The chronicles of Star Trek have traversed many galaxies over its history. Several shows have tried to capture its excitement and enthusiasm for mystery, but, to this reviewer, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine always seemed to be the most boring. Luckily, The Fallen rectifies the situation and brings much needed action to the series by way of a PC game. As a result, much of the mystery and storyline remain, with plenty of action to fill in the blanks.
The first positive by the designers was to divide the action into three perspectives, with each character's identity and race playing a role in a separate adventure. As the Klingon Worf, you begin on the Defiant with a limited amount of ammunition for a phaser rifle and a Bat'leth. The latter is all you can use to take out the Grigari robots, which makes a journey with Worf more difficult.
Both Sisko and Kira have rechargeable phasers that make killing enemies easier, especially the aforementioned Grigari. In fact, by configuring the phaser to a certain frequency obtained by using the tricorder, you can kill the Grigari with a solid blast, while with Worf, you have to carefully dodge the soldiers and hit them several times with his Bat'leth.
Although there are three separate journeys, in many ways they're essentially the same, and, at the end of each level, you're always presented with the same movie sequence. Many of the levels played by each character are duplicates, but some, like the planet Bajor and the wrecked space ship levels, can only be visited by Kira or Worf.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine -- The Fallen has an interface that's identical to such games as Heavy Metal F.A.K.K. 2 and Tomb Raider. Using a game pad or joystick only makes gameplay more difficult and the best method is to use the mouse and keyboard. Controls are easy to master: W, A, D, and X keys for movement, along with the mouse and mouse keys for firing weapons. Having a scroll wheel lets you cycle through all available weapons, which sometimes helps if you need to switch to a new one fast. In the final analysis, though, weapons will always be easy to select, since you never have access to more than five at any given time.
Most of the levels, like the TV show, are dark and foreboding, but feature good variety. The beginning levels, with the exception of Kira's Bajor level, are always on ships with dark atmospheres. In fact, you have to use your flashlight in many areas just to be able to see what's in front of you. After you get past these, you're rewarded with magnificently drawn areas on foreign planets with varying weather conditions. On one level, playing as Worf, you travel to another planet to search the wreckage of a star fleet ship. The initial stages are interesting, but graphics are quite a treat once you reach the immense ship.
Many games with dark themes fail to achieve the kind of variety in levels found here, so it's quite an accomplishment. Since the series is based on life on a space station, more than one of the levels takes place on Deep Space Nine. However, varying circumstances change the appearance of the station and the locales in which you find yourself. When the station is attacked by Grigari, for example, many of the doors and walls are destroyed or riddled with holes, and you must be on the lookout for bolts of electricity from broken power lines.
Even with the graphical variety of The Fallen, it doesn't have the cache of weaponry that Heavy Metal F.A.K.K. 2 possesses. Nevertheless, there are a few impressive weapons to be discovered during the adventure, and unlike many other games, they don't appear randomly or without reason. Here, they usually have something to do with the specific level. For example, you can only find the shock blade on the Cardassian base (a weapon that emits an electric shock and can be used in melee combat). It's a Cardassian weapon which wouldn't normally be available on another home world (e.g., the Dominion) -- it's an example of good attention to detail.
The lack of original weaponry may also be due to the efficiency of the standard weapons to which you have access. The phaser rifle is very effective, since you can use your right mouse button to magnify targets seen at very far distances, and take them out -- it's highly accurate. Sometimes, though, you have to modify the frequency of your standard phaser to kill the Grigari robots, its only purpose, and doing so with Kira or Sisko simplifies matters. The phaser also constantly recharges, so ammunition isn't a problem. The phaser rifle, shock blade, and other weapons need ammunition, and falling back on the phaser or Worf's Bat-leth is often your only option.
The story has a good surprise ending and keeps you fairly entertained throughout, but the final boss could've been more difficult. Defeating the final enemy is simply too easy, as once you've reduced him to a certain level, he goes to another room where the computer takes over and you're relegated to viewing the action like a movie. This takes away the feeling of accomplishment that destroying the evil of any final boss should give you. At the very least, you're entitled to fight the end boss after playing a game for a long period of time.
The remainder of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine -- The Fallen is well done and you won't regret playing through the entire game. It's filled with action and, though you won't fight against bosses every level, you come across plenty of deadly areas that can easily destroy you. The game rejuvenates the series, and it's definitely not tailor-made for "trekkies" only -- any action gamer can enjoy the adventure.
Graphics: With a good video card, the graphics run smoothly and never slow down. The detail is very impressive and even exceeds those of games like Heavy Metal F.A.K.K. 2 in its portrayal of environments and characters. Some sort of rain falls in some levels and even snow when you go to the Cardassian homeworld. Moving the camera too close to your player's body makes it disappear, allowing you to expand your field of vision.
Sound: The typical Star Trek classical score sounds great. You hear voices of enemies from far away and their admonishments to "stop right there!" when you're spotted. Using the actual voices of the real life actors for the characters is a terrific touch, since you don't have to deal with cheap imitation voices, trying to figure out who's who.
Enjoyment: The game is lots of fun up to the end. Each level takes a while, due to the large number of areas to traverse. In the crashed ship level, for example, you must explore many caves before you even reach your goal. The ending and final boss are two areas that could've used real improvement, and, in fact, can lead to disappointment.
Replay Value: To get the entire effect, you need to play at least three times, since each character has a few unique levels. Once accomplished, there's not much reason to replay, as items and enemies appear in the same general area each time.
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