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Star Trek TNG: A Final Unity

From the Database of Home of the Underdogs

GAME DESIGNER:Mathias Genser

GAME DEVELOPER:Spectrum Holobyte

GAME PUBLISHER:Spectrum Holobyte

Copyright 1995, Spectrum Holobyte

One of the most underrated and overlooked games based on Star Trek universe, Star Trek: The Next Generation: A Final Unity (STAFU) is a great adventure game that is very faithful to the hit TV series. The game has a lot going for it: voice acting by the show?s stars, excellent hi-resolution cut scenes, many optional subplots, and the fact that it is very faithful to the Star Trek mythos. One of the game?s strongest points is the outstanding, original plot, which was written by one of the show?s screenwriters. As the game begins, the Starship Enterprise under command of Captain Picard is responding to a distress call from a small, badly damaged Garidian Scout ship that has just crossed the border into Federation space. Soon afterwards, a Garidian Warbird of Romulan manufacture decloaks behind the scout ship, demanding that the Enterprise stand down while it deals with “an internal Garidian matter”?yes folks, it’s time for another “Picard Goofs Around With the Prime Directive” plot. Not wasting too much time on debate, the Enterprise beams three refugees named T’Bok, Lucana, and Avakar aboard and takes off into the wild black yonder in search of something called the Lawmaker’s Fifth Scroll, an artifact that could unite different Garidian factions.

There are many aspects in STAFU?s gameplay that will make Trekkies reminisce about the show. These range from several television-esque aspects, such as the captain’s log narration, placement of the “episode” name in a showlike fashion, and full use of the entire officer staff in potentially hostile away team missions (a foolhardy risk I never fully understood). STAFU comes through with authentic voice acting for all characters by Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, and all other major characters from the series, down to the original voice of ship computer, Majel Barrett. The cut scenes, although few and far between, are very high quality and a lot of fun to watch. It is worth noting that STAFU is one of the first games to feature high-resolution cut scenes, something not many CD-ROM games attempt until later.

Similar to Interplay?s acclaimed (and superior) Star Trek: 25th Anniversary, gameplay in STAFU comprises of two main elements: strategy and interaction on the Enterprise?s bridge, and traditional point-and-click adventure gaming during away team missions outside the ship. On the bridge, you can access the ship computer for a (very comprehensive) database of people and places in the Star Trek universe, talk to the Garidians and crewmembers, plan your next move, and engage in combat. The combat interface is very hokey?it feels very fake, especially since most of the buttons you can push don?t really affect the outcome of battle. Fortunately, you can choose to have Worf handle battles automatically without your input.

The away team missions are the most enjoyable parts of the game. You will choose who to put in the team, equip them, then beam them down to planet (or space station) where adventure gaming awaits. There are some challenging puzzles that require cooperation from different crewmembers, and every mission has different degrees of success, thus allowing for some replayability. Missions may seem somewhat isolated, but they do link together quite nicely by the time you get to the endgame. Although you can fly the Enterprise just about anywhere in space, the game is linear enough that, given enough time and attention to detail, any stage can be overcome and Starfleet will tell you if you have performed optimally. (Straying too far from the mission-specific path would get you into sticky fights with numerous Romulan ships anyway). Though the game can be set to any one of three difficulty levels, using common sense and poking around with the mouse a lot generally gets the job done. Talking amongst the members of an away team is the best way to get out of a jam when you’re stuck.

With very high production values, faithfulness to the series, and a gripping plot, STAFU is a great game that was unfortunately overlooked by many gamers due to many annoying bugs and inexplicable slowness that were not fixed until weeks later with the patch. Although STAFU will naturally appeal to fans of the series, it won?t alienate the rest of the galaxy, either. Several good puzzles, plenty of character interaction, and a strong plot and subplots worthy of a real TNG episode combine to boldly go where few adventure games have gone before. If not for the disappointingly short length (I finished the game in less than 10 hours, at Captain difficulty level), some bugs, and annoying faux combat interface, STAFU would have entered into our hallowed Hall of Belated Fame. As it stands, it is still one top-notch Top Dog adventure that will please Trekkies and non-Trekkies alike. Two thumbs up!

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