Star Trek Armada 2

The list of features included in Star Trek Armada 2 will read like a Trekker’s Christmas list. You get six playable races: the Federation, the Klingon Empire, the Cardassian Union, the Romulan Empire, the Borg Collective, and Species 8472. Each race has its own series of special weapons and super-special weapons. And the game’s now playable in true 3D, whereas the original had 3D units moving around a flat 2D plane.

Armada 2 gives you a lot of stuff to do. You’ll be colonizing planets, trading between space stations, and fighting with enemy fleets. But despite the diversity, the game never quite seemed as excited as other action-strategy heavyweights like StarCraft or Red Alert 2.

16Partly responsible for my disinterest is the often-muddled combat. You get 80 ship types — so many, in fact, that most players will have trouble remembering which ships is which. It gets more confusing if you’re fighting a race with vessels that look similar. Massive melees between hordes of Cardassian and Species 8472 ships can quickly deteriorate into a jumbled, confused mess. Granted, there’s a pop-up that appears after you hover over a selected unit, but it’s not feasible to use during the chaos of combat.

The people who will enjoy Armada 2 are diehard fans of the first game (which greatly out-performed Activision’s sales predictions) and Trek fans who revel at the chance to pit new starships against each other on the galactic battlefield. Some of the new gear ratchets up the destruction level to admittedly fabulous new heights: the Cardassian Dreadnought missile, for instance, is a projectile the size of a starship that can destroy space stations with a single hit.

19_1The graphics, while not spectacular, do offer plenty of dazzle, especially the explosions that arc in a growing ring. The sound and music are all up to traditional Trek quality. Multiplay comes in seven different modes, including variations such as Planet Defend and Collect Latinum. While these options are refreshingly creative, and unleashing the more devastating superweapons on your buddy can be quite satisfying, the multiplay still suffers from the same problems haunting the single-player game — even more so if two people play as the same race.

It might be just the level of content getting thrown at you all at once that can cause some players to give up on the game, or it could be the chaotic combat or the formulaic RTS approach. For anyone else, and especially the thorough Star Trek fan, Armada 2 has enough feature creep to hold their attention.

System Requirements: Pentium II 400 MHz, 64 MB RAM, 900 MHz, Win95

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