Take charge as commanding officer of the Federation, Klingons, Borgs, or Romulans in Star Trek: Legacy and lead your task force of war ships into intergalactic battle. Featuring the voice talents of William Shatner, Patrick Stewart, Avery Brooks, Kate Mulgrew, and Scott Bakula, the game offers a three-series single-player campaign, or multiplayer action that spans the history of the full Star Trek story beginning with the original series in 1966 and ending with Enterprise in 2005.
Select from over 60 spaceships including the Enterprise, the Borg Cube, the cloaking device equipped Klingon vessel, small scout ships, light cruisers, and more while also choosing a captain and the equipment for battle. Navigate your fleet of up to four ships through nebulas, wormholes, planets, and stars as you avoid or engage the enemy in small two-craft skirmishes or large-scale combat featuring over a dozen ships fighting at one time.
Complete missions and earn command points by taking direct control of your space cruisers or by giving your fleet universal orders. Earned points can be used for upgrades including weapons, shields, engines, or completely new vessels. Options to customize your fleet are included so you can stand apart from other players cruising the online multiplayer environment, which offers both competitive and cooperative gameplay.
William Shatner is 75 years old. He looks great for his age, but let's face facts: the odds of getting him to perform as Captain Kirk again in a Star Trek production that includes all five captains from the long-running series are just about nil. That's only one of the many, many missed opportunities on display in Star Trek: Legacy, a tragically mediocre space combat game. It didn't have to be that way. This game could have been the be all and end all for Trek fans and action gamers alike instead of the sad capstone to a long history of crappy licensed video games.
The game starts off well enough. Star Trek: Legacy places gamers in the center seat of a starship commander. In addition to their own ship, players can also take command of a taskforce consisting of up to three other vessels. Players can give remote commands to their ships or jump around and command them manually if the need arises. For a Trek nerd, this is easily the game's highlight. There are about 80 vessels in the game, covering the franchise's four major races and every series and movie. The level of love and care lavished on these models really comes through. Every major Starfleet vessel, from Captain Archer's NX-01 to Kirk's original ship to Picard's Enterprise-D and E, is represented, looking almost exactly the way they did on the television shows. As ships take damage, pieces of them fly off, they get carbon scoring across their superstructure and they trail beautiful strings of plasma. The sound effects for these explosions are excellent, and those for phasers and transporters are spot-on reproductions of the originals.
It's too bad that the rest of the game's graphics don't match up to the love and attention paid to the ships. Ship and starbase breakups are a joke. When something in Legacy is destroyed, it cracks up into huge polygonal objects that twist around and pass through one another. The game also tends to duplicate pieces of what's being destroyed multiple times during an explosion. The first time I noticed this was watching the Enterprise-D be destroyed and I realized that there were six engine nacelles swirling through the wreckage. Every inch of outer space is so filled with multicolored nebulae that at times I thought the Federation had recently colonized a lava lamp. Planet models are way too small in relation to starship models and the collision system is just silly -- objects just bounce off one another. This wouldn't be so bad if said bouncing didn't screw up an already problematic targeting system.
Trek fans will be fairly pleased with the storyline -- if they can follow it. The script (or at least the parts of it that survived), written by veteran Trek scribe Dorothy Fontana and Derek Chester, is very good. It details a bizarre plot by a long-lived Vulcan scientist whose convoluted plot manages to involve all five of the series' captains. The bad news is that the storyline can be a bit hard to follow. Missions that were cut prior to release ended up bowdlerizing the story, resulting in strange jumps in the narrative, plot twists that come out of nowhere, a strange lack of motivation for some of the actions that take place and a general unsatisfactory feeling to the single-player campaign. Fortunately, the main menu has an "Extras" button that contains some rough animatics for what were obviously planned as cutscenes. These should help gamers piece the story together, though it's pathetic that Mad Dog had to resort to putting in half-finished work just to hold the story together. All five captains do a decent job reading their lines, although some are obviously more enthusiastic than others (Scott Bakula sounds bitter, probably over Enterprise getting cut short).
The game starts to break down pretty rapidly after that. To start with, the controls are simply atrocious. Players control their ships from a third-person perspective and use the WASD keys to change their ship heading and the mouse to control camera movements. That seemed to be the plan at least, because in practice this system barely works. It's incredibly hard to get a lock on the ship you actually want to target and it's impossible to actually lock the camera in place. Ship movement and steering is very slow. In some sense this is true to the franchise as players are using the space equivalent of battleships, not fighters. There's slow, and then there's steering like a pregnant whale. Most of Legacy's ships fall into the latter category.
Even this might have been overlooked had the battles been tactically interesting. No such luck. The missions and combat situations in Legacy are just boring when they're not tear-out-your-hair frustrating. Most involve blowing the crap out of a lot of Romulan ships until the game says you've won. When the game does try to present more elaborate scenarios, they're so badly designed and unbalanced that they're just frustrating rather than fun. One insanely difficult mission where the player has to shoot down stellar fragments before they hit several planets is guaranteed to send most players screaming toward the Neutral Zone. Players had better get used to frustration since there's no in-mission save or checkpoints. This means that one screw-up in an hour-long mission can send the player back to square one.
Another delightful mission requires players to disable the engines on three specific Romulan transports during a battle with over 40 ships flying around. In addition to the general targeting and maneuvering woes, players will also have to use subsystem targeting. Good luck figuring out how to use it. Both the instructions in the game and in the manual are flat-out wrong. Additionally, the instructions in the in-game tutorial weren't translated from the Xbox 360 version to the PC; they tell the player to use the left stick and press the A button. Then there are the instructions for using a cloaking device -- which are nowhere to be found. Ship AI is pretty decent, which is a necessity since their willingness to actually follow the player's orders is spotty at best.
The game comes with a Skirmish mode that allows players to pit up to 16 ships on four teams against one another on a variety of maps. I was really looking forward to this because I wanted to recreate some classic match-ups. In my first game, for example, I really enjoyed pitting the Enterprise-D against the E. When I explored further, however, I realized that even this mode got screwed up. There's no way to actually select the ships used by the AI. Instead, the skirmish options only allow the player to choose how many points the AI can spend on its fleet. Naturally it always spends as many as it can. This means you'll be unable to do stuff like recreate Khan and Kirk's classic fight from Star Trek II. In my Enterprise-D versus E match, I had to play the D, since if I picked the E, the computer would pick the E as well.
In the end, Star Trek: Legacy reeks of missed opportunities and features cut to make a ship date. In any ordinary game, that would be sad enough. For this to be done to Star Trek: Legacy is almost criminal. This was supposed to be the 40th Anniversary game, the one that fans had been waiting for through all the years of dreck like Star Trek: Shattered Universe. Well, keep those hailing frequencies open. That great Trek game has got to be out there, and Star Trek: Legacy surely isn't it.
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