Star Trek: Judgment Rites

Posted by Zack Howe.
First posted on 28 August 1999. Last updated on 15 May 2011.
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Star Trek: Judgment Rites
This game is among the long line of games based on the Star Trek license.
Star Trek: Judgment Rites
Kirk and his team are aboard on a space station.
Star Trek: Judgment Rites
Kirk leads an away mission.
Star Trek: Judgment Rites
Kirk is on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise.
Star Trek: Judgment Rites
Beam us down!

Remember the good old days when we watch the classic episodes of Star Trek, just about every day we get ready for a new adventure with Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty, Uhura, Checkov, and Sulu? Have you ever hoped that you can have an adventure with the original Star Trek crew on your computer? If you have, then your dream can come true with Star Trek: Judgment Rites. This is because playing this game for the first time feels like being in a brand new Star Trek episode.

Rather than having a single plot, the story of Star Trek: Judgment Rites basically unfolds over a bunch of episodes that you play to get to the end of the game. The main plot has Kirk and his crew trying to find the whereabouts of a mysterious alien race called the Brassica. Kirk first learns about this race in the episode "Light And Darkness". Over 8 episodes, the crew meets many old friends and old enemies, including the Klingons. In the final episode, Kirk must come face to face with the Brassica and undergo the ultimate "judgement rite" to see if the human race is worthy to befriend the Brassica.

All the graphics in Star Trek: Judgment Rites are in 256 colors. While they are not up to par when compared with today's standard, they are state of the art for its time when the game is released. Personally, I think the graphics are still very pretty even today. The designers clearly show off their artistic prowess as much as they can throughout the game. The game uses a classic point and click interface that is simple and effective. The simplicity is a definite welcome for the novice or causal gamers who just want a cursory Star Trek experience. The original Floppy Disk version does not include voices and all the cinematic scenes. These are available as a separate "Movie & Sound Pack Add-on" for the game. The add-on contains more than 10MB of added sound effects, cinematic scenes and cuts, and new story transition sequences. A Limited CD-ROM Collector's Edition is also subsequently released. The game includes a collector's disc that features interactive interviews with Gene Roddenberry and Leonard Nimoy as well as a behind-the-scenes video "The Making of Star Trek: Judgment Rites". The limited edition includes a collector's cloisonné pin and a VHS video featuring an original Star Trek episode City On The Edge Of Forever. Installation of the game is very simple. You can choose what sound system you want for both music and speech playbacks.

The gameplay is simple but entertaining. Even though the episodes are all very linear, they are still enjoyable to play through. Choosing among the responses during a conversation with other game characters is fun. There are a lot of conversation paths to take. When you choose a particular response for Captain Kirk, the result depends on whether or not the character with whom you are conversing like your reply. You can use either the escape key or a keyboard shortcut (such as "L" for look and "W" for walk) to activate a command, including walking, looking at an item or a place, using something in your inventory, or talking to a character or a member of your away team. A nice feature is that when you look around your environment, a female voice explains in detail what you are looking at. This voice is the narrator and your guide in the game. The same voice also helps you to restore the game to the last place you have visited whenever you need to restart the game. Settings are available to you to choose the level of difficulty you want for the space combat sequences. You can even choose the option to have no space combat at all. I suggest that you choose this latter option if you do not like any action play in your adventure gaming. There are not many movie sequences within the game, and the ones that are there are extremely short. It is obvious that the designers want you to focus on the gameplay and not the eye candy.

There are quite a lot to rave about in this game. First is the fact that the entire cast of the classic Star Trek series has led their voices to this game. You get to hear the voices of William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Deforest Kelly, James Doohan, George Takei, Walter Koenig, and Nichelle Nichols. You even get to hear the voice of the U.S.S. Enterprise Computer that is the voice of Majel Barrett. It is truly rewarding to hear their voices. They make you feel that you are actually participating in an episode of Star Trek instead of just watching one. Second is the beautiful graphics in this game. They are colorful and perfectly fit to the mood of each episode in the game. Third is the refreshing conversation mode. It is great fun picking among all choices available and seeing which is the right response. This part can be a bit challenging as it often makes you wonder in hindsight if you have chosen the right response. Last is the extended length of the game. It takes me almost a week of heavy playing to finish the game, so anyone who loves a long adventure should enjoy this title.

On the downside, this game has a couple of problems. The first problem is the disappearing sounds. Occasionally, the speech turns itself off when a member of the away team crew is about to speak. It then comes right back on when I press the enter key. The second problem is the inconsistent graphics. While animations of the ships and the planets are beautiful to look at, the faces of the Enterprise crew are not. All the faces are quite pixelated. These problems are relatively minor and do not significantly detract you from the game.

Overall, Star Trek: Judgment Rites is among the best adventure games based on the Star Trek license I have ever played. I suggest that you get the Limited CD-ROM Collector's Edition, if not for the game then for the value as a collector's item. I wholeheartedly recommend this game to anyone who wants a true interactive Star Trek experience.

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