Star Trek: Elite Force 2
With top-notch Star Trek games being so aggravatingly rare, Raven Softwareâ€™s Elite Force was a breath of fresh air. Short and punchy, the first-person shooter took the niche-within-a-niche and turned it into a pretty solid frag fest. Several years and one expansion pack later, a sequel was on the horizon, this time from Ritual Entertainment. Elite Force II once again features the Hazard Team lead by Alexander Munro, a rather more combat-oriented variation on the typical Federation away team. Instead of calmly reasoning with alien life forms, the Hazard Team just vaporizes them.
One aspect of the new game is adding more depth to the originalâ€™s linear shooter gameplay or heavy use of the Tricorder, that ubiquitous and mysterious Star Trek device that seems to do everything from analyzing xenomorphs to mixing martinis. Here, youâ€™ll often face things that canâ€™t be blown up or perforated. You can â€œmodulateâ€ some controls simply by â€œfiringâ€ the Tricorder at them. Others require more dexterous manipulations. In one type of puzzle you have to match two waveforms by modulating amplitude, frequency, and period. In another, you have to connect a circuit in a manner reminiscent of the System Shock games.
Still, the gameâ€™s 11 missions, 12 environments, and 70 levels are mostly about boldly going where no one has gone before, and blowing up what you find. The weapons include the usual Trek suspects like phasers and compression rifles, plus some new toys from the Romulans, Klingons, and various other alien types. Combat retains the feel of the first Elite Force, which is either good or bad depending on how okay you are with slower-than-light-speed projectiles, and a near total absence of visceral feedback. It is all consistent with the source material, though, and quite attractive to look at in action.
Like the first game, Elite Force 2 starts deep in Borg territory. Upon boarding their sphere, your team is misplaced and you find yourself playing the rescuer. Once you make it back to Starfleet Academy, the headmaster decides to split up the hazard team and assigns each elite soldier to relatively menial duties. Eventually, Jean-Luc Picard, while on federation business, notices Munro kicking some serious tail in one of the holodekâ€™s combat simulation programs, and snatches him and the rest of the old crew back for work on board the Enterprise.
The plot in this sequel is a lot more consistent and believable than that of the first Elite Force, and includes enough interesting, true-to-the-show elements to keep fans enthralled till the end. But Ritual Entertainment did not rely solely on elements of the established Star Trek universe in order to construct Elite Force IIâ€™s story, they have taken a few liberties and introduced three new alien species that work their way into the gameâ€™s plot. First on the list of fresh interspecies faces is the Attrexians, who reside near the Neutral Zone and have inexplicably fell victim to another alien species known as the Exomorphs, who have declared war on the Attrexians for reasons unknown. The history of the Exomorphs is shrouded in secrecy, even their origin is unknown. Youâ€™ll also come across an interesting species called the Idryll, who are widely known for holding a few grudges against the Attrexians.
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While the original Elite Force focused almost entirely on mindless combat, with a slapdash story thrown in, Elite Force II is decidedly more of a Star Trek fans dream when it comes to friendly interaction, interesting exploration, and inside references. The in-game cut-scenes interspersed throughout the experience help to push the story further and between combat missions youâ€™ll get a chance to check out the various locales of Starfleet Academy or chat up crewmembers aboard the Enterprise. The sheer geek-factor of being able to realize the various nuances of the Star Trek universe in all their glory via a mouse and keyboard is off the charts.
Multiplayer offers its own bucket of cool. Deathmatch, CTF, Tag, Control Points, Power Struggle, and Bomb Diffusion modes are all included and spread across 10 different multiplayer maps. As expected, these modes are playable online and via LAN, but also offline via bots! In all, Elite Force 2 is light years (groans!) ahead of its predecessor, offering just about everything you might expect from a high-tier shooter in general, and one aimed at Star Trek geeks in particular. It has enough content to guarantees a prolonged lifespan on your hard drive.
System Requirements: Pentium 200 MHz, 32 MB RAM, Windows 95
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