Just about anyone who has seen the original Star Trek television show, any of the "Next Generation"-era series, or one of the several movies based on the franchise has probably daydreamt of sitting in the Captain's chair shouting things like "Evasive Action!" "Red Alert!" or "Prime Photon Torpedoes!" as a well-trained crew rushes around pressing unmarked buttons and the background music swells.
Now you can 'make it so.' This six CD-ROM game, packed to the brim with full-motion video and (over)acting from the real Admiral James T. Kirk ($William Shatner) and Captain Hikaru Sulu ($George Takei), lets you start from scratch at the fabled Starfleet Academy. There are dozens of practice simulator missions available to give you the experience and skills you'll need to navigate the heavens, pick up lost travelers, and (of course) blast nasty aliens into oblivion.
Knowing what not to blow up is as important as having quick reactions, however. No matter what your intentions, it seems that battle always breaks out with the Klingons and you'll constantly face off against the Romulans too, but defending innocent craft always demands top priority.
Though always well explained at first, the missions are often updated en route. Small errors in judgment can result in an entire mission having to be repeated. Oh, and don't try firing your phasers anywhere near the Starbase -- this results in a very embarrassing court-martial!
The gameplay seems involved and complicated at first but with a little practice the program soon becomes more user-friendly. Your bridge is staffed by efficient but untried cadets, who do much of the work for you. Taking control of a particular command console is as simple as double-clicking on it. Many of the commands are entered by two-keystrokes on the keyboard and after a few short trial runs the business of flight and navigation seems fairly straightforward.
The game comes into its own in the fight sequences. When played on a Pentium 166Mhz machine (or better) with at least a 4MB graphics card, the visual action is superb. After the first few hours are invested in mastering the basics, the desire to fully qualify as a Starfleet Captain is strong.
A rudimentary knowledge of the Star Trek universe is useful while playing this spaceship simulation, although the game comes with enough technical and reference data to satisfy even the most ardent Trekker.
Graphics: 3-D graphics and backgrounds give depth to the flights and combat scenarios.
Sound: Great special effects and soundbytes from the series
Enjoyment: A sense of real achievement comes from each successful mission
Replay Value: Multiple options for gameplay enable the sim to be used by almost anyone
People who downloaded Star Trek: Starfleet Academy have also downloaded:
Star Trek: Bridge Commander, Star Trek: Klingon Academy, Star Trek: Starfleet Command, Star Trek: Starfleet Command 3, Star Trek: Armada 2, Star Trek: Armada, Star Trek: Starfleet Command 2 - Empires at War, Star Trek: Generations
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