I consider myself an odd gamer.
I like to review my games, but more often than not, I find that the sheer amount of sarcasm that courses through my veins can take over and I tend to be more of a critic of games — a harsh one at that — than I otherwise would be if I were just a casual gamer.
However, the cynical attitude I have helps to allow me to rip things apart with ease.
Sadly, it’s days like this that I wish I wasn’t such a cynical bastard when I’m playing games because I just played the new Bethesda game [url=http://au.gamespot.com/pc/sim/startreklegacy/index.html?q=star%20trek%20legacy]Star Trek: Legacy[/url]… and you don’t want to know the levels to which this game truly and utterly sucks.
You don’t. It’s really quite traumatic. Especially for someone who actually likes Star Trek.
You don’t want to know how you’re going to be installing just under 3.20 gb of information to find a game that feels more like it was a quarter completed before Mad Doc and Bethesda rushed it out to make a quick buck.
You don’t want to know that it’s buggy and badly made and how it sounds weak or that the script is shocking or the missions pointless, the multiplayer non-functional, or just that at points your mouse runs away from the game at the sheer sight of how bad this game is.
You really don’t. So I’m not going to tell you how bad it is.
I’m going to describe in agonising details how pitiful this game is and ask the question every few paragraphs “Why the hell did they allow this thing to be packaged up and sold to consumers?!”
First let’s start with the good things. There aren’t a whole lot so we’ll get through this paragraph or two quite quickly.
The idea behind the game is a good one, especially if you’re a fan of the series. The premise is that you’ll follow a story through all of the Star Trek series arcs that have taken place, starting with Captain Archer (Quantum Leap’s Scott Bakula) and the Enterprise NX-01 to the classic Captain Kirk (William Shatner) and the real Enterprise through to Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) then to Deep Space Nine’s Sisko (Avery Brooks) and finally ending up with Voyager’s Janeway (Kate Mulgrew).
Sound good so far? It gets better.
You’ll be controlling the ships and creating your own mini-fleet as you battle Romulans and Klingons and The Borg in a story involving Vulcan-logic and Borg-assimilation. You’ll get to control the Enterprises and the Defiant and about any other class ship you can think of and it’ll all be done in 3d in nice graphics and it’ll rock and… yeah… I’m beginning to lose patience for this crap too.
So, as I was saying before, here are the good things:
The graphics don’t suck as much as I expected they would. Sure, they’re not the most brilliant of graphics compared to a lot of games coming out, but they’re actually pretty attractive depending on your config. On my ATI X800, they looked better-than-decent, and I was quite surprised by that. Ships seem to display a sense of depth and volume, more so than most Trek games seem to give off. Even the space phenomena like nebulae look good.
The spatial rifts look stupid, but I guess you can’t win them all.
The music isn’t bad. It’s very repetitive, but it’s all your typical Star Trek orchestral fanfare. Its real lack of anything that defines what a “Legacy” of Star Trek would be is what kills the music, sadly. For a “Legacy”, it lacks any of the real themes, which is a shame. Bethesda could at the very least have licensed a track of two and entwined it with the soundtrack. Even without it, it’s not an overly bad soundtrack. At least it’s one of the not-so-crap parts of the game.
Oh, and there are voices of the captains you all know and love.
And… yup. That’s it. We both can take a breather now because that was it. There is nothing else good about this game.
[i]Not even the Enterprise can save this game from itself.[/i]
Now I can describe for you in painful ways how such a game is more like a corrupt virus (is there any other kind?) than a video game that you’d actually want to play.
Before I start, I’d like to sum it up with a quote I said to a friend a few minutes prior to beginning the writing on this review so you can get a general gist of what I’m going to say:
“It crashes a lot, loses mouse control, has bugs galore, missions that go on and on that you can’t save through, the voices lack feeling, the sounds are edited badly, the control scheme is disgustingly poor, the navigation menu has amazingly slow mouse control, the story is stupid and loaded with continuity errors that any trek fan will pick up… its as if the guys at Mad Doc (who developed it) were constantly on acid when they were developing it.”
