Captain, I find these new command consoles… perplexing.
I do not often spend much time engaged in the trivial pastime of computer
gaming. However, when Birth of the Federation
arrived at the Game
office, it logically became my duty to review the game. I looked
upon it as a chance to hone my skills by engaging my mind against a potentially
accurate simulation of galactic expansion. I soon discovered that this task
would take every bit of my patience. In fact, it required the full application
of my highly trained Vulcan mind just to figure out the interface.
of the Federation
draws heavily from some noteworthy predecessors. The management
of planetary resources, galactic expansion, and technological innovations all
remind me strongly of the famous game, Civilization
. Additionally, the
galactic map grid and randomly generated star chart make it seem like an update
of the old text-based game Net Trek
. I have not seen that game since
my youth on planet Vulcan, during my brief studies under the learned T'Pau.
She forbade it to be played and deleted it from the academy computers.
Thus, I was pleased to discover that Birth of the Federation
turn-based strategy game, a genre I feel has been wrongfully neglected recently
in favor of shooters with big guns. The goal of your strategy is clear; take
control of any of five advanced races - Humans (Federation), Romulans, Klingons,
Cardassians, or Ferengi - and attempt to expand their power and influence throughout
This may be done by means of diplomacy, money, subterfuge, and the traditional
means of the more emotional races: phasers and photon torpedoes. The problem
lies in actually trying to achieve any of these goals. Depending on your chosen
race, the game's interface is designed to look like the computer interfaces
aboard their respective starships. But, while it is pretty, its use is obtuse
at best, and it may take you hours just to figure out the simplest tasks. I
find this commitment to form over function to be illogical and of little practical
value to an aspiring space explorer.
you explore, you will encounter many 'minor races' as well. I consider this
part to be well done. Many of these races were originally discovered during
my own explorations with Admiral Kirk, while others have been more recently
contacted by Captain Picard and others. It was fascinating to experience first
contact with these cultures a second time. Adding their strength to your empire,
by hook or by crook, is instrumental to victory.
However, even the most diplomatic of empires will sometimes have to fight,
and your ships must be able to enter combat as well as explore the galaxy. While
you have only rudimentary control of your ships during combat (you can give
basic orders such as 'strafe', 'charge', 'evade' and 'retreat'), the graphics
do become slightly more exciting. The ships and combat itself is rendered in
full 3D. Unfortunately, the framerate gets choppy and the battles tend to be
quite short and unexciting, with the more powerful fleet quickly destroying
In summary, I found Birth of the Federation
to be an unsatisfying intellectual
experience. While random maps and five advanced sentient races ensure many hours
of gameplay, the confusing interface and sub-par graphics could only entice
the most dedicated of Starfleet cadets. At times, I found it to be even more
tedious than one of Sarek's many readings of the FalCUikal
, a treatise on Vulcan Meditation. With the vast galaxy known to
the Federation as the setting, it is illogical that Microprose has managed to
create such an uninteresting game.