19 October 2000 | Dylan Chan
woosh, woosh... flog that dead horse!
The Star Trek merchandising bandwagon has been kicking around for a while now, and Voyager - Elite Forces is the latest in this long line of inter-galactic offerings.
The plot in Elite Forces is typical Voyager fare. Ship breaks down, ship needs new parts, parts located on a dangerous planet/space station/mysterious alien ship... hijinx ensue... The story and game settings are well varied and reflect the complexity of the overall plot. Indeed, Elite Force's best feature is it's story line and adherence to the classic TV Star Trek "feel".
Written around the ID Quake 3 engine, the levels and enemies on this First Person Shooter are superbly detailed and generate considerable atmosphere. I was reminded of First Contact more than a few times battling the Borg in EF. Of course with such impressive eye candy comes a price. Don't expect to be sucking down the frames playing on full detail, although truth be told the action never became so furious that I was hindered by the choppy play.
The weapons on offer are fairly uninspiring. There is of course the standard Federation issue hand-held phaser, the heavier assault rifle, and a number of other grenade, rocket launching and lightning gun clones borrowed from Quake 3. The main problem with the entire spread of weapons is that they all basically do the same thing in the same number of shots. Given that there is very little tactical advantage in using a varied selection as one might in Quake 3.. inevitably you play the entire game using the same gun.
The game itself is far too short, the levels are designed in the most rigid linear fashion I have ever seen in an FPS. You _must_ follow the same path, any attempted diversions or branch offs are stymied by barred doors and unyielding containment field. Consequently level completion can be achieved in surprisingly short time as it is simply a matter of following the corridor from point A to point B.
The first few levels offer a respite to the "keep shooting till their dead" strategy that dominates FPS type games. The mission objectives are cleverly designed and interact with the storyline well. However in later levels the gameplay returns to the enemy swarming, click the fire button as fast as possible action that we know all too well.
Elite Forces is not a bad game, it has a strong story line and eye popping graphics. The levels in the first half of the game are uniquely different and clever in their approach. Never the less, I felt a bit cheated at the speed in which I was able to finish the game and consequently the replayability factor is quite low. Similarly, the game play wasn't all that I had hoped for, some more battles with the Scavengers who showed a decent amount of AI, taking cover behind crates and the like would have been nice. The swarming berserker rush of mechanoids and oversized bug creatures in the latter half of the game loses lustre very quickly.
The game stays true to the TV series, something the nerds will appreciate. If that kind of thing doesn't bother you.. well, it's still good for a couple of days worth of entertainment..