After years of wading through barely-tolerable Star Trek titles, Interplay has finally created a game that lives up to the Star Trek name. It looks good, sounds incredible and is a lot of fun to play.
The game lets players boldly go where every federation officer went before, through the doors of the famous Starfleet Academy. Classes are taught in full motion video by William Shatner, Walter Koenig and George Takei. Video clips in the cafeteria and other locations around campus give wanna-be captains time to interface with the inexperienced classmates assigned to their crew. Handling interpersonal conflicts early, by choosing the proper of three dialog choices, can really help out later. A great crew is no good if they are at each other’s throats.
But the real action takes place in the academy’s space flight simulator. Taking the captain’s chair lets players command over 20 missions of increasing difficulty in various Starfleet vessels. Some of the missions are taken right from the old television series, letting captains try things that James T. Kirk may not have thought about.
In space, everything looks real through the large Enterprise-like view screen. Your ship responds quickly as you maneuver it, although some of the larger craft are purposely made sluggish. The texture mapping on the ships you encounter is the best I’ve seen. You can even read the registration numbers off the sides of vessels you pass.
Although opening sequences don’t mean a lot these days, for Academy, its icing on the cake. Watching the old enterprise pull into space dock is better than anything you’ll see on televison. And the game has Dolby surround sound and a soundtrack written by original series musicians, so if you have good speakers – they’ll rock the house.