Star Trek - Voyager Elite Force
Wednesday 28th February, 2001
March is a long way away for a Mac-using Trekker. Sure, we’re waiting for Mac OS X, but more importantly Voyager season seven comes out on video; we want to know how (not if - we’re not that stupid) Janeway and her crew get the better of the Borg queen. But if the waiting seems too much, then help is at hand. Elite Force, is an ideal placebo for the real thing.
The game itself is a first person shoot-em-up based on the Quake III engine. But the Raven development team and Aspyr, which ported it to the Mac, have produced something slightly outside the envelope of the standard Quake game.
The premise of Elite Force is that Lt Commander Tuvok has assembled a commando squad, the ‘Hazard Team’, for the tougher away missions; obviously, the number of ‘ensigns in red shirt losses’ has been too high. You play the second in command, Alexander Munro, or his female alter ego, Alexandria.
The game begins with you up against that favourite Star Trek Nemesis, the Borg Collective. You’ve been displaced somewhere on a Borg cube, attempting to recover your captured comrades. Right from the start, Elite Force captures the atmosphere, attention to detail, and high production values of the TV show. The background music is excellent, and the Borg drone laser sights playing over the excellently rendered scenery soon gets the old adrenaline pumping. Even the gameplay basics follow the usual Trek rules. Leave them well alone and the Borg will leave you alone - until, that is, they deem you a threat, and then it really kicks off. You’ll need to find some other way of disabling them because, as with the ‘real-life’ Borg, you get two or three shots before they adapt to your weapons.
Having finished the level (a nice, twisted Trek-esque ending there), the inter-level cut-scene has you back on Voyager being debriefed by Tuvok. The before and after cut-scenes probably go some way to making this game as good as it is, providing enough material to ensure that the different levels never have the non-sequitur feeling you sometimes get with traditional first-person shoot-em-ups. You get to interact with each of the major characters, voiced (with the exception of Seven of Nine) by the actors. The renderings of the characters' faces are excellent, right down to Seven’s implants.
There are plenty of the sorts of in-jokes, flashback elements and plot counterpoint that Trekkers love, so it would be wrong to give too much away in terms of plot - which should, of course, be the major feature of any Trek game. There’s also a good number of memorable Voyager baddies scattered throughout the levels, none of which are simply random thoughts or additions, each following the behaviour and in the environment you’d expect. And as with Trek, level resolutions are not always achieved by killing everything - sometimes it’s better to form alliances. Even if you’re not a fan of the show, this isn’t just a straightforward killing spree, as there are plenty of interesting riddles to solve.
However, due to its very nature, the game ‘runs on rails’; you don’t have much influence on how the story plays out across different levels. However, the other members of the Hazard Team (friendly AI bots that go with you on the missions) aren’t just along for the ride; they can open doors, check for lifesigns, analyse data, provide useful clues, and indeed are often required to solve some of the puzzles. The amount of dialogue and interaction ensures each mission feels more like a mini-episode than the fight between cut-scenes. They even help provide a little fire-power, although they’re not as accurate as you when it comes to the killing game.
The weapons available are standard Quake fare, although each has an alternate firing mode, which when used appropriately can make combat (and solving a couple of the puzzles) a little more interesting.
Elite Force is a great game for Trekkers and for first timers to first-person shoot-em-ups. Hardened Quake and Unreal warriors should expect to finish it in a long weekend, but for the money, it’s still an enjoyable experience.
March is a long way away for a Mac-using Trekker. Sure, we’re waiting for Mac OS X, but more importantly Voyager season seven comes out on video; we want to know how (not if - we’re not that stupid) Janeway and her crew get the better of the Borg queen.
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|Pros||Immersive gameplay + Really captures a Star Trek episode atmosphere|
|Cons||Experienced players will finish it in a long weekend|
|Originally Published||MacUser, Volume: 17, Issue: 4, p34|