data to obtaining the information from computers. Fans of the game Commandos will be pleased to know that the difficulty level is not as stupidly difficult as it was in that game. Most people will feel that the easy difficulty is comfortable and encourages you to get deeper into the game without getting frustrated.
The only disappointment for deaf gamers is that certain little pieces of information are not provided textually. An example of this is that when I tried to use an engineer on a console it did not tell me textually that he needed to use his repair skill whereas verbally it did. Also I can't find a way to recall the conversation messages that pop up. These are minor quibbles and don't prevent you from really enjoying the game but it is a shame as so much has been done to benefit deaf gamers visual/textual needs. Another point on which the game could have been improved is that of character interaction. In Baldur's Gate it is very interesting to see the characters developing and expressing opinions of each other (a similar thing happened in Elite Force) and this would have been nice to see. Multiplayer is only available over a LAN and is pretty much the same as the single player game except the players share the away team members.
This game is a quality addition to Activision's Star Trek catalogue and is a must for all Star Trek fans. The game feels like Star Trek and never attempts to do something that is out of character. Even non-Star Trek fans will find that there is a very good stealth/strategy game here and will be pleased by the greater ease of use over games like Commandos. Is it the best Star Trek game yet? Well its as good as Voyager - Elite Force so it really comes down to which genre you prefer.
Overall Game Rating: 8¾/10 A very worthy addition to the Star Trek collection of games.
Quality of text: 9/10 Very good. A few minor omissions but still very good.
Graphics: 8/10 The graphics are good at normal zoom.
Interface: 9/10 A very good interface indeed.
Gameplay: 9/10 Very absorbing. There is none of the frustration that has dogged previous games of this nature.