"Space... The Final Frontier." Star Trek: Judgment Rites Limited CD-ROM Collector's Edition almost seemed like a last-ditched effort by Interplay's attempt at banking from the success of the Star Trek universe. However, that didn't seem to be the impression from the opinions of devoted Trek fans. Judgment Rites was already previously released, but this new package was not a remake, just a rehash of the same game with extra bonuses. For the game itself, the additions were new cinemas in the form of mini-movies and added voice-overs from the actual cast of the original Star Trek television show and movies. Not too shabby.
The rest of the package contained the following: a rather bland collector's pin, an impressive Collector's Disc CD (hosted by Leonard Nimoy a.k.a. Mr. Spock), a manual (of course), and a VHS tape of the episode Star Trek: The City On The Edge Of Forever. This package was a very rare one indeed. The game itself was satisfying and this CD-ROM Collector's Edition is a warm welcome to anyone's library of adventure games whether you already had the stand-alone game or not. It's Star Trek for crying out loud! And since Interplay had been delaying Star Trek: Vulcan Fury in 1999, this Collector's Edition was something to hold on to as you look back and realize you had controlled the characters you've always watched on television. All the voices from William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy to James Doohan and George Takei help enliven and move the story forward. And to play as Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy was a wonderful tribute to the late DeForest Kelley, too.
There are eight (8) multimedia episodes that take you to vast worlds of intrigue and mystery. Some of the names are very Trek-esque, such as "No Man's Land", "Federation", and "Yet There is Method in it". The puzzles contained within each are hard enough to keep you on your toes, yet not too difficult to make you throw the CD in the garbage. In addition to the prelude (which is done with graphics, not a digitized video from the show), each "episode" starts off with a captain's log and a flyby of the U.S.S. Enterprise, just like in the series. This new element alone warrants possession of this rare package. It's up to you to guide Captain James T. Kirk, Mr. Spock, and the rest of the crew on important missions to explore strange new worlds using a point-and-click mouse interface, as well as keyboard controls that are easy to get accustomed to. Beam down and communicate with aliens and other people. Discover clues to build your case in a trial. Collect pieces of artifacts or mix items to create weapons for escape from a fake Enterprise, or medical equipment to aid a crewmember. Think, but think logically.
Visually we get the same animation and character and background graphics as seen in Star Trek: 25th Anniversary. Nothing new here in that respect. They could've done so much more in terms of the resolution and color, but they decided to stick with a formula that worked. Most Trekkies don't mind the blocky pixels and bigheaded characters anyway. This is where gameplay defeats graphics any day. Unfortunately, animation is rather slow, particularly on an older generation PC.
One of the most memorable moments was the guest appearance and voice-over of William Campbell's infamous character Trelane, who is hilarious and sadistic in this game. Other noteworthy features were the music and sound effects. The music was fantastic and sounds totally Star Trek except that it's still in MIDI format. Being on CD, they could've changed it to the actual soundtrack of the show because the room for it is definitely there. The sound effects were almost exactly the same, however. Again, voice-over was done very nice and loud. It is amazing how they could sit through and record all that great dialogue.
The commemorative Collector's Disc shows a behind-the-scenes look of the making of Judgment Rites and everything else about this package. It explores why CD-ROM was the newest thing that would take the world by storm. And they were right. Leonard Nimoy was truly involved in the process of this Limited Edition package as he sat back and talked about Star Trek as well as the games, himself and his actor friends, and about technology in general. The late Gene Roddenberry also has an interview video on the CD where many questions were spliced so you don't have to wade through the entire run. The front interface consists of the Starship Enterprise's bridge, which is graphically breathtaking. You can move around inside by turning left and right or up and down which skips over to different consoles on the bridge that pertain to accessing the CD's various goodies. If only the game's graphics looked the same way...
All in all, adventure game enthusiasts will no doubt enjoy this limited CD-ROM collection, and Star Trek fans will embrace it. Since there were only 75,000 copies made worldwide, I will bet all the owners are Trekkies at the very least to some extent. Or is that Trekkers? Whichever, a game that beautifully contained the world of Star Trek in an exclusive package with rare bonus items should become an instant classic unto itself. Scotty, beam me up!
Graphics: Nostalgic graphics that lets you truly play in the Star Trek universe where no man has ever gone before. If only they could have upgraded it to 1995's standards.
Sound: Impressive sound effects, good music, and added voice-overs to make you lose yourself in the story. They could have done away with the MIDI, however, and instead used the actual series music soundtrack.
Enjoyment: A wholesome family entertainment piece of creativity, for all Star Trek and adventure game fans alike. A wonderful experience to say the least.
Replay Value: You'll want to play this one whenever you wish to enter the Trek world again and remember how it felt to play your favorite characters. With the additions of voice-over and cinemas, along with a Collector's Disc, pin, and VHS tape of one of the best episodes, what gamer wouldn't want to play this one over again from time to time? There are always little things people miss in a game like this.
People who downloaded Star Trek: Judgment Rites have also downloaded:
Star Trek: 25th Anniversary, Star Trek: The Next Generation - A Final Unity, Star Trek: Captain's Chair, Star Trek: Borg, Star Trek: Generations, Star Trek: Starfleet Academy, Star Trek: Bridge Commander, Star Trek: Starfleet Command
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