previews\ Oct 29, 2002 at 7:00 pm

Star Trek Starfleet Command III - PC - Preview

Star Trek: Starfleet Command III is attempting to boldly go where no Star Trek title has gone before. In fact, you could say that not only is this a vastly improved game, but it is the ‘next generation’ in the series.

Activision’s latest installment in the series, for the PC, takes place in The Next Generation universe. This is a game of starship tactical combat, but the difference with this game is that while it keys on the ship, it doesn’t overlook the officers.

GameZone had the opportunity to preview the upcoming release.

Game players have the ability to recruit new officers, which can impact ship performance, battle strength and endurance. The officers can gain experience and level up, which has effects on the ship.

There are a total of three single-player campaigns, and players can play from the Romulan, Klingon or Federation perspective. Successfully completing a mission earns prestige points, which can be spent on ship upgrades, or to buy a new ship. There are more than 25 ship types, including the Romulan Warbird, Borg Cube, Klingon Neghvar-class battleship and Sovereign-class starship.

Patrick Stewart is on hand to talk players through the tutorials before jumping into a mission.

Other features of the game include an improved player interface with each control element a click away. The multiplayer will revolve around a skirmish mode which includes the three races from the campaign, plus the Borg. Players will be allowed to team up and fight together against other players.

This is a game that may be easier to get into, but players will definitely spend a long time getting adept at playing it. There is so much to consider when embarking on a mission. Remember, this is a tactical combat game. You can’t just blindly warp into action (well, you really can’t warp into combat at all) and hope to emerge victorious. Impulse engines can allow you to survey the scenario, and decide a course of action before engaging.

Graphically the program is very nice, though the loose three-dimensional aspect of space combat seems to get short shrift in the game. Star Trek fans may remember Kirk’s strategy in "The Wrath of Khan," realizing his opponent was thinking in two dimensions and taking advantage of it.

The hex map system may be bothersome to some players, but it works well in this game. The campaign mapboard is made up of numbered hexes, which represent sectors in space. The camera also will allow you to zoom in tight on your ship or back off and view a wider range of space.

This is the type of game that those who crave to command starships may enjoy. It may face some competition from other space programs being released through the end of the year, but there is a lot that can be said for the opportunity to fly through the universe of Star Trek.

This is a game that has depth of play, and challenge. What more can one ask of a game?

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