To boldly go where some games have gone before.
Yet another Star Trek title reaches the shelves of software stores everywhere with claims of a great adventure and the name of its outdated movie title: "Star Trek Generations". I'd have to say it came up a little short.
While trying to outwit and stay one step ahead of Dr. Sorian, the villain trying to return to a paradise-like dimension by destroying entire solar systems, you play in 3 distinct styles of game play. Starting off in stellar cartography with an overall strategic view of the surrounding systems, you must decide what your next move is by using clues found by long and short-range scans, and predicting the Doctor's next attack.
Once you have decided upon a location, you may set course, and beam down to the surface, as you take on an entirely new 1st person shoot 'em up role armed with a phaser, tricorder, and any other necessary items. While down on the surface, you may encounter hostile targets, injured civilians, and mechanical droids, all of which serve a purpose and have something to do with your reason for being there. You must complete your mission objectives before returning to your ship, but luckily being under the kind, gentle, forgiving command of Capt. Picard, if you have been injured too much, you are beamed back safely to the Enterprise whether you have completed your mission or not.
If you thought bad guys are only down on the surface, think again. They also sail through space just like you and well, let's just say they're not the friendly type of people you'd like to run into. Being the worst of the 3 elements of game play, you are forced to fight enemies, ship-to-ship with phasers and photon torpedoes. This is the very least rewarding and almost entirely pointless part of the game. Adding nothing to the plot, I found it unnecessary and very unsatisfying.
The interface of this game was VERY poorly done. Taking up literally half of the screen, the control panels took away a great deal of action, and all for no point. I see no problems at all with reducing the interface, all Microprose would have had to do is reduce the size of icons and buttons that are far too big in the first place. The button setup was also bad. Having to use your mouse to aim a free moving cursor around the screen, while at the same time managing scattered keys to maneuver yourself from getting shot, they could have made the game a lot easier to play if they gave the same key setup as Doom (or even just the option to change keys).
The best part about Generations, that so many other adventure games have failed to include, is allowing your actions to have consequences. Not only does the plot unfold and continue on in different ways depending whether you fail a mission or not, but there also choices that you must make during actual away missions, and they also effect your progress throughout the game. The designers really excelled in having multiple ways of getting to a common goal, and splitting the plot into a few possible outcomes. Of course, the final word comes down to whether you prevented more than 1 solar system from being destroyed, but the many courses you can set to complete your mission is what makes Generations stand out from other adventure titles.
The game's graphic abilities are less than stunning, but nothing to sneer at. Understanding that you're dealing with a free 3D environment, you can't make huge 3D landscapes and expect them to run very smoothly. The texturing was very well done, and the variety of environments from a space station, to outdoors, to a starship, kept the primitive graphics fresh and comparatively interesting. However, Generations makes up for any lackluster graphics with outstanding cinematics including cast members: William Shatner, Patrick Stewart and many more. Not only does it include parts of the movie, but also unseen new footage specially made for the game.
The creators of Generations really went to all ends to make sure the sounds and music of the game were truly authentic. I must commend the Microprose for their ability to pay attention to detail because it's all there: from the sound of a firing phaser gun, to the pleasant sound of the computer voice.
For all you Trekkies out there, I'd consider throwing down some money for this game. I think it was a fairly good adventure for Star Trek fans, and I must also comment that while the game had a very close tie to the movie's plot, it didn't stick to the movie so closely that if you've seen it, you've played it. Generations does have plenty of original subplots that are unseen in the movie. However, I have a feeling that a less dedicated Trek fan, wouldn't be as enthusiastic about it. This game is definitely not the game to buy if you've never been interested in Star Trek, or have no familiarization with Star Trek at all.