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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Sim

 

Publisher

Activision

 

Developer

Totally Games

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

Q1 2002

 

 

- Which Trekkie hasn’t held dreams/aspirations of sitting in the chair?

- Excellent combat views, ships are rendered well

- Good opponent AI

- I just love the smaller packaging… why didn’t someone think of this sooner?

 

 

- Characters look really blocky and lip-synching is horrendous

- Absolutely terrible support AI

 

 

Review: Star Trek: Away Team (PC)

Review: Star Trek: Starfleet Command - Orion Pirates (PC)

Review: Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force (PC)

Review: Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force Expansion Pack (PC)

 

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Star Trek Bridge Commander

Score: 7.5 / 10

 

Every true Trekkie has spent at least a portion of their daydream-time thinking about how cool it would be to sit in the Command seat and dictate orders to underlings in a faux French accent. Well, with Star Trek: Bridge Commander (BC) you can at least accomplish one of the two goals (you’re going to have to supply your own accent). The first thing that you’ll notice with the title is the smaller box. I personally can’t believe that it took this long to bring computer game boxes down to a reasonable size. I was forced to compact a six-shelf collection of boxes for my impending move and my collection would take up a lot less weight and room if this was implemented sooner.

 

star01.jpg (71211 bytes)         star05.jpg (151072 bytes)

 

Back to the story! After the tragic loss of your captain in an unexpected supernova, you have been promoted to captain of your former posting, the USS Dauntless. Starting with a few missions (mostly to get a feel for the controls and interface), you take your Galaxy class starship on a few missions of mercy and then into an exploration of some strange happenings around the system. (Read: chance to blow some people into expanding gas clouds) Once the regional Admiral decides that your findings warrant a better ship for the mission, you are given command of the USS Sovereign, the test-bed ship for the Sovereign class starships (The Enterprise-E is one of them). With this much firepower, no one should stand in your way right?

 

The game was developed by one of my favorite groups, Totally Games!, which was the team responsible for the X-Wing series from LucasArts. With this level of quality work, one would expect an excellent space combat system and BC is delivered with change to spare.

 

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The flight aspect looks great -- all of the ships are beautifully rendered and actually show quadrant damage much like one would expect from the show. Hit a nacelle with constant barrages and it’ll start smoking; concentrated fire to a portion of the hull will cause it to leak atmospheric gas… and so on and so forth. The battles themselves look spectacular, from the rainbow pulse of energy that a shield displays when holding up 

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against a barrage to the light streaks trailing a photon torpedo, it’s really impressive. Unlike the X-Wing series, the action is paced slower and oriented toward strategy. The battles between a series of capital ships can take as long as half an hour to resolve (though I don’t remember any battles taking that long in an episode). The enemy AI is actually intelligent enough to make your life difficult, if not impossible, at times – expect to see specific ships pounding away at your escort while one annoys you. They actually co-ordinate attacks and work to make your life difficult in combat, a sign of a good design.

 

The missions themselves try to be different and represent more than just the obvious epic space battles every 30 seconds. Besides the usual ferry service that Starfleet seems to represent, there are a variety of scientific and fact-finding missions that vary the action nicely. For the most part, you’ll be in charge of keeping the peace by blowing things into pieces.

 

You’ll quickly learn how to use your bridge crew to accomplish tasks, but there is a nagging feeling that you somehow picked your crew off the short yellow bus, especially when you give them an order and they don’t have a freaking clue what you’re talking about or trudge about their task with all the finesse of a cyclonic sledgehammer at a crystal mouse convention. My major complaints come down to 3 of the 5 members of your bridge crew (all of the male members… hmm…) who seem to be unable to perform any duties -- you have to push them out of the way and do it yourself. The tactical officer, Lieutenant Felix Savali, has to be the worst offender. If you give him an attack order on a specific point, he’ll endlessly circle the target until he gets “just the right shot” but the time between firings is so great that the opposition has plenty of time to affect repairs and generally mess up your ship. The so-called scientific officer, Lieutenant Commander Miguel Diaz, represents the majority of your frustration on scientific missions – for some reason he’ll continue to insist that you need to be closer to scan the object that is smashing into the hull. I’ve found that yelling at him in Spanish not only reduces frustration but makes the action seem more authentic. The final annoyance has to be the Bolian chief engineer Lieutenant Commander Brex who is completely unable to pull himself away from his game of Tetris to change the power settings. There is something completely un-captain like about pushing people out of the way to make sure things actually get done.

 

My only other major complaint has to be with the lip-synching of the voice actors with the rendered characters. Not only to the characters themselves look terribly blocky, but the miserable job of lip-synching had me always looking to skip cutscenes. The sound is decent, good effects matching the Star Trek Universe well and a good musical score during action that shifts nicely to increase the tension when necessary.

 

All in all Star Trek: Bridge Commander is a good game that has some weaknesses which some will be able to overlook, but some will find downright annoying. I’d recommend downloading the demo first to see if you like the title.

 

- Tazman

 

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