Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Harbinger is an uninspiring attempt to bring the experience of the television hit series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine onto the computer screen. Its poor production and gameplay make playing this title at most a mediocre gaming experience. Unless you are a diehard Star Trek fanatic, this game may simply turn into a laughable Star Trek experience.
The story of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Harbinger has some saving grace. You play Bannik, a Tirrion envoy of the elite Federation Diplomatic Corps. You are in charge to escort the ambassador to the space station Deep Space Nine to carry out negotiation with a strange alien race known as the Scythians. However, when you reach the wormhole en route to the space station, your shuttle is attacked by a group of vicious unmanned drones. You are enveloped in a plasma storm that causes you to crash into Deep Space Nine's shuttle dock. You survive, and proceed to talk to Captain Sisko about your ordeal. Soon after onboard the space station, you find out that your ambassador has been mysteriously murdered. It is your duty now to investigate this murder and to make the murderer pay for what has been done. In the end, you must save an alien race from the Gamma Quadrant and the Deep Space Nine station from total annihilation.
The production merit of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Harbinger is very poor. One gets the feeling that the game is hastily made and packaged simply to make a quick buck from the diehard Star Trek fanatics. The only value to this game is perhaps the attention grabbing plastic game box. Even worse, the publisher has billed this game as the "ultimate cinematic adventure". This claim is simply laughable since I have yet to find anything that is cinematic about the game. The only highpoint of the game is the beautiful insert inside the disc case. The insert is a picture of Deep Space Nine with the wormhole surrounding it in the background. Installing the game is a simple process, but you need to explicitly select your soundcard for both music and speech playbacks. An abridged version of this game is subsequently released as Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Harbinger Holosuite Missions that is packaged as part of the Star Trek Emissary Gift Set. It contains 3 different training missions from the Deep Space Nine Holosuite.
Gameplay in Harbinger is through a first person perspective. You walk about the space station looking for hotspots to click and characters to talk to. With each click of the mouse, you travel from a pre-rendered screen to another. Sounds pretty simple, huh? Not quite. During your trek you must complete some annoying and frustrating action sequences, such as defending the space station from a bunch of attacking drones by blasting them away. An option is available to set the difficulty level of the action or arcade sequences. The difficulty can be adjusted on the fly prior to each action sequence. An option is also included to perform an automatic save before an action sequence. Regardless, the game may be a lot more bearable if these sequences are not included in the first place.
On the other hand, an opportunity to interact with the cast of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is somewhat rewarding. It is an equally rewarding experience to hear the voices of the television cast. Almost all of the cast members are in this game, including Captain Benjamin Sisko, Major Kira Nerys, Odo, Quark, and the lovely Lieutenant Jadiza Dax (a Trill). Noticeably missing members include Dr. Julian Bashir, Chief O'Brian, Keiko (O'Brian's wife), and Garak the Cardassian. Despite their conspicuous absence, I still find it refreshing to see and interact with the remaining characters. Without them, this game may not even get any shelf space in a retail store! Some of the graphics are admittedly very pretty, especially the promenade.
This game suffers from a multitude of problems. Firstly, the action sequences are simply and totally unnecessary. They can be quite tough, especially if you have a fast system. Secondly, the animations of the computer generated characters are terrible. They all move as automatons in awkward and jerky fashions. When they speak, their heads do not move at all. Aside from a superficial resemblance to the faces of the cast, they behave only as uninspiring synthetic actors or actresses. Thirdly, the few video clips that exist in the game are all very grainy and distorted. Lastly, the voiceovers for the non cast characters are poor. The voice of Bannik should have been much better.
Only diehard Star Trek fans should consider purchasing this game. All other adventure gamers are advised to stay away from this title. Trust me, if you want a Star Trek experience, watch the television show instead.
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