Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - The Fallen
Here we go, another month, another Star Trek game - and one that on paper doesn't hold much promise. Let's look at the evidence: the setting is, of course, the now-defunct DS9 series, the Star Trek offshoot that is perhaps the weakest of the four, due to the fact that almost the entire first four seasons were set exclusively on DS9 itself. As the basis for a game, you wouldn't think much was salvageable. But then the series suddenly went from bad to brilliant, almost in one episode. Klingon Worf transferred over from The Next Gen's Enterprise. The high-tech USS Defiant took to the stars, Ferengi wideboy Quark started selling 3D pom and all sorts of Dominion/Klingon/Federation tension kicked off. Best of all, whining Jake Sisko, son of the Station's commander, buggered off the Station.
At its core The Fallen comes from the Tomb Raider Academy of Game Design. You follow one of three of the series' cast (Sisko Sr, Worf or Kira) in third-person view, cavorting across chasms, finding less-than-elusive triggers that allow access to further levels, while along the way you get to vaporise evil-doers with Phasers, Gravitic Mines, Grenade Launchers and Pulse Cannons.
Unlike Tomb Raider, however, The Fallen has been designed from the outset as a PC game, and as such you control your character in the same manner as you would in a first-person shooter. The mouse controls the camera and the keyboard controls your movements and inventory, so there are no problems with the camera getting in the way of the action and obscuring your view of what might be going on around you. The Fallen may look like Tomb Raider in Star Fleet clothing, but it is a hell of a lot more than that.
For Star Trek fans at least, The Fallerfs big draw is its story. Set alongside the Millennium trilogy of DS9 novels, the story is concerned with finding three red orbs. The Cardassians want them to build some mad weapon, the Cult of the Pah-Wraiths want them to fulfil an ancient prophecy and the Federation have been dragged in because it's all kicking off on Deep Space Nine.
OK, so the story maybe doesn't sound all that promising, but it's the way in which each race's motivations are revealed that makes it all tick along at a perfect pace, bringing in plenty of mystery and subterfuge along the way.
Being able to play the game as one of three of DS9s main characters helps the storyline no end as well. Rather than give you the same levels to play through, each character's story runs parallel with the others.
For instance, playing the game as Sisko you are beamed aboard a stranded Federation vessel to rescue the stricken crew. As you materialise, an alien ship arrives and attacks the Defiant. If you play as Worf your first mission is set on the Defiant as the same bio-organic aliens beam aboard, so as you run around finding access cards to shut out the marauding menace, Sisko is doing the same nearby.
Occasionally the characters meet up, usually aboard Deep Space Nine itself, and swap stories. If you've been playing as Kira, you can start again as Worf and reach the same point in the storyline, learning that little bit more about the mystery. It's clever stuff, and very entertaining. More than any other Star Trek game to date, The Fallen has bags of atmosphere. In fact, more than any other Star Trek game, film or TV show, The Fallen manages to conjure up a sense of fear and foreboding. It's not quite up to the level set by System Shock 2, of course, but there are a handful of times when an alien might cause you to leap out of your skin, helped by the dark levels and brooding and uncharacteristically tense soundtrack.
Though the adventuring side of the game is little more than a series of keycard-searching set-pieces, the developer has at least added a few puzzles that make use of standard-issue Federation equipment. Tricorders, for instance, are pretty handy at locating secret switches and hostile enemies that may be lurking in the next room.
More than that though, they are essential if you want to avoid hand-to-hand combat. One alien you meet early on carries a Borg-like personal energy shield, which you have to scan to get its frequency so you can adjust your Phaser setting to shoot through it. You may have more powerful weapons in your arsenal, but only a trusty Phaser in combination with your tricorder will get you past the the Grigari hordes. Another nice touch.
The Fallen is not without its problems though. Without a decent 3D card (Voodoo 3 or GeForce), many of the models and textures lack definition. Additionally, the game can become repetitive - thanks in part to a clutch of enemies that although not stupid, are very predictable. Cardassians, Grigari and all the other alien scum of the universe all typically fire on sight rather than sound, rushing towards you in order that they may die in full view.
On some levels the enemies are placed in such a way that firing into a nearby fuel canister will neatly kill them. You might not see that as much of a problem, but believe me, in the 24th century fuel drums are left everywhere - kinda careless, you have to agree.
That aside, The Fallen is a highly entertaining game and is in many ways comparable to Voyager- Elite Force in that it offers a great storyline, within a game that plays to Star Trek's strengths as a TV series.
Against Voyager, although there are no multiplayer options, The Fallen at least offers more than two days of single-player fun. It's atmospheric, involving, good-looking and above all addictive. Star Trek fans especially will love it, Tomb Raider fans may even prefer it.
Download Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - The Fallen
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
Imagine the fly-on-the-wall docusoap Airport set in a futuristic space station, with a megalomaniac baritone captain, a good-natured Irish engineer, a sneaky barman and a psychotic tailor. Not to mention a shapeshifting security guard and an interesting mix of ethnic diversity. While most series of Star Trek are full of the excitement of travelling into the unknown, DS9's usual storyline involves watching the crew fall out with each other while they drink large quantities of Klingon coffee and wait for something to happen. Its fluctuating quality seems to depend on how much time is spent on the station. Trying to give the series a darker, more claustrophobic feel is all very well, but apart from some Men-esque episodes, the best ones always feature spectacular space battles and away missions.
You'll be happy to hear then, that most of The Fallen's action takes place far from the dingy Cardassian station and has none of the series' cringe-inducing emotional drama. The game's developers, The Collective, have realised that DS9 is at its finest when there's lots of action going on and they've made a fabulously good-looking third-person shooter with enough adventure elements to please die-hard fans and casual gamers alike.
The plot revolves around the quest for three red orbs, which have the power to unlock a portal to the Pah-Wraiths (the arch enemies of the Bajoran prophets) and unleash hell on the Alpha Quadrant. You can play as Sisko (the bald captain with a penchant for baseball and stressing ev-ery syl-lable in a loud voice), Kira (the annoying Bajoran with a tendency to have tantrums) or Worf (the ultracool Klingon with a chronic foul temper). Every mission differs depending on the character and the objectives vary according to their skills. Kira will concentrate on stealth and sabotage, Worf on butchering everything in his path while Sisko tries it all.
Thanks to a modified version of the Unreal engine, The Fallen is looking decidedly gorgeous, especially in the away missions. The settings for these include a Dominion internment camp, a Bajoran monastery, a glacial wasteland and an alien jungle. The enemies range from DS9 favourites like the slimy Cardassians and the Jem'Hadar soldiers (the series' answer to the Borg) to alien monsters and a new race of biomechanical pirates called the Grigari. Luckily, there are plenty of weapons at your disposal (Bat'leths, standard issue phasers, phaser rifles with sniper scopes, grenade launchers, pulse rifles) and the control method promises to be closer to Hidden & Dangerous than to Tomb Raider.
Between missions you'll have the choice of wandering around the station before embarking on the next one, increasing the sense of depth and involvement already present through puzzles and interaction with other characters. We've already fallen to our knees in adoration.