Star Trek: 25th Anniversary

Posted by Joseph Ornelas.
First posted on 23 December 1998. Last updated on 15 May 2011.
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Star Trek: 25th Anniversary
To boldly go where no man has gone before!
Star Trek: 25th Anniversary
Beam us down!
Star Trek: 25th Anniversary
Kirk leads an away mission.
Star Trek: 25th Anniversary
Kirk receives a call for help from an old acquaintance!
Star Trek: 25th Anniversary
Demons are rumored to be attacking the colonists on Pollux V.

Made to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the cult classic Star Trek, Star Trek: 25th Anniversary rings true to the original television series and pays it homage without being just another generic space adventure. In this game and its sequel Star Trek: Judgment Rites, Interplay Productions successfully recreates a world worthy to be in any Star Trek fan's fantasy by combining adventure elements with a starship simulation that does not skimp on inventive gameplay.

"Captain's Log, Stardate 6022.9. We are on route to the Sigma Zhukova system to engage in mock combat exercises with the U.S.S. Republic. Though the U.S.S. Enterprise's primary mission is peaceful exploration, the galaxy holds many surprises. All defensive systems will be set to minimum power and the ship's computer will simulate damage."

You are in charge of the Enterprise, the most famous ship in the history of Starfleet Command. It is up to you to right the intergalactic wrongs, protect the Federation, and boldly go where no man has gone before in a series of missions that test both your wit and command.

While this game is first published in 1992, it has stood the test of time as an example that other license based games should be. Instead of a game in which you simply rehash events that have been modified into a playable format, Star Trek: 25th Anniversary presents you with all new scenarios that run in the same vein as the original television series. Although the game graphics are clearly unspectacular by today's standard, they serve their purpose well. There is never any question about "what is going on" or "who is doing it". The graphics are cartoon like, but they do not detract from the atmosphere of the game. Since the characters are sprite based, they sometimes become blocky and choppy when walking toward or away from the screen. The different background scenes are drawn in good details, though generally they all are very static looking (lack of moving water in a stream).

The digitized voices are available only on the Enhanced CD-ROM version. Playing the CD-ROM version is like acting out as an episode of Star Trek. All of the original cast's voices are captured, and the interaction is just as fast paced and humorous as it is ever. The Enhanced "cinematic multimedia" CD-ROM version also contains additional sound effects and background music as well as a special extended version of the "Vengeance" episode not available in the original Floppy Disk version. The voice cast includes William Shatner (James T Kirk), Leonard Nimoy (Mr Spock), DeForest Kelley (Dr Leonard McCoy), James Doohan (Montgomery Scott), George Takei (Hikaru Sulu), Walter Koenig (Pavel Chekov), and Nichelle Nichols (Nyota Uhura). While there are a few glitches with the speech enhancement (the occasional character speaking with the wrong voice), the overall execution is nearly flawless. Even with a 2X CD-ROM drive there is no significant delay for the speech to load. The sound effects are also true to the original series. Unfortunately, the background music is unable to take advantage of high end wave table soundcards. Still, the enhanced version is a vast improvement over the original version, which only sparsely uses the PC speaker for the rare music and sound effects.

As a holdover from the Floppy Disk version, the CD-ROM version retains the copy protection in the form of a star chart inside the instruction manual. This chart must be used in order to choose the correct destination star system for each mission. This is a simple but effective copy protection scheme that fits well into the context of the game, unlike the traditional but tiresome "find the fifth word on the third page" routine. The only obnoxious problem with the setup is the near inability to make the game run on any computer with hardware settings that do not exactly match the defaults set for the game. It is impossible to change the IRQ and DMA settings for the soundcard without resulting in either complete silence or frequent lockups during play. You must also create your own boot disk (if one is required) since a boot disk maker is not provided.

Gameplay is split into 2 main segments—away team ground missions to planets and other ships and starship simulation onboard the Enterprise. The game is even categorized as an adventure or simulation. Game control during ground missions deviate only slightly from other icon based adventure games. The action menu is cumbersome, spreading the action icons unevenly around various members of the landing party. Though it can be brought up quickly by a right click, there are keyboard shortcuts which some players may find more to their liking. There are 5 distinct possible actions--walk, look, talk, get, and use. All actions except the last one are self-explanatory. The "use" action is a catch all term that denotes any interaction with either the entire away team or its inventory. The inventory is a pool of all objects carried by all members of the away team, which consists of Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and other nameless members. When you choose to use an object, the appropriate character is automatically selected to carry out the action, such as Spock for scanning and McCoy for medical procedure. Overriding this automatic selection is possible by treating the characters as inventory objects, but this choice may not always be wise. It is also possible to use inventory objects on each other. Free movement is allowed anywhere there is a place to stand. Occasionally, a doorway to another room is situated in an odd place, making it easy to miss, but "looking" or "scanning" a room usually locates any existing exit. Control while commanding the Enterprise is even more cumbersome, forcing you to switch from controlling the ship to clicking on the different bridge crew members in order to carry out different actions. This awkward control can be highly detrimental during combat, even though keyboard shortcuts are again in place for any quick paced actions required on the bridge. Actual steering of the ship is done with a mouse, using a simple yet useful sensor or radar for locating other, possibly hostile, ships in the area. Whenever you talk to someone, either on a planet or from the ship, you are usually given 2 or more responses from which to choose. These responses must be chosen carefully, or you may find yourself having to fight your way out of a situation. The choices of response start out easy to make, and get gradually harder as the game progresses.

There are 7 episodes in the game, with some episodes split into multiple parts. These episodes are Demon World, Hijacked, Love's Labor Jeopardized, Another Fine Mess, Trial and Errors, That Old Devil Moon, and Vengeance. While each episode presents a challenging problem on its own, the episodes do not tie into each other very well. Though some characters are repeatedly presented (Elasi Pirates) throughout the game, others make only a single appearance and are never heard from again. To an incredibly limited extent, early episodes only play a small part in later ones. While the game builds to a satisfactory conclusion, one can not help but wish that it is more all encompassing. Most episodes feature a short space battle and all contain a ground mission. Each episode obviously ends if the Enterprise is destroyed or captured. There are many ways to complete or fail a ground mission. The only way to lose the game while attempting a ground mission is by allowing Kirk, Spock, or McCoy to be killed (it is all or none). Although other red shirt security officers may seem expendable, their survival is worth points at the end of the mission when Starfleet Command gives you an evaluation. The better your evaluation, the more commendation points you earn.

While a highpoint of this game is certainly to hear all new dialogs from the original Star Trek cast, the game itself is not to be scoffed at either. The missions are made more realistic by the existence of multiple solutions to puzzles and the ability to continue even after obvious failure. Plenty of save slots permit backtracking and averting mission failures easier and less tiresome. For flight simulator fans, this game also makes a strong showing with its simple yet elegant interface for piloting the Enterprise. The only lowpoint of this game is that the gameplay suffers from an uneven level of difficulty, especially in several space combats where you are quickly thrown into battles without warning against two ships or Romulan ships with cloaking devices. Some missions require you to perform extensive research using the Enterprise's onboard computer, which lacks any semblance of user friendliness. Again, the main story comes off as a bit fragmented with several quasi-related pieces.

Overall, Star Trek: 25th Anniversary is an absolute must game for any fan of Star Trek. While gamers who are less familiar with the Star Trek saga may find it hard to relate to the game, this is true for all games that are based on the Star Trek license and it is not a direct fault of this one. Still, anyone looking for a good, entertaining sci-fi game with a little of everything needs to look no further than this.

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