What was wrong with the old worlds?
Okay, okay, so I admit it. I'm a Star Trek fan, although I don't have the latex forehead ridge or the plastic pointy ears to prove it. Torment me if you must, but I've tried never to miss an opportunity to watch all the shows.
As an admitted Trekkie (Trekker, whatever) and an avid gamer, I hate seeing the Star Trek licence used for a truly crappy game. Although it is classified as an RTS, many parts of Star Trek: New Worlds are so glaringly bad that that those who hold the genre to heart would not want anything to do with it.
The story is really far fetched, even for a Star Trek game. An accident occurs during a Romulan weapons test, causing a whole new planetary system to appear, complete with new races and everything. The Federation, Klingons, and Romulans, being the enterprising entrepreneurs they are, decide to colonize the planets. Just the excuse needed to have a ground based Star Trek strategy game!
For the most part, the graphics are at least pretty. The best graphics are seen in the battles, where the phaser effects and explosions are ultra-cool. They use everything from lens flares to really neat transparency effects to show the action in all of its geeky glory. The actual game is fully 3D, with all the hills, valleys, and lakes rendered nicely.
Notice I didn't mention trees, because they are rendered horribly. At a distance, trees show up as blurry pictures. As you get closer, they magically disappear and then reappear as nice 3D foliage. There is an extremely glaring seam during this change, which is consistently obvious and annoying. This may not seem like much but believe me, it gets on your nerves.
If you've ever played a good RTS in your life (StarCraft, Total Annihalation, or the more recent Ground Control), you know some of the things that make them good. For example, units must quickly do what you want, the interface should allow you to see the status of your installments at a glance, construction of buildings should be quick and efficient, and the technology tree should actually make some sort of sense in the end.
Sadly, New Worlds has none of the above.
First off, your actual troops are slow, clunky, and easily confused. Even those ships that are considered fast take forever to start up, and still take minutes to get to their destination. Let's not even mention how slow your heavy artillery moves.
It is extremely difficult to know what's going on in your camp while simultaneously doing anything useful. There is only one major display of information, which constantly changes depending on what you're doing. For example, if you go to build something and you are told that you do not have enough resources, you must remember the values of the resources and exit the menu to see your current resource levels. Sound confusing? It is.
Which brings me to my next point. Building structures is horrendously annoying. Say you want to build 5 disruptor cannons to protect your base. You have to click 'build', then click right three times (since there are only three buildings shown at a time in the menu), click on the cannon, then click on where to build it. To add insult to injury, there are no shortcut keys, forcing you to follow this same sequence of clicks every single time.
Your tech tree doesn't make any real sense. In most RTS games, you have two types of buildings: those that lend support by giving you new technologies, and those that actually make units or blow things up. There's usually a logical flow to the order of construction. Here, of course, logica has been thrown out the window. Why do you have to build a shield generator before you can build a stupid cannon? The world may never know.
To top it off, you have no way of telling where you have explored previously, or what was there. Most games have taken the Fog of War system to be the standard. That is, most of the map stays black until you've seen it once, then it's grayed out, showing exactly what you saw last time you checked. In New Worlds, you can see all of the terrain from the start, but the buildings are a mystery. Even if you see a building, it will dissapear the moment you move your units away from it. This makes it excruciatingly difficult to search for anything, since you have to remember exactly where you've been before.
Other mistakes include 6 (count 'em: 6!) types of minerals to mine, no flexibility on where to build your base, some useless camera views and bad building animations. And perhaps the most retarded problem of all is the fact that you CANNOT SAVE YOUR GAME. Well, you can, but only at the end of a mission - not during it. Uh, hello?
The sound isn't much more than mediocre, with some blasting effects, a few construction sounds, and of course large buildings going boom. The worst sounds in the entire game are the "reminder" voices that tell you when you're low on power or out of minerals. Frankly, the voices get really irritating, especially after hearing 'em thirty times in a row, saying the exact same thing each time. Ugh.
Star Trek games are rarely excellent, but this one is just plain bad. The horrible game mechanics will keep all but the most die-hard Trekkies at bay. While the graphics might keep it from being a total loss, it's still far from up to anyone's standards. Give this one as wide a clearance as you can.