Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - Dominion Wars
|a game by||Gizmo Industries|
|User Rating:||8.0/10 - 1 vote|
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Star Trek. Two words that hang over the PC games industry like so much bad air. If we had a quid for every substandard Star Trek game that washed up on these shores, we'd probably be able to send out for pizzas, and maybe even have some change left over. If we had another quid for every anal buffoon who writes in with some pedantic comment about misrepresentation of phasers or incorrectly used apostrophes, we'd probably be able to throw in a few beers as well. So listen up Trekkies, Trekkoids, whatever you call yourselves: get a grip, get a shave, and take a bath.
It may have been implied within these pages that Star Trek is not my favourite thing, and the occasional poorly written piece of hate mail would appear to add credence to this theory. The truth is, if there's absolutely nothing else on, I might entertain watching the original series, although the kitsch/nostalgic appeal still wears thin over the course of an entire episode. As for the new stuff, I would scarcely know where to start.
I could probably pick out a Klingon from a line-up, and I believe the actor Patrick Stewart is involved somewhere. As for your Next Generations, Voyagers and Deep Space Nines, it's all a bit of a mystery. In fact, the closest I get to any of that nonsense is flicking through a copy of PC, which tragically appears to be transforming itself into a thinly veiled Star Trek tribute magazine. I'm lying of course. I love Star Trek.
Set within a faithfully replicated Deep Space Nine universe (which some aficionados might concede is the worst series), Dominion Wars ambitiously describes itself as a realtime space combat strategy. Having played a pre-beta version of the final game, we can confirm that it is realtime, there is a great deal of space combat, and a degree of strategy is required. However, by space combat, don't expect to leap into the cockpit of a craft and start giving your joystick a battering. It's essentially a strategy game set in space, and if we wanted to pigeonhole it, we could uncomfortably describe it as Homeworld in Deep Space Nine trousers, which it isn't, since resource-management is kept to keeping your crew alive rather that spending an age boring through rocks... Extensive space battles are the order of the day then, and before entering into the fray, you can select your fleet and appoint commanders to each ship as well as crew and weaponry. And, hey, it's just like on the telly. The cast and crew are all in there, for what it's worth, and, along with more than 20 different classes of starships, including several original, never-before-seen designs created exclusively for the game. Officially sanctioned by Paramount, these include the Jem'Hader Strike Cruiser, the Kilingon K'Vort Cha', and the Cardassian Hutet Warship classes.
Six Of One
Up to sue ships can be commanded simultaneously, and the viewpoint can be switched between them or panned out to give a more strategic overview. The action takes place in the same time period as the final two seasons of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, when the Dominion War pitted an alliance of the Federation and Klingons against the Cardassians and invading Dominion fleets in a prolonged and costly battle for control of the Alpha Quadrant. But you already knew that, didn't you?
Each ship is programmed with artificial intelligence and is fine-tuned to behave appropriately for its size, capabilities and origin. Therefore Klingon ships fight to the bitter end, avoiding the dishonour of defeat and capture at all cost. Federation ships exhibit the technological prowess of Federation science and the renowned skill of Starfleet's finest officers, Cardassian ships are ruthless and cunning, and Dominion ships cold and calculatingly brutal. As a last resort the Jem'Hadar fighters will even ram their opponents in a suicidal manoeuvre.
All of this takes place in front of your eyes, replete with rather impressive moving pictures, and all the Star Trek sound effects, voices and music any fan could possibly want. Resources can be switched from one ship to another, and they can each be assigned different tasks, such as guarding a fellow ship, circling the enemy, or attacking a base, with a number of objectives given for each mission. At first look, it's a fairly in-depth approach, and it's shaping up to be a game for the hardcore Star Trek strategist. If you can bear the tension, we'll be bringing you an in-depth review any time soon, maybe even as early as next issue. That would be nice.
Richie Shoemaker thinks it's time for a change
Space sims, 3D real-time strategy, first-person shooters, point-and-click adventures, online Top Trumps rubbish and tum-based boredom - all genres done to death over the years through dozens of Star Ttek games, most, until recently, utter toss. Star Ttek, like Star Wars, is of course better suited to some genres than others and in the realm of space strategy, a genre Dominion Wars occupies alongside the similar Starfteet Command, there seem to be few equals.
But where is Star Ttek: Deep Space Nine - The SimS1 Surety a game where you start out in the crew quarters, and go to work in Quark's bar and try and chat up tri-breasted ladies would be a winner. Reviewed in this very issue is Startopia, a game that with DS9s licence and back story could have been a Trekkies dream come true. Better still Star Ttek: Deep Throat Nine, which my editor I'm sure would prefer I didn't expand on, but you get my drift. There are some great ideas out there and Star Ttek games still seem content to clone just the popular ones, like Quake and Command & Conquer, without playing to the strengths of the Star Ttek universe itself, such as exploration and discovery.
And while I'm at it, can someone start work on that Star Ttek Vs Star Wars game we're all waiting for.
Download Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - Dominion Wars
There were two kinds of Deep Space Nine episodes. There were the character-based ones, where Sisko would have long father/son talks with Jake, Doctor Bashir would have his heart broken by a paralytic alien and Odo would lust like a pining sock puppet over Major Kira. Because most of these episodes sent the audience into a frenzy of boredom and desperation, the second kind was introduced. These were the massive space battles between the Federation, Klingons, Dominion and Cardassians, with the kind of lavish special effects that a Hollywood sci-fi production would be proud of.
While the Star Wars films will always be everyone's pick of screen space battles, they were essentially about fast fighters on impossible missions. In DS9, the battles had thousands of vessels on each side, playing out political conflicts rather than the 'one man against evil' scenario. It's no surprise then that Gizmo has chosen this fertile area to set its space strategy game, taking full advantage of the complex background from the series and the interplay of all the major characters.
There are more than 30 missions set over three campaigns, with all the ships seen in the series as well as the obligatory 'designed specially for the game' vessels. Who commands those ships is much more than a merely aesthetic choice - an experience point system builds up the characters, making each one an invaluable asset. Unlike Star Trek: Armada, there is no 'shake & bake' management, so you can concentrate more on the purely tactical aspect of the battles. Because you are made to feel close to the people commanding each ship, you won't be making any rash decisions or sending them needlessly to their deaths (unless you don't like them, of course). And because you can't simply mine some dilithium and chum out more via a spaceship factory, losing a ship will be an important event. More so because you will also lose a valuable captain who will have gained previous experience.
The graphics are the business and come with a 3D engine that will allow for all the spinning, rotating and zooming you could ever wish for. Just as importantly, multiplayer is a big part of the game, allowing diehard fans to reconstruct their favourite battles and play as any of the races.
If you're wondering who Gizmo Games is, it might help you to know that the people in the company have previously worked on such luminous titles as Dark Reign, MechWarrior 2 and Heavy Gear.
We'll have to wait a few months before we find out if they've managed to produce an RTS worthy of the Star Trek licence, or whether we're just facing yet another case of cashing-in on a big name with a game glued on it.