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Star Trek: Armada By John "Award" Del Percio, May 23, 2000
Developer :Activision
Publisher :Activision
Release Date :Early April
Demo Available :Yes - Download
Table of Contents

Closer Look

Direct Hit! Hype Holding at 69 Percent!

So now that we're on the same page of the basis for the game, what is the game REALLY like? Well, suffice it to say "humorous". To elaborate, the first thing you see when you enter the game, is the Enterprise, two escorts, and a construction ship. Obviously, as any Trekkie would do, I decided to play around with the Enterprise. I was delighted to hear that it was indeed Patrick Stewart doing the "ogre sounds" (by ogre sounds, I am referring to the brief 1-5 word clips uttered every time you select a unit or give it orders. The term ogre sounds refers to the commonly compared to game WarCraft from Blizzard, that has set a standard in how RTS games are viewed...for better or for worse). My enthusiasm dropped when I saw the ships attempting to maneuver. It appears that Data has been drinking a few too many bottles of Romulan Ale Motor Oil or something. The ship clumsily teeters about lumbering to and fro about its center, (I'm sure the Inertial Dampers were working overtime for that one, or the crew would have been assimilated into the Enterprise's back walls). Then watching the ship finally make a last balancing act as it whips around 360 degrees was nearly hilarious. Clearly, a bit more time should have gone into the physics engine.

Construction in the game is laughable as well. A construction freighter comes, and little people, or probes, or something emerge and begin constructing it. That is a bit too much like the development on the International Space Station is going currently. Not what I would have expected from 24th century Star Trek, where a simple tachyon emission will correct any problem. This is a minor "conceptual" flaw; however, and does not affect the gameplay or fun in one way or another. But when you're sitting there building, its nice if it looks good.

Defending the home turf
Slow but steady income
Forget the tractors, go brute force!
Scouting party 06351 under attack

Sound effects are a masterful strong point of Armada. The game depicts all sounds to the utmost perfection according to the movies and the series. The Phaser fire, Quantum Torpedoes, etc. all sound right, if only it was capable of playing more than one sound at once. One sound always preempts another, or worse, in the case of using transporters to repair another ship (?), you get to hear the wonderful transport sound loop for the entire repair, which can be lengthy for larger ships (Sovereign...ouch).

The storyline, as previously indicated, is very well done, and the cut-scenes are fairly good, and progress the story rather convincingly. The Federation units, are all fairly good (aside from the Sovereign's "magic shields"), but the Borg, is a different story. While attempting to play multi-player, my first three opponents dropped out of the game fairly quickly, leaving me to play the computer. This, fortunately, gave me a nice chance to see the Borg in action. While it was fun hearing the collective reply "unassimilated species engaged", and "Proceed to grid...", that was approximately where the Borg fun ended. While the sound effects are realistic, the rest of it leaves me in doubt. They designed buildings etc. that you never knew existed because nobody from the Federation ever got close enough to a Borg base to see. Introducing new units is fine, but I think that a movie is the best place for introducing new things that affect how a major species is viewed, not a RTS game. Moreover, the vessels they chose were, ehm, lacking. Some were the defacto standards (the Cube, the Sphere etc.) but when you start seeing the Borg Diamond that introduces more "magic" technology, I simply must question their methods. That is a minor detail, though, in comparison to the Borg Assimilator. Aren't ALL Borg units Assimilators??? And if only one must be designated as an Assimilator, surely, it should be the Cube!

Resistance is futile...
...Perhaps not
Laying waste to the Borg base
Borg Dilithium reactor explosion

Finally, I finally realized that I truly was in a temporal distortion, and have corrected my course. Indeed I had seen the menus AND the interface before, in its previous incarnation as StarCraft. While the engine is NOT the same (StarCraft was 2D sprite based, and Armada is a true 3D engine...though you'd never know it from its 2D overhead appearance), the interface and the menus were nearly identical. I'm utterly surprised that they have not been sued for some DMCA violation or something by Blizzard.

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