Star Trek Armada II

Reviewed by: Michael Gallo, send e-mail
Published by: ActiVision, go to the web site
Mad Doc Software: go to the site
Requires: Pentium/Athlon 300MHz, Win95/98/2K/ME, 64 MB RAM, 900MB Hard drive space, DirectX 8.0a, DirectX 8MB 3D video card, 16 bit sound card, 4X CD-ROM, mouse, keyboard
MSRP: $39.99

The Borg are back and it's up to you to save the Federation from new and deadly assimilation weapons. The Borg and all of your other favorite aliens including the Cardassians, Ferengi, Romulans, Species 8472 (encountered in Star Trek Voyager) and of course the Klingons, are waiting for you in Star Trek Armada II. You are in control of Starfleet resources which includes star bases, Starfleet ships, ship yards, mining stations, orbital processing facilities, and other numerous federation battle assets and support resources. You can also play as one of the other races (except the Ferengi) if you prefer.

But hold on cadet. Before you can order a fleet of Defiant class vessels to destroy the Borg nexus, you have to build your fleet! Star Trek Armada II is a real-time game strategy game. As the name implies, real-time games are not turn based. There is constant action to monitor. You must be vigilant or you'll soon find yourself watching your newly minted fleet of ships reduced to incinerated rubble. You're responsible for mining metal, gathering Dilithium crystals, populating Class-M planets for future crews, conducting trade for Latinum, and finally for building your fleet at Starfleet shipyards.

You won't find much information on game play in the user manual. Instead of reading boring prose, you can undergo some Starfleet training through the multimedia tutorial that is built into the game. I loved this! I really felt like I was a young cadet undergoing training to fulfill my missions. The tutorial provides a thorough walkthrough of the user interface, gathering resources, as well as creating and controlling ships and fleets. The tutorial adds to the Star Trek 'realism' experience. Familiar voices from the Star Trek series (including Patrick Stewart - Captain Jean Luc Picard) are included in the game. I also thought it was very neat that each new mission opens like the beginning of a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode. Patrick Stewart adds a verbal entry to his log to introduce us to the mission at hand including the 'title' of the mission. I like this small stuff and it really added to the appeal of the game.

I tested the game on a 1.4GHz Pentium 4 with 256MB ram and an nVidia GeForce2 32MB video card. I ran the game in 1,600 x 1,200 resolution in 32 bit color. The game ran fine and graphics looked very nice. I did find the map scrolling to be a bit sluggish at higher resolutions. The maps used for each mission are larger than your screen and therefore require scrolling. To be fair, the game offers a smaller view of the map in the corner for quickly jumping around the bigger map. I found the game to be stable with no crashes on my Windows Me machine.

All in all, I'd say Star Trek Armada II is a pleasant gaming experience. There are a lot of neat special weapons on the Starfleet ships including (my favorite) a special torpedo that hits multiple enemy ships and grows in power with each successive enemy hit. I did find that the game play got monotonous after some time because I felt like I was being reduced to merely clicking to build ships sending them off, then building more. That's because, realistically, there's no practical way to manually manage a large number of ships using a fine degree of control. Consequently, the game offers some autonomy control options so that ships are free to act on their own in accordance with the general orders you have issued to them. I guess what I'm saying is that if you're an Admiral you'll like this game for its command and control aspects to game play. If you're a Captain, you'll not get as much pleasure because it doesn't offer a rich single ship play. That's not the fault of the game; you just need to know what you like to play.

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