There is no intelligent life here, captain.
From the get go, Star Trek: Hidden Evil has two tough obstacles to overcome.
One is the fact that it's a Xmas season Star Trek game, which historically aren't
well received (like Klingon
Honor Guard and A Final Unity). Plus, it is billed as an 'action/adventure'
game, the kind of hybrid that could mean just about anything. Trying to build
a Star Trek adventure is a very daunting task.
Sadly, Hidden Evil lives up (or is it down?) to these danger signs. Despite fairly good graphics and some entertaining puzzles, the game is hard to control and just too damn short.
For those of you who keep score, here's the plot. You play ensign Sovok, a human raised by Vulcans who is stationed on the galaxy-famous Enterprise. Your first mission takes you into the Briar Patch, which is the setting of the movie Star Trek: Insurrection. From here you'll discover ancient mysteries and a really weird pod-like thing.
Now since the game claims to be an "action adventure," it must have both
action and adventure elements. The action part generally consists of you pulling
out a phaser of some sort and blasting the heck out of something. You would
hope that the controls would allow for some of the basic action moves, such
as circle strafing. But no! You can only have two buttons down at a time (or
so), so there's no way to circle strafe while firing. Although you can adapt
to it, the control is not very tight and seems like an afterthought. The 2D
background/3D characters format doesn't really lend itself to heavy action.
The other type of action in this game is of the sneak-around-and-knock-people-out-with-vulcan-neck-grip
variety. This would be all well and good, except again for the finicky controls.
Since you have to be just the right distance from a guard, you'll spend a good
amount of time trying to get right behind the guy without touching him. Touch
him, and your whole plan goes kaput. A bit too, uh, 'touchy' for my tastes.
Now for the adventure portion. Most of the adventure elements in Hidden
Evil are very simple puzzles. For example, when you use ancient teleporters,
you have to solve a particularly easy block placement puzzle, which should take
any remotely decent gamer about 30 seconds to solve. There is the occasional
cool puzzle (hey, anything dealing with genetic splicers can't be all bad),
but these are few and far between.
Additionally, Hidden Evil is just too short. You could probably finish the game in 15 hours or so; while fine for an action game, this is a little skimpy for an adventure. Considering there's no multi-player, some of you might feel a bit gypped. Be forewarned.
The graphics are the industry standard 3D characters on 2D backgrounds. Like most of the games in this format, it brings with it some fairly annoying camera problems. Sometimes you get a camera angle that doesn't quite let you see what you're shooting at or looking for. But for the most part, the backgrounds are very imaginative, with appropriately moody colors.
The sound is okay, with your standard Star Trekkish beeps and boops mixed
in with good sounding phaser fire. Nothing breathtaking, though.
Although there are a few bright spots - fairly good graphics, some good puzzles,
the comfortable Trekkie setting - Hidden Evil doesn't really live up
to it's "action/adventure" claim. Considering its abbreviated length, this is
a game not really worth your hard-earned cash. This one's for hardcore collectors