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  Star Trek TNG: Birth of the Federation Review @ GU
  June 19th, 1999 by Stuart Macdonald

 

MINIMUM SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS:

Processor: Pentium 166mhz
OS: Windows 95+
RAM: 16MB
Hard Drive: 160MB
CD-ROM: 4X
Video: 2MB 800X600 x 16 Bit Color

RECOMMENDED SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS:

Processor: Pentium 200mhz
RAM: 32MB

CD ROM: 8X

TEST MACHINE:

Processor: Pentium II 450mhz
OS: Windows 98
RAM: 128MB
Videocard: ATI Rage Pro 128
Soundcard: Turtle Beach Systems Montego II (A3D)
CD-ROM: 32X

GENRE: Strategy
RELEASE DATE: Out Now (UK)
STREET PRICE: ~£30 ($40?)
Developer: Microprose
Publisher: Hasbro
Patches: None

Overview

"Another Star Trek game" I hear you cry with dismay, "when will they ever end?". Hey! Don't be so pessimistic, my teacher in primary school (the equivalent to your Kindergarten) always told me not to judge a book by it's cover, so perhaps the game won't be so bad. After all, wasn't that Klingon game half-decent?

Anyway, the latest in the long line of Star Trek games is this: Birth of The Federation. Already, this game is misleading you because the game doesn't only let you control the federation, but a federation. You can choose to control either The Cradassian Union, The United Federation of Planets, The Ferengi Alliance, The Klingon Empire, or The Romulan Star Empire in this Civilization-esque strategy game.

If you like the sound of this so far, and like the screenshots, please keep reading, but if you are turned off by yet another Star Trek game, you'd better stop reading now, because I'm not going to persuade you to purchase this game unless you like the sound of it.

In-Depth

As you can no-doubt see from the screenshots, this game is extremely complicated, so to start off with, you have to (and I mean have to) go through the tutorials that are included with the game. This would be okay, except that the tutorials (for some reason) don't come printed in the manual like most, they come as part of a 24 page Acrobat PDF file! What makes this even worse is that you can't switch between the game and Acrobat without getting a thumping headache, so you need to print out all 24 pages, in their glorified state with lots of graphics and a nice thick border around each so that even more of your precious printer ink is wasted.

Anyway, that's my ranting over for this review, because the game is actually quite good. As I've already said, it's basically just Civilization in space, and with lots of Star Trek style buttons dotted around the screen. As I've also already said, this game is immensely difficult to get to grips with at first, but a nice, big, detailed manual has been included with the game. Don't ask me why they didn't just include the tutorial in it... it would've bumped my review score up a couple of notches.

The gameplay is very much just building units, moving them around, and colonizing more of the galaxy, but you get control over an innumerable number of other options in the game, including where to position your labor force, and allocating resources to tactical sides of the game such as espionage. You can build loads of different structures in your colonized lands, which all have a great effect on the way that the game is played, and if you win or lose (a-la Civilization).

There are two ways to win the game; the first is to control 60% of the galaxy's population and solar system (which is called Domination), and the second - which has been given the name Vendetta - is to eliminate your two mortal enemies (each of the aforementioned races has two mortal enemies). In practice, it is probably easier to do the former, but the later can be more fun because you get to fight more.

Which brings me rather nicely to the fighting part of the game. At first when I played the game, I was becoming rather bored, so I skipped forward to the part in the tutorial where you get to fight. I was amazed to see that the scenes are rendered in beautiful 3D, rather reminiscent of the old X-Wing and Tie-Fighter games. The fighting is turn-based (as is the whole game), and is easy to control and see what you are doing.

The Star Trek style controls eventually got on my nerves, but you get so engrossed in the game after playing it for a couple of hours that you become completely unaware of them. In my opinion, there is so much that you can do in the game that it eventually becomes overcomplicated (you'll quickly forget everything that you learned in the tutorials, and start clicking everywhere just to view a silly message), but again, this subsides slightly with time.

Ratings:

Graphics 15/20

The graphics are not very impressive, but each race does get its own graphic scheme, and the fighting scenes are rendered in 3D. If you are not very bothered about the 2D graphics for the most part of this game, and don't mind the Star Trek style buttons, then feel free to put the score up a couple of notches.

Controls 18/20

The controls are at first hard to get to grips with, but the development team has done a great job making everything accessible from the one screen by use of the navigation window that pops up when the right mouse button is pressed. There is very little that can be done from the keyboard, but the mouse does fine, making it easy to select your path of movement.

Gameplay 19/20

In this game, it was the gameplay that impressed me most. I'm sure you all don't like the prospect of 'another Star Trek game', but I assure you that this is the best yet. You get thoroughly engrossed after about an hour of non-stop play, and this game will quickly swallow your weekend (and a lot of time after that). There are probably too many options, but every single one makes a lot of difference to the way you play the game, and if it ends in your demise or conquer.

AI 19/20

The AI is good, I can't complain. When you select a point to travel to on the map, it always takes you the shortest way, and the enemies aren't by any means dumb, retreating from battle if they know they are outnumbered. You can normally bribe other alliances to do things for you (sign peace treaties, etc.) with your hard-earned cash, but if you've been especially nasty to the beforehand, they will refuse, and continue to laugh at you while you struggle in battle with your remaining transport ship.

Multiplayer 10/20

Multiplayer in this game could be better. There aren't any game servers, you have to go through some other means, probably by ICQ'ing another fan of the game, and asking for his IP. TCP/IP is available, so if you are lucky enough to be on a LAN, you can have a great game against your mates, but for Internet play, this game isn't a Half-Life beater. Needless to say, if you play this game on-line, don't come to me complaining about your massive phone bill!

Overall: 91%

You don't need to be a fan of Star Trek to enjoy this game, but it does help. You should also have a free weekend - don't say I didn't warn you!

Questions, comments, suggestions? email me!

+ Pluses
  • The fighting is in beautiful 3D
  • Lots of depth
  • Addictive

 
- Minuses

  • Most of the game is in 2D
  • Multiplayer is lacking
  • Too much depth
 

screen shots

Screen shots taken with Hypersnap DX


The main game screen

Is that a dog?

You can build loads of things


Arrrgggghhh!!! Too much detail!

The Romulan theme...

...and my favorite, the Klingon theme



Added:  Saturday, June 19, 1999
Reviewer:  Stuart Macdonald
Score:

 1  

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