Star Trek: Review!
One game license can spawn titles covering a wealth of genres. Ranging from Adventure games (Star Trek: Judgement Rights) to RTS (Star Trek: Armada) to FMV fest (Star Trek: Borg) to third person shoot-em-up (Star Trek: Hidden Evil), and even to Edutainment (Star Trek: Omnipedia. Okay fine, it's a stretch), the Star Trek license has boldly gone where many have gone before. These games have ranged from pretty good to pretty darn mediocre.
So now the Star Trek license is trying to cash in on the phenomenon known as Colony Wars with their own space combat offering, Star Trek: Invasion. Although surprisingly well made graphically, aurally, and, uh, olfactorily (err, that's just my gym sock), it loses shield strength in the gameplay department.
It seems that the old PlayStation still has some strength left in them there bones. The graphics in ST: Invasion are downright impressive on the aging system. Besides the ship models (which are gorgeous), and the lighting (just fabulous), the sheer number of things that can be shown on the screen at one time is just incredible. Being in the middle of a full enemy assault, watching dozens of enemies blasting away at carriers in bright Technicolor is truly a sight to behold. The engine is just chock full of effects. You've got photon and quantum torpedoes straight from the TV show/movie, terrific looking phaser shots, neat impact effects when phaser hits shield, and even cool planets lulling around the background.
The control scheme is very foreboding at first, with lots and lots of things you can do and no instantly obvious structure to the control layout. If you are to look at the control configuration screen, you'll notice that every button has a meaning. Even some button combos and double taps have a function. After playing the game for 15 minutes or so, you'll be glad you have all those buttons. Locking on, changing weapons, and calling reinforcements all become near second nature. The steering with the directional pad can be a little too sensitive, but the analog pad works just fine with practice.
While all the standard features for a space fighter are there (like lock on, damage indicators, etc.), ST: Invasion includes some clever additions. The most useful is the lead indicator. Your phasers take some time to get from point A to point B, so if you shoot right at the other ship, it'll have moved by the time the blast gets there. The lead indicator is a little box that tells you where to shoot if you want to score a hit. While PC games like Starlancer and Freespace 2 have this feature, few PSX games have it. You are also able to get a "Motion Lock" on your opponent, where your ship is auto-steered toward him so you don't lose him easily. Fairly useful in the heat of battle.
The sound is quite good (although there shouldn't be any sound in space, but anyway...). Explosions and phaser fire are appropriately Star Trek, while a deep orchestral score creates the mood. And of course, any game with Patrick Stewart and Michael Dorn supplying the voice acting gets the nod of approval.
So where does this game go wrong? The primary problem is it's repetitiousness (whew, spell that one three times fast). While different missions have different objectives, they normally involve wave after wave of enemy craft coming to attack you or some ally. In one mission, I remember dealing with 7 waves of fighters coming at me in succession...what I like to call, "Galaga Syndrome." If you've seen 3 waves of fighters, you've seen them all.
The other problem is the two-player mode. While it looks just as good as the single player, it's limited to a simple deathmatch game, with or without computer controlled enemies in 4 arenas. After you've played this mode for a bit, you'll realize it's not much of an addition. It's far too easy to lock on and fire a quantum torpedo at your enemy (those things are nigh impossible to dodge) and score an easy frag.
ST: Invasion, while sporting some of the best game mechanics I've seen recently, just simply doesn't have enough variation to keep it going. The afterthought two-player mode doesn't help much either. So unless you are an Ultra-Trekkie (Wow, how 'bout that for a super hero), this game is probably not worth it. Beam me up, Scotty (Oh, and the mustard is coming ASAP).