Right, so now you see what you’re going to be in for with the game and this review.
Here we go…
From the get-go, I installed the game, loaded it up and played through the first mission. Scott Bakula’s Captain Archer sounded less convincing than on the show and sounded like it was more a chore (which is a shame because I liked him on the show). So, I played through the level and while the tutorial options were just irritating pop-ups that came and told you what you were supposed to do, it was still fairly easy.
The control scheme uses a mouse control for the camera views, ENTER for centring the camera back on the behind of your ship, a WASD control for steering the ship, SPACE for selecting your next enemy, CTRL / MOUSE 1 & ALT / MOUSE 2 for phaser and photon torpedo weapons respectively, and an F key for doing other things like hailing ships or transporting crew over to things and what-not. You even get to either use your scroll wheel or the BACKSPACE command to control your throttle, which lets you have a grand total of 4 choices for speed control: full, one half, one quarter, or none.
Get used to the lack of choices. This game is filled with them.
So anyway, I play through to the end of the first mission by getting the Enterprise to blow away a Romulan ship (which seems too powerful for their size, but who’s counting here). My mission is a success… so it automatically saves!
And there goes my mouse. I’ve lost all control. I can’t press enter or space or anything… I can’t click “OK” to move on… it’s… just… stuck.
But it hasn’t crashed. The music is still playing its orchestral goodness like I’m not going to notice. The mouse has just seen the sights of how bad this game is and has beamed itself to anything BUT this game as quickly as it could.
So I use Task Manager to force quit the game and try again.
Half way through the combat this time, it decides to save on me, which is very odd because saving through a mission is something you actually can’t do in this game.
So if you’ve got a long mission of blowing up an excessive amount of warp field stopper-thingies, you’re stuck playing it for however long you have to in order to get to the next level. Your choices are either play or exit, and if you exit, you’ll have to start all over again.
So back to it, I’m trying to control my awkward control scheme while attempting to blow up Romulans at the same time and all of a sudden, it’s saved my game and my mouse has disappeared on me again.
And this happened two more times in similar ways immediately after.
This is a really bad bug… and it hasn’t been patched. In over six weeks since the game has been released, only one patch has been issued, and that was for GameSpy connectivity.
All of this should give you a fundamental understanding of how bad this game really is.
[i]Deep Space Nine hasn’t looked this good since The Fallen. I guess it’s a real shame that this game feels like The Occupation.
Let me get more serious in my review here and really tell you what’s wrong about it.
Yes, there are bugs. And they will come left, right and centre. You will lose mouse control, your camera won’t do as its told, your game play will stutter and jiggle and do everything BUT feel like it’s been programmed well.
And let’s talk about the camera control… I’ve felt more at ease in trying to balance a spoon on my nose, and I can’t do that to save my life. When you’re flying through space doing nothing more than checking out a planet or two, it’ll work fine. But the moment you’re in a battle, it’ll be as if you’re racing in an oil slick and trying to find you way out.
It just doesn’t work, and it doesn’t even feel as if it’s been made for this game. It feels more like a cheap flight simulator from a 3rd person point of view than a starship-space simulator.
What the hell were they thinking when they packaged this piece of junk and sent it off to stores?!
If you’re already having problems with bugs and bad control schemes, try getting around the mission design: it’s all over the place!
At points, the levels are either too easy or just too long. When they’re too long, only the most die-hard of Trek fans are going to play them and all they’re going to get at the end of it is another dialogue by the Captain and if they’re lucky, a “Mission Successful” dialog box. At one point, upon successfully completing a mission, I was greeted with a mission failure box!
But wait! There’s more!
The sound isn’t good. Sure, the phasers and photons and engines sound nice and crispy and some of the dialogue is good, but it’s let down by poor editing and a bad script. A lot of the lines feel rushed, choppy, and all over the place.
