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Klingon Academy By John "Award" Del Percio, July 20, 2000
Developer :14 Degrees East
Publisher :Interplay
Release Date :Early July
Demo Available : Yes - Download
Table of Contents

· Introduction
· Closer Look
· Facts
· Final

Hello, Computer!

One of the best things about the layout of Klingon Academy is the VOS (Voice Order System). While this name can be a bit misleading, it is merely a series of menus that allow you to give true Trek-like orders to your crew. This is the perfect setup for any of you who happen to own voice recognition software, Game Commander in particular. It lends itself well to barking orders at it.

Warpspace? Naa, a tractor beam!
Letting loose on a Miranda
Plasma leak on starboard nacelle!
For the Empire!

Keyboard....How Quaint...

If you're not so fortunate to have voice activation software, do not fear. The VOS lends for easy command of your crews, by simply using the number keys to select the proper menu/item for the situation, while still having your favorite keys bound to your most needed commands. The VOS, does have its drawbacks, however. Some things are rather difficult to reach, especially when in the heat of batle. Something like adjusting sensor range and power can be several menu levels deep. Trying to read the menus and find the corresponding number keys can be fatal while being pummeled by enemy fire; and the enemy isn't always kind enough to ignore you when you cloak!

While the keyboard is fairly well laid out, unfortunately this can not be said for the joystick. The joystick support is rather sketchy, with support for only 4 buttons, 4 hat directions, no rudder/twist, no throttle support, and no force feedback. While some of this may seem optional, any hardcore sim player knows that rudder and throttle controls are essential for survival. This leaves you a bit more vulnerable by keeping your other hand on the keyboard for rolling and changing speeds.

This sad fact may not be so gloomy after all, however, as they are hopefully going to be working on it in the up-and coming patch. Though one thing that *DOES* look sketchy, is KMB, the mission editor that was supposed to be released. Apparently Interplay management decided to suspend the project, at the dismay of the development team, and fans everywhere. While there is a petition going on to have it reinstated (even some of the development staff signed it), this is something important to consider when buying the game, if you do like to do some map editing.

Something that should certainly not go without notice is the manual. While, unfortunately, the European versions of the game shipped only with an online manual in PDF format, and a tiny packet on paper, the US version shipped with a manual nearly 300 pages in length, and is spiral bound. As the largest game manual I have encountered to date, it has plenty of space for every detail imaginable, and it utilizes it. It provides quite a bit of background story, ranging from the current status of the Empire to the history of your instructors at the Academy, tactical data on most every class of ship, and every race, and of course, game and interface instructions. It feels like the starship owners manual the Enterprise never had.

Nebulas: The terrain of fools
Bird of Prey flys ahead
Federation taking design hints from Romulans?
She's giv'n all she's got!

Hull Integrity Failing, Breaches Across All Decks!

While the gameplay and graphics seem to be fairing rather well, the structural integrity of the game; however, did not fair so well. In version 1.0, there were enough bugs for some of us to last a lifetime. Most people on the forums have attributed this to a copy protection software flaw. Based on the symptoms, I'd have to agree. The game suffers frequent freezes mid-mission, seemingly any time it has to spin up the CD for some reason, it has a bad tendency to lock up if accessing the CD on quit, it bluescreens sometimes asking for one of its CD's which may lead to more problems even if you put the right one in, it has constant stuttering of the sound and graphics mid-game, and on top of it all, it requires you to have Disc 2 in the drive whenever you start the game. This can be frequent if it crashes on you. Much of this however, is supposed to be cleared up in the first patch.

The game has some other shortcomings as well. There are not one, but *TWO* "spy" missions in the game, where you must sneak up behind another ship while not being detected by the patrolling ships. While the first one presents a few possibilities of beating it, the second one, no matter what anyone tells you (which will always be different depending on who you ask), seems to depend quite a bit on luck. It reminds me of the old platform jumping side-scroll games for the 8 and 16-bit console systems.

A few other missions have downright sad or overly simplified objectives; however, all-in-all, most of the missions are very well orchestrated. There are many other "features" to the game that you'll see listed on the box, that you'll pretty much never notice exist (even if they are very useful at times). One of these is the "gunnery chair". Yes, while being able to keep a track on your target can be useful at times, how many starship battles have you seen where weapons were useful firing in any direction but forwards? The same holds true here, only on *VERY* large ships do you have aft torpedo launchers, everything else is just disruptors that don't do all that much damage.

Also, the AI could use quite a bit of tweaking. The enemy has a very bad tendency to use ramming as a tactic. Usually, in the series and the movies, a collision at high speeds typically is a last-ditch suicide maneuver that creates a large antimatter explosion that will destroy both ships. This tactic is usually only employed when temporal travel is involved and you're pretty sure that after your destruction, you'll end up back where you're supposed to be. In Klingon Academy, however, the enemy seems to think it is a ride of bumper cars. While on the lower difficulty settings, the only time you'll be rammed is if you keep flying into them as they fly into you, on the hardest difficulty, I watched an enemy accelerate to max speed and High Energy Turn on me and smack into me as hard as he could. After this happened four or five times, I dropped back down a notch on the difficulty.

Another AI flaw is the fact that your wingmen seem to be the dumbest warriors in the Empire. I can't tell you how many times I was flying near a planet, and all of a sudden I see my wingman burning up in the atmosphere, then smack into a plant....then another. Three flaming balls of death hurtling into some poor person with a funny nose's back yard. This is also likely to be patched at some point.

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