Star Trek: Invasion
Star Trek games have been noticeably absent from the current roster of consoles, but despite flagging ratings on Voyager, the franchise remains strong. Activision certainly hopes so...it has the rights to the license for a long time to come yet and is set to unleash the first of its console Trek games this summer in the shape of Invasion. If you think the screenshots look a lot like Colony Wars, you'd be spot-on. The development team, Warthog, is staffed by a large number of ex-Psygnosis team members who worked on CW. It shows throughout Invasion too...gorgeous lighting, crisp textures and clever particle effects make you think twice about whether this is really running on a PlayStation.
So what's it like? Well, oddly it's not what you'd expect from the Trek universe as it's unusually centered on dogfighting in very small fighter craft. The big capital ships are all present, but the focus is on swarms of ships fighting in some truly epiclooking battles. The story behind the game is also unique in that the team has been given the freedom to invent a whole new species--the Kam'Jahtae--an antagonist bunch who are trying to provoke war between the Federation, the Klingons, the Romulans and the Borg. As you progress you'll be faced with a variety of cool scenarios (to Trekkies anyway) including fighting a Borg Cube, taking on swarms of Kam'Jahtae ships and even pursuing renegade Federation starships. The story mode promises to be something very special, but the team has included an added bonus in the shape of a two-player dogfighting mode...something sadly lacking in other space combat games on the PlayStation.
Download Star Trek: Invasion
It's surprising that it took this long for a Star Trek game to hit the PlayStation, but luckily it looks like the first time's the charm. Activision is taking the franchise in a direction it hasn't gone before in this fast-paced 3D space action game that plays a lot like Colony Wars. This is no coincidence, however, as most of Invasion's team is made up of ex-Psygnosis employees. Their influence really pays of with the stunning visuals they've been so adept at creating. Paramount worked with Activision closely in developing, and the actual 3D models used in the movie were downgraded and crammed onto a PS disc. The end result is incredibly detailed starships, including a huge Borg cube you can fly inside. Trekkies start saving your nickels and dimes for this August release.
The Borg have invaded the alpha quadrant... again.
No, don’t let that stop you, this story really is quite gripping, if traditional. You’re an up-and-coming Lieutenant aboard the USS Typhon, a brand new carrier class starship packing the latest in Federation starfighter technology. The Valkyrie-class ship is a state of the art starfighter packing phasers, photon torpedoes, and tractor beams. Itching for some action, and generally bored patrolling the Federation frontier, you’ve been waiting for a chance to prove yourself.
Suddenly and without warning, the Borg return, threatening the well-being of every Alpha Quadrant inhabitant. This time they’ve brought over a dozen cubes with which to assimilate mankind and, without a doubt, they don’t plan on losing this time. Did I mention where they were heading? Do I need to? Well, Earth, of course.
Called into action, your character takes the frontlines, forming the first line of defense against the Borg fleet, as Starfleet attempts to marshal another defense force, in the tradition of the ill-fated Wolf 359. Can you, a mere starfighter pilot, defeat a Borg cube?
Welcome to the latest in a long series of games that break all the moral principles that Gene Roddenberry built Star Trek on. Star Trek: Invasion brings warfare in the Star Trek universe to a whole new level, brings back the most reoccurring villain in the series, and introduces yet another Incredibly Powerful Race That is Hostile to All Other Lifeforms, or IPRTHAOL. The game may call these new aliens the Kam’Jahtae, but I prefer to use my acronym instead.
If you’ve played Colony Wars, then you know exactly (and I mean exactly) how Star Trek: Invasion performs. The only thing different is the level of graphics quality and an auto-trail feature that helps you tail enemy fighters.
Just in case you missed the glory that was Colony Wars, I’ll recap. You control your fighter from a third person perspective and zip around a free and open space environment. For all intents and purposes, this is a space fighter simulation, save that instead of a joystick, you’ll get to use a gamepad. This makes it an inordinately difficult game unless you have a dual shock controller.
For gameplay, you get to incinerate fighters, destroy capital ships, guard freighters and more. Each mission has more than enough destruction and mayhem to satisfy anyone and the many and varied styles of missions will keep you entertained for quite a while. Missions can take place anywhere from space to the interior of a Borg cube.
The missions progress on a fairly linear path, moving to a new mission each time you beat an old one. One interesting feature is that many of the missions have secondary missions you can undertake to tie up their loose threads, or you can just leave them unexplored, moving on to the next Borg-busting encounter.
Invasion’s graphics are relatively well done, if a bit pixilated. Not bad compared to the normal fare of Playstation games. The most interesting aspect for the game’s graphics is to be seen in the fighter design for each of the races. The Federation and the Kam’Jahtae both have two different types of fighters and there are four more races in the game, each with a full complement of fighters and capital ships.
There is nothing neither spectacular nor mediocre about the music in Star Trek: Invasion. It has sufficient sound effects and music to support suspension of disbelief, but nothing about said sound is compelling enough to elicit tears.
How disappointing is it that I can use the term ‘Borg-busting’ and be justified? Very. Invasion gets high marks for being a relatively interesting clone of Colony Wars, recreating the gameplay that made flight sims fun on the PSX. However, it gets very, very low marks for ‘tossing down with the rest of the boys’ and taking part in the cliche and amorality that most Star Trek games aspire to.
I firmly believe that Gene Roddenberry had a vision for Star Trek, a vision of a brighter and more hopeful future, where weapons of war had no place in society. People who were motivated by their hearts and mind, aspired to a higher philosophy of peace and exploration, but were confident enough to defend themselves if need be. Adding starfighter based combat just makes me think that the next Star Trek series is going to be about Starfleet Intelligence bad-asses, packing phasers and itchy trigger fingers.