May the Elite Force be with you.
When a game relies on one cool feature to support mediocre gameplay, we call it
gimmicky. When a game has a couple cool features but still basic gameplay, we
say it's decent. But when a game brings lots of cool features together and ties
them into the beloved Star Trek universe, we call it Activision's new Star
Trek: Elite Force II
Developed by Ritual Entertainment, Elite Force II is a solid, fun
first-person shooter. With the coolest boss battles this side of the MGS
series, a detailed story supported by good writing, outstanding voice acting
and multiple romantic endings, it's certainly a force to be reckoned with.
play as Lieutenant Alex Munro, who at the beginning of the game single-handedly
exterminates hordes of Borg, wrecks their ship and saves Voyager, which then
makes it back to the Alpha Quadrant through a wormhole. You are part (and also
the whole) of Tuvok's Hazard Team, a specially skilled squad created to deal
with situations too hairy (or scaly) for a regular Away team.
Unfortunately for you, your teammates are morons and constantly need to be
rescued, but fortunately for them you're armed like a Texan and have mad FPS
Upon returning to the Alpha Quadrant, the team is split up and you get...a
teaching position!? Swallowing your bloodlust, you wallow in the pedagogical
mire until Captain
Picard sees you for what you are - a god damned human apocalypse - and decides
to put you and your team to good use on the Enterprise. Exploring first, burninating
The missions are mainly linear, straightforward affairs. While occasionally
there seem to be different paths, actually taking them doesn't always work.
Furthering this somewhat twisted sense of freedom are dialogue options used
to create the illusion of choice without necessarily offering it. At one point
you're taken prisoner, and your captor tells you to give him his girlfriend
back or die. You can either say "OK, I never liked her much anyway," or "We
don't trade...blah blah...Federation yackity shmakity..." As obviously wrong
as the first answer seems, I thought it might anger my captor into doing something
brash, like killing me or breaking stuff. However, upon saying "Take her" the
game simply ends, and a screen tells you to pick your answers more wisely. It's
quite disappointing. If the guy had killed me after I gave my answer I would
have been satisfied, but just having the game mysteriously 'end' was irritating.
However, as far as romances go the dialogue options are well implemented if
a little PG. Unfortunately, Elite Force II's dialogue options never deviate
from the straight and narrow path of what a thoughtful, righteous Federation
Lieutenant would say. I suppose that keeps him in character, but it also seems
to limit the game a bit.
At any rate, Star Trek fans will appreciate the plot and attention to detail.
The Trek universe really comes to life in Elite Force II.
The gameplay is standard for an FPS with lots of strafing and jumping and
killing things. However, two things specifically set it above the fold: Bosses
and level design.
There are several boss and sub-boss battles in Elite Force II, and
they're all good (except for fighting the Nausicaan in the cage, which is way
too easy). The best boss battle involves an aging Klingon and his war-machine;
the guy has tons of weapons, takes forever to kill, is extremely aggressive
and requires nearly all of your ammo. Very nice.
of the in-game scenarios are impressive as well. There's always a correlation
between the plot and whatever you're doing at the time, so the gameplay never
becomes dislocated. My personal favorite was going out onto the hull of the
Enterprise and sniping Idryllians who were trying to hack into the ship's computer,
and then manning a blaster photon cannon and destroying enemy ships. A one man
army, all the way.
But the enemies don't really put up much of a fight anyway, at least in terms
of AI. Elite Force II opts for the quantity over quality, so you'll find
yourself exterminating wave after wave of moronic nasties rather than actually
have to think your way through a smaller number of smart ones. It's too bad,
as some strong AI would have really taken this game to inspired new heights.
The fifteen weapons make for some nice carnage. You get a federation issue
phaser which never runs out of ammo, which you'd think would suck, right? Wrong
- the alternative fire on the phaser packs enough punch to be useful throughout
the game and is very helpful against regular enemies when you're running low
on ammo. Nearly every weapon has two modes of fire, so there are plenty of ways
to dispatch evil doers.
The puzzles in Elite Force II are fine if a little repetitive. The
two main types involve your tricorder; one is basically Pipe Dream and the other
has you manipulating some numbers to get a couple wavelengths to match up. The
latter puzzles are very easy once you figure out how the parameters work, but
some of the later Pipe Dreams puzzles are tough. The real meat of the game is
the action, and the puzzles never keep you from that for long.
Graphically, Elite Force II is a mixture of good and great. The game
runs on the Quake III engine and Ritual did a great job tweaking it to
make it feel fresh.. Kleeya, the female Idryllian, looks amazing, by far the
hottest video game chick I've ever seen. Hooray for softcore!
The same goes for the sound. The effects are fine but the music is sweet.
Parts of Elite Force II (specifically the parts involving insects that
chew through metal and have acid for blood) are straight out of Aliens
and the music is appropriately intense. The voice acting is superb, with Patrick
Stewart and the guy who played Tuvok lending their actual voices.
Elite Force II shoots par for the course by including decent multiplayer
options. While not a new Counter-Strike, the game features some cool
multiplayer arenas, even if the play modes are ubiquitous (Deathmatch, Team
Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, and a Defuse the Bomb sorta thing).
Star Trek: Elite Force II is full of impressive features and offers
very solid FPS fun. A strong sequel all the way, and with a little attention
given to linearity and dialogue options/romances, this series could go where
no FPS has gone before.