Captain, I find these new command consoles… perplexing. Review

Star Trek: Birth of the Federation Info

genre

  • N/A

players

  • 5 - 5

Publisher

  • Microprose

Developer

  • N/A

Release Date

  • 12/31/1969
  • Out Now

Platform

  • PC

rating

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

Revolution
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.

Main Map ScreenBirth

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 was another

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

the galaxy.

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.

Alien Race DetailWhile

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

the weaker.

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

Kya’shin
, 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.

REVOLUTION REPORT CARD

2.5
Rating
Large Star Trek universe
Random game generator
Many races
Really bad interface
Often boring
Disappointing graphics