Game Over Online ~ Star Trek: New Worlds

GameOver Game Reviews - Star Trek: New Worlds (c) Interplay, Reviewed by - Clarence Worley

Game & Publisher Star Trek: New Worlds (c) Interplay
System Requirements Windows 9x, Pentium 166, 32MB Ram, 160MB HDD, 4x CD-ROM
Overall Rating 35%
Date Published Friday, September 15th, 2000 at 09:08 PM

Divider Left By: Clarence Worley Divider Right

After a dismal history in PC gaming, the Star Trek universe has received an injection of life over the past couple of years with a number of solid titles from an assortment of gaming genres. Interplay's 14 Degrees East division has had a strong hand in the resurgence of the Star Trek franchise, having released both Starfleet Command and Klingon Academy in recent months/years. Unfortunately, their latest effort, a 3D real-time strategy game entitled Star Trek: New Worlds, is one that'll have fans reliving memories of Star Trek games past, as New Worlds falls victim to some of the most basic flaws and elements of a real-time strategy title.

New Worlds begins with a solid opening sequence which reveals the following plot:

(Cue Star Trek theme)

While experimenting in the Neutral Zone with a powerful weapon termed the 'Shiva Device', the Romulans have accidentally created an entire system of resource-rich worlds. To no surprise, each of the big three - the Federation, Romulans and Klingons - want to get their hands on the newly-found resources and that's where you come in, acting as an officer for one of the three factions as you attempt to acquire the wealth of these New Worlds.

You begin the game by choosing to play as the Federation, Klingons or the Romulans. As an officer of your selected faction, you'll progress through a series of 14 missions (for each faction, 42 missions in total). You'll be required to follow the standard strategy format of establishing a colony capable of building vehicles and structures, seeking out and mining resources like dilithium, kelbonite and nitrium, and exploring the vast worlds while eliminating any threats to your existence. Each of the three factions is relatively unique in their abilities, for example the Federation is stronger when it comes to science and technology while the Romulans enjoy better cloaking abilities. Each of the factions sports their own unit types as well, so each of the big three is definitely it's own unique experience.

The first of many problems rears its ugly head right off the bat. Each mission features a series of objectives: Primary, Secondary and Tertiary. The primary goal is the only one needed to complete each mission, although obtaining secondary and tertiary goals will improve your score and rank. The primary objectives are relatively generic: establish colony, mine for resources, upgrade buildings and build a strong army in order to explore and eliminate your enemies. The problem is, most of the missions are designed to take up to an hour or more to complete. With no available save game function during play, this is sure to cause frustration, particularly when you have to replay missions that you don't succeed at. There doesn't seem to be a quick way to do things, and that's not necessarily all because of the mission design, but also due in part to the lack of some of the most fundamental real-time strategy elements.

Star Trek: New Worlds features a 3D engine similar to that of Earth 2150. The interface is also relatively generic, with the usual menu to the right of the screen in which you use to build and interact with units. A mini-map, termed a 'Tricorder', appears below the menu on the right to show any one general area. The mini-map can in fact be maximized and used as the main game screen, however I wouldn't recommend such a decision. Graphically, New Worlds is a mixed bag. While the lighting effects, weather effects and terrain detail are satisfactory, the vehicles and buildings could use more polish. The detail level goes hand in hand with the camera work, which is implemented like any standard 3D RTS. You'll need to zoom out in order to see the whole picture, but unless you zoom in close, you won't be able to recognize or distinguish each of your units. More detail in the units and buildings would allow you to stay zoomed at a reasonable distance and still be able to perform certain tasks without worrying about what or who you're selecting.

There are several key basic elements that must go into a RTS and New Worlds seems to be missing just about all of them. The inability to queue units and the lack of unit formations are inexcusable omissions. Add on the fact you can't set waypoints and unit control becomes even more problematic. Selecting units and moving them to desired areas can be an adventure since manoeuvring the worlds is a daunting task. You can scroll using the mouse, or you can double-click on the 'Tricorder', but if you double-click on the mini-map, you de-select your troops. So basically you have to select your troops and scroll the main screen until you find the desired location you wish them to move to. Toss onto that the fact that units move at an incredibly slow pace and you'll realize why missions can take more than an hour to complete.

If you haven't already turned and run from this game, let me touch briefly on a few other flaws the game sports. The unit menu to the right only displays a few vehicles/structures, so you'll find yourself scrolling to find the desired unit you wish to produce. Also, there are relatively few surprises as you progress through the missions. Most of the tech tree is revealed in the first or second mission because in order to build certain units, you need to upgrade structures a number of times and all of the upgrades are immediately available. You could essentially see everything the game has to offer in the first mission. Finally, there's no skill adjustment, the difficulty level is pre-set.

I don't want you to get the idea that there's nothing good in New Worlds, because there is. For one, troops must be trained and they gain experience throughout the missions. The audio, particularly the voice acting, is great. The sound effects could have been a little more inventive, but they get the job done. The mission briefings are top notch and the unit diversity between each faction is satisfying as well. Unfortunately these are all 'icing' type elements. The core of the game is where all the problems lie and without that, there's no reason to play this game.

New Worlds supports multiplayer via TCP/IP as well as, but only up to three players can play at one time… oh, and it doesn't seem to work at all. Trying to connect with another player caused my game to crash on numerous occasions and when I went to join a game on Mplayer, there was no one to be found. I guess I wasn't the only one having problems with this.

Star Trek: New Worlds has the feel of a game that is unfinished. Can a patch save this experience? I'm leaning towards a no on that, there are just too many issues to deal with here. New Worlds reminded me a lot of that recent RTS, LucasArts released, based on the Star Wars universe… what was that one called again? Yeah, neither is memorable enough and neither is worth checking out either, so stay away from New Worlds at all costs.


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