Be the Borg…
Focus… Concentrate… Insert some hardware… Oh yeah, and go pick up Star Trek: Borg from your local software store, so that you too can take part in the collective. Avoiding the collective is futile.
Trekkies everywhere will tell you that one of the best things to come out of the Star Trek: The Next Generation television series was the introduction of the Borg. For the few non-trekkies reading this review, the Borg are an intractable, collective life form made up of cybernetically modified humanoids. They are the ultimate communists, working solely for the collective (like ants or bees) and sharing a single collective consciousness. Anything they encounter they either assimilate or destroy.
Star Trek: Borg is an interactive movie that allows you to make a few choices, solve some simple puzzles, and help the plot progress to its conclusion. It looks just like an episode of any of the new Star Trek shows, right down to the fonts, and this is hardly surprising. The writer (Hillary Bader), director (Jim Conway), and composer (Dennis McCarthy), have all made regular TV episodes of the show. The only regular actor who makes an appearance is John deLancie, known to viewers as “Q” (totally different from the James Bond “Q”), another STTNG favorite.
The video itself is very high
quality, runs flawlessly full screen, and has production values equal to that
of the TV Show. It looks great on both the Macintosh and the PC. Basically,
this is as good as FMV is going to get until they finally release DVD. (If you
understood that last sentence, I hereby pronounce you a nerd).
Did you ever see that episode of M*A*S*H where the story took place from the point of view of a wounded soldier, or that Hitchcock film with Humphrey Bogart? The same sort of first person camerawork is used here. Aside from a few cuts here and there, you see everything from the perspective of Cadet Quaylan Furlong.
Your father was killed by the Borg 10 years ago aboard the USS Righteous. You thirst for revenge, but namby-pamby StarFleet doesn’t want you anywhere near the Borg. Enter “Q”, a mischievious all-powerful space god, who offers you the chance to muck about with the space-time continuum by traveling back in time 10 years to help your father fight the Borg.
He inserts your consciousness into Lt. Sprint, a Bijani friend of your father’s and Security Chief aboard the Righteous (Sprint was gonna die anyway). “Q” himself commandeers the body of the ship’s doctor, Quint, who was already irritating the crew enough that nobody notices the difference.
As you move through the interactive movie, you are occasionally presented with ‘decision points’ where the cursor becomes a spinning Borg cube and you must select an object or alternative. Select incorrectly, and you generally have the opportunity to try it again. There are several scenes that you MUST select ‘incorrectly’ first and learn from the result so that you can move on correctly when you get to ‘replay’ the scene. You will actually have to be assimilated by the Borg several times (these are the best parts of the movie) before the successful completion of the game.
You also have a magic tricorder
(a Star Trek scanning device) that “Q” gives you. With it, you can pause the
action at any moment and point the tricorder at nearly any person or object
in the video. You get a full readout complete with picture, text, and sarcastic
voice-over by “Q”.
In fact, “Q” is really the glue that holds this little adventure together. He has noticeably aged (for an omnipotent being), yet he mainains his patented charm and charisma despite the receding hairline. The ability to replay scenes only makes sense if “Q” is there to bend time for you. Star Trek has never been known to take the physical laws of the universe too seriously, and “Q” provides the perfect excuse to play it fast and loose once again.
However, there are a few flaws in the game (you knew I was coming to that). First, some of the ‘decision points’ require you to enter codes on panels or manipulate items (like a ‘hypospray’). But these panels and objects are completely unresponsive. Did it register when you clicked on the ‘3’? You’ll never know until you watch the video, and even then you may be unsure.
The game itself is a little too short. There are 120 minutes of video, which is great, but I solved the game in about 2 1/2 hours. With no real replay value, you just don’t get a lot of time for your money. If it takes you longer than that to solve the game, you may become frustrated by the fact that you cannot fast-forward or skip the video. If you’re stuck on a puzzle, you get to see that video clip over and over again until you get it right.
Star Trek: Borg is basically a very well made ‘choose your own adventure’
video. The magic tricorder also gives it enough depth to get rid of some of
the linearity. Star Trek fans who would give anything to see just one more episode:
this is the game for you! It also includes the ‘Picard Dossier’, an interactive
guide to the Borg for the die-hard trekkie. But, by its nature, this game is
going to have limited appeal. People unfamiliar with Star Trek probably won’t
enjoy it, but then, people unfamiliar with Star Trek probably aren’t reading
this review either.
So I say go forth, bold StarFleet Cadet, and screw around with space-time in the time honored Star Trek tradition. Oh yeah, and don’t forget to keep an extra phaser in your sock.