Star Trek, The Next Generation: A Final Unity
Spectrum HoloByte have produced a fascinating game with Star Trek: The Next Generation. 'A Final Unity'. You control the Enterprise, and the fate of her crew is in your hands. Can you live up to the standard set by Captain Jean-Luc Picard? Here's your chance to find out. You are Picard, boldly going where no one has gone before, setting a new example for inter-species relations and solving the most puzzling of situations with a nerve of steel and the wisdom to match.
A Final Unity is a combination adventure/space action game which gives you the opportunity to guide the USS Enterprise from one challenging encounter to the next. The game involves some knowledge of the Star Trek universe, so for those of you who are like me and are not-so-avid followers of the TV and Movie series it might just be helpful to nip down to the local video store and hire a couple of episodes to brush up on your Trekker knowledge. Of course, this is not essential but it would give you a better 'feel' for the game and more appreciation of the atmosphere and the characters. Also, don't forget to check out the ship's computer which contains just about all the information you are likely to need. Want to know more about the Enterprise, its systems and its crew, or perhaps you need up-to-date information on other cultures such as the Klingons or Ferengi? You will find it all in here.
Your first challenge of the day comes in the form of a plea for political asylum by a small Garidian scout fleeing a much larger Garidian Warbird. Can you risk the Enterprise on an unknown ship from an admitted Federation-opposed race? Should you bow to your own morals and prevent a political act of tyranny? What does Starfleet have to say about all of this anyway? And can you ultimately stop an ancient alien race from rearranging reality and enslaving the Universe? (And this is just the start of your adventure).
So you are not absolutely certain that you are up to the task of captaining a starship, perhaps there are a few minor sub-systems where your knowledge isn't quite up to scratch -- well you can make it easier on yourself. In fact you have the choice of three playing levels -- Ensign, Lieutenant and Captain -- and choosing one of the former doesn't mean that you must relinquish your captaincy. Instead, according to your playing level you will obtain more or less advice from your crew to help you make your decisions when you encounter a tricky situation and, when embarking on any 'away' missions you will have more or less opportunity to chose your equipment and your team.
The game is divided fairly evenly between on-ship play, and away-team play. The on-ship play will see you controlling the Enterprise, from her tactical station to her engineering sector. You, as Picard, can personally take control of these sections of the ship and manage the spread of resources, weapons deployment (yes, there is some limited space combat) and repair status. Most of your time on-ship, however, will be spent conversing with your crew members and gaining an insight into the situation you face from both Starfleet and local presences. Navigation plays a part of your dilemma, and while all the controls are relatively simple to understand, it is a great boon for those of us who are less strategically minded to assign difficult tasks to the crew. Allow Worf to control tactical and he will fight your space combat for you, Geordy will control engineering. Of course, if you insist on doing everything yourself it is wise to consult the excellent and detailed manual that comes with your package.
The away-team play is similar in style to other adventure games where you must find and use objects to overcome problems. As situations arise you control a party of characters who beam-down to a planet's surface and interact with the people and environment there. Your away-team can be chosen by you, or the computer may populate it for you, depending on which difficulty level you are playing. Your party has a communal inventory of items and you may lead the mission through any one of its members and you can switch between them at any time. Each member can be interrogated to gain information to overcome problems, and if you get really stuck, they will even volunteer information after enough time has passed.
You will need to examine your surroundings carefully, and sometimes a little lateral thinking is required to keep you moving. This is where familiarity with the Star Trek equipment and standard procedure is most useful. It is also useful to know that most situations you encounter have some non-violent solution, it is rare that Picard is forced to 'draw' his phasers, but do not hesitate if problems arise.
Overall in this game there is little that experienced adventurers will find difficult to solve, however, this means that it is almost perfect for new and beginning gamers. If you really do come to the end of your tether, your trusty crew can always be turned to for help. After all, the Enterprise is not run by one person alone.
The standard of the graphics is exemplary. Beautifully drawn backgrounds on the away-missions and well done animations lend a favourable air to the play. There are, thankfully, few items that must be hunted for on-screen as objects that may be interacted with are usually simple to find -- again a boon for less experienced players. On-ship sections of the game are even better. Riker will shuffle uncomfortably and the feeling of really being on the Bridge of the Enterprise is quite convincing. Musically the game follows in the same vein as the TV series, with nicely done sound effects added to enhance your fun and, of course, all the characters from the series lend their voices to make it truly memorable.
Throughout the game you will come across several animated sequences which link the different periods of play. These cut scenes can run in a number of different configurations depending on the speed of your machine. If your PC can support it, the animations come in beautiful 65000 colours, while still running quickly in 256 colours for those of us without expensive systems. The lower configurations are still very clear and there is really not much detail loss between modes.
A Final Unity is a game which, ultimately, may appeal most to the real Star Trek fans but will provide an interesting diversion for general Science Fiction fans as well. So, trip into the far reaches of the Universe, creep behind enemy sectors and navigate your way through some of the most dangerous space known to man. (Er, don't you mean sentient life-forms? - Ed.) Meet with diverse peoples and solve quests wherever you go. Make it so!
Copyright © Adrian Carmody 1995.
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486/33, 8MB RAM, 3MB hard drive space, 2xCD-ROM, SVGA, mouse