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martok2112 October 17th, 2006 02:27 AM

Review of Star Trek Encounters for PS2

Graphics: 3/5
Sound: 4/5
Control: 4/5
Story: 3/5
Endorphin Factor: 2.5/5
Frustration Factor: 3/5

Scoring system:
Average: 3.25/5


DETAILS: Well, I'll say this for Star Trek: certainly is unique. 4J Studios and Bethesda Softworks (the latter which is responsible for the hit game Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and creator of the upcoming Star Trek: Legacy) have cranked out a game that is fairly fun to play. It is exactly what the box says: an arcade style starship shoot 'em up.

This game came out fairly low under the radar, which is to say, there really wasn't much advanced publicity, or even advance previews for this particular game. I think Bethesda released it as a sort of short stopgap game for those waiting on Star Trek: Legacy (which looks to be much more in-depth and refined).

The graphics in this game are hit and miss. The backgrounds are stunnnigly beautiful, especially when flying through nebulae. But the ships? Well, in model viewer mode, the ships can be much more appreciated, but they still look rather simplistic...I think we could've gotten a bit more detail out of them on the PS2. In the actual game, you can't really appreciate the designs of the ships that much because when you are moving around and shooting, your ship and the enemy ships are fairly small. Phasers, photon torpedoes, and explosions in this game really rock though.

Control wise, this game is fairly intuitive, and it should be if it is an arcade shoot 'em up. Of course, one never knew that the Constitution class Enterprise was so maneuverable. The control is non-configurable, but it doesn't really need custom configuration because the layout is very conducive to this game's style. It still takes a little getting used to when cycling through the secondary weapons and trying to remember what certain icons represent, so you know you've got the right weapon or system for the job. I don't always like pausing the game just to try and see if I can look up what an icon represents. At least "tractor beam" is straight forward because it simply says: TRACTOR. When maneuvering your ship, sometimes you have to use the "sensor slice" which is controlled by the right analog stick. Sometimes it gets downright tiring when you have to press the right stick in a direction for so long....the sensors kick off once you release the stick...and sometimes, you have to hold the sensors on, otherwise you might run into mines and such. Also, if you score a lock on an enemy vessel, the more damage your weapons will do. And, in some cases, if you lock on long enough, you can cycle through enemy subsystems...this comes in handy if you have to disable a ship, or beam an away team over.

The gameplay in this shoot 'em up varies quickly. One second, you might be blasting a dozen Klingon Birds of Prey out of the stars, the next, you might be having to beam an away team over to either salvage a captured ship, or sabotage and enemy base. Along the way, you can find Star Fleet emblems which represent character cards. For each character card you pick up in the single player EPISODE game, your ship gets upgraded with a 20% boost in whatever subsystem the character might specialize in. (However, I did not know that Dr.McCoy was an engineering expert, as his card reduces incoming damage to your ship by 20%). Also, in traditional, fast-paced arcade action, you have powerups you can pick up to enhance your weapons, recharge your energy, replenish your ammo, or other such things. These powerups come especially handy in the multiplayer modes, of which there are three, under a game called SKIRMISH.

You have Head-To-Head, which is just you and a single enemy vessel. You can set the number of frags, and the difficulty of your enemy vessel in 'bot (singleplayer) mode. It's a straight up deathmatch. The first to reach the set number of frags is the victor.

There is Battlefest, where you pick a list set of ships (numbering three from any faction), and you start with the least powerful ship. The object is to try and destroy all the enemy's list set before yours are. In the Federation set, you get the NX Class to start with, then the movie Constitution class, and finally, the Galaxy class. I used the Klingon set in this round, starting with a Bird of Prey. I ended up getting blasted there, and calling up the D7 (my personal favorite, but it got spawn killed-- I'll explain that term in a moment), and I ended up having to go with the Vor'Cha class. I ended up defeating the enemy Fed ships. Now, the Vor'Cha class in the game looks nothing like the Vor'Cha class that most Trek geeks like myself know it to look like. However, it is a very powerful ship.

Then there is Onslaught. This is probably THE MOST arcadey mode in the whole of the game. You pick a ship. (I chose Constitution class). You try to see how many waves of enemy ships (ranging all the way from fighters to capital ships) you can destroy, and survive. You have three lives. Before I lost my first life, I had already scored 1,483,000 pts. On my second life, I reached 1, 700,000. I never did make it to 2,000,000 though, as I ended up getting swarmed by Cardassian Hideki class fighters, and Keldon class attack cruisers. Still, it was fun, especially when I'd grab a cool power up (like QUAD DAMAGE, or INVINCIBILITY), and lay the smackdown on several ships. It's also cool when you manage to get a lock on multiple ships, and watch your phasers go to work.

Sounds in this game range from genuine Star Trek to genuinely WTF! Phasers sound like those from Star Trek The Next Generation, as do the photon torpedoes. Klingon disruptor cannons on the other hand sound more like machine guns than energy weapons. The music is beautiful, and William Shatner provides the voice work as the instructor in this game.

There are a couple of liberties taken with canon in this game. For starters, I didn't know a Constitution class could defeat a Romulan Warbird. Go figure.

There are a variety of weapons in this game. Phasers, Disruptors, Photon Torpedoes, Pulse Cannons, Tractor Beams, Mines. Phasers are probably the best weapons, period. They have good dwell time, and do damage fairly quickly.

There's not really a compelling story in this game. Just a bunch of episodes broken up amidst the various eras (of which all of them are here). You start out in Star Trek: Enterprise, then Classic Star Trek (movie era), Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, and finally Star Trek: Sovereign (which deals with the Sovereign class Enterprise).

BOTTOM LINE: As stated, this is exactly what the box says: an arcade style shoot 'em up. If you like action in your Star Trek, this game might well fit your bill. It is budget priced (I got mine for 15 bucks at Best Buy), and I frankly am glad I only paid that much for this new game. I don't think a game of this type really warrants a 50 dollar price tag.

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