Trekking Ahead for Adventure
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We're all too familiar with the fact that lucrative licenses such as Star Trek will have publishers rubbing their hands together with glee, their eyes glinting with pound or dollar signs and the sweet sound of cash registers ringing in their ears. "Quick cash-in" is a fate that has befallen many a Star Wars title and Trekkies may be reluctant to fall for the same trick.
Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force will wash away the fears of Star Trek fans everywhere. Here is a game that successfully immerses you in Gene Rodenberry's universe. And gasp, even if you're not a Trekkie, there is some quality FPS action to be had.
Elite Force holds its own in the oversubscribed arena that is the FPS genre. The controls are satisfyingly intuitive - one toggle looks, the other toggle directs and subsequent buttons change weapons and interact with the environment when required. One thing that sets Elite Force apart from some of the competition is the chance to play in numerous episodes of Star Trek - trust me that's a good thing.
Right from the moment I popped the disk into the machine, everything went all Star Trek on me. Of course the beginning features Voyager flying through familiar nebulas a la the title sequence from the show, although I was puzzled that the original theme music wasn't used. But all is forgiven when menu screens look and sound like a Star Trek interface.
Players can choose from a male or female character and sorry no, neither of them is a familiar member of the crew from the show. Next it's time to head for a tutorial with Tuvok (a guy from the show, for those not familiar with the finer points of Voyager). You'll be glad to know that all the voice-acting for characters from the TV series is done by the original actors, so no cringing at shonky impressions needed.
After whizzing through the learning the controls bit, you're flung into the thick of things aboard a Borg Cube. At this point, Star Trek fans may need a change of pants because creeping around the Borg ship is extremely cool. There they are doing Borg stuff and there's you embarking on the heroic rescue of your comrades. All goes well until you upset one of them by shooting them or something and all hell breaks lose. They all start whining collectively about intruders and you just have to go postal on them, heh, cool.
Most of the missions involve shooting lots of aliens and solving minor puzzles. Well, if you can call "find button to open door A, to get to point B" a puzzle. The gameplay is quite linear and therefore of the, can't really go wrong variety, but this just adds to its playability as far as I'm concerned. If it's three day brain-teasers you're after, then you'd better look elsewhere because Elite Force ain't going to deliver it.
This game provides a quick fix and regular rewards in the shape of fast progression through missions. That said, the missions are pretty long and just when you're about to reach your goal something else blows up, attacks or dies and sends you on an alternative route.
The only really drawback was that I found myself saving an average of every three minutes. I checked the save times, so you can quote me on that. Now, you maybe saying, "What kind of lame arse needs to save every three minutes?" All I can say is, if you prefer to save intermittently and repeat vast sections of the level when you get killed countless times, then be my guest. I'll wager that having sat through the lengthy load screen a dozen times you'll adopt my method pretty sharpish. Don't expect to escape the loading times though, every single save became a painful wait between gaming experiences. With such an immersive experience to enjoy, I would have appreciated a Halo style 'auto save at certain points' system.
When you do reach the end of a mission though, you'll enjoy the twist in the tale that characterises a familiar episode of Star Trek. In one mission, it turns out the aliens you've been slaying willy nilly weren't trying to kill us, they were trying to communicate in order to save their planet. Duh, if only they'd said that earlier. What a waste of ammo!
All in all Elite Force offered me pretty much what I'd want from a Star Trek game. I got to crawl inside the Jeffries tubes on Voyager AND shut down the warp core - I mean could you get more Star Trek than that? I think not. This game is worth it just to slay some Borg. The graphics are pretty good and there's also some multi-player action to be had on the holodeck. This is a quality, dip in, dip out game that requires little thought and gives a lot back in return.
Highly addictive fun, offering Star Trek fans the chance to become one with the Trek universe, earning it 3 GiN gems. Although this is an enjoyable FPS in its own right, there's no innovation so Elite Force will probably be appreciated most by fans of the show.
Chella is GiN's UK-based product tester. A self-confessed Cornish pasty addict, Chella is never happier than when she's slacking off to play a five-gem game. : firstname.lastname@example.org.