In fact, while the voice overs by the actual actors are generally decent, only Kate Mulgrew’s and Avery Brooks’ parts (which seem to be the most limited) sound altogether constantly believable.
The remaining voices tend to sound immature and unlike the characters they’re representing, almost border on being a comedy, while the “Queen of the Borg” has the worst sound altogether.
You see, the Borg are supposed to sound as a collective, as one.
Not this new Queen. She’s singular, there are no other voices. It is only her when she’s on the comms to you and it doesn’t flow or gel with the other sounds that the Borg make in the game.
Everything’s all over the place!
[i]Captains Log, supplemental. We’ve been sent to investigate one of the many bugs found in this game…[/i]
And the script… Christ, don’t get me started. As someone who loves scripts, I think I’ve found a script I actually loathe.
The story is creative but stupid as far as Trek timelines go, and the continuity errors pop-up all over the place from ships people control to their ranks to why-the-hell-is-Janeway-out-in-the-middle-of-a-war… it’s just… insane!
I haven’t even mentioned the boring scenes at the start of the missions.
You see, the missions are treated like episodes (they’re even given names!), but because this game is built more like a tactical squad flight sim, your opening animatics are purely views of ships with a voice over dialogue cut over it. It’s about as entertaining as watching grass grow… with narration.
Whoever thought that this would emulate the feel of an opening to a Star Trek episode obviously had never watched one.
There’s multiplayer and skirmishes, but half of the time the AI will just pair you up with a ship that is going to be a lot bigger than yours and the other half of the time it just doesn’t work at all.
And then there’s the support, which seems to be one of the worse parts of this whole “Legacy”.
[i]We are Bethesda. Your game will crash. Resistance is futile. We will add your collective anger to our forums where it will be ignored. Resistance is futile.[/i]
The communities of angry customers and fans of the game are either having major issues in getting the game to work or are having requests for patches to fix things fall on deaf ears.
Bethesda seem to be doing nothing about any of the problems or complaints and it makes me wonder how either Mad Doc or Bethesda got this thing out of beta-testing and to a gold status.
It’s just hideously unfinished.
The communities of angry customers have actually paired together and released their own “modifications” that act more like patches and allow customers to do what neither Mad Doc nor Bethesda have allowed as of this point to let many of its customer actually play the game.
All of this is a shame, especially since there have been loads of bad Trek games.
In recent years, however, weve seen some very good ones. Titles like the [url=http://au.gamespot.com/pc/action/startrekvoyagereliteforce/index.html]Elite Force[/url] series, [url=http://au.gamespot.com/pc/sim/startrekbridgecommander/index.html?q=bridge%20commander]Bridge Commander[/url], [url=http://au.gamespot.com/pc/strategy/startrekstarfleetcommand3/index.html]Starfleet Command 3[/url], and the [url=http://au.gamespot.com/pc/strategy/startrekarmada/index.html?q=star%20trek%20armada]Armada[/url] games are all worth mentioning, as well as [url=http://au.gamespot.com/pc/adventure/startrekthenextgfu/review.html?sid=2537836&q=a%20final%20unity]the old A Final Unity[/url] game.
But this game really only furthers to tread all over the so-called Legacy this game aspires to represent. Instead of doing the label justice, it weakens it and takes our hopes for a good gaming experience with it.
[i]It’s such a shame this game looks so good. It’ll probably work brilliantly as a mod tool for creating fan-episodes.[/i]
This game would be better off pushed out of an airlock than taken seriously by anyone wanting to purchase it. Steer clear until patches are issued, and then you might still want to wait ’till this game hits the bargain bin.
I wouldn’t even feed this to a [url=http://memory-alpha.org/en/wiki/Targ]Targ[/url].
[i]Images used in this entry have been acquired from Bethesda’s webpage on the game.[/i]