Star Trek: Birth of the Federation
April 14, 1999
(IDG) -- Enough is enough. Surely my fellow Trekkers are just as bored with all the Star Trek games that've been released. Over the years, we've tolerated puzzle-minded adventure games, so-so flight-combat games, and a first-person shooter. What's next, a computerized version of the Star Trek: The Next Generation Collectible Card Game? I don't want another Magic: The Gathering Online.
We need a flagship gaming experience on par with Civilization II. I want to build my own Federation starships (lots of them!), outfit them, and send them straight into Romulan space with a dire message: "Listen up, you Klingon lapdogs. Your pitiful existence has gone on long enough!"
Luckily, I'm not the only one who wants to crush those backstabbing Romulans. It seems a development team at MicroProse has been working on Star Trek: The Next Generation--Birth of the Federation, a new Trek-based empire builder built upon the foundation set by MicroProse's Civ II and Master of Orion II. This turn-based strategy game will allow players to build empires and eventually defeat neighboring races.
In BOF, players can choose to play one of five major powers: the Federation, Romulans, Klingons, Ferengi, or Cardassians. And you'll be able to take full advantage of each race's specific attributes as you build your empire. Build up a totalitarian Klingon empire devoid of any diplomacy, if you wish. Or establish a Ferengi trading coalition, with the hopes of one day buying off your enemies.
The possibilities are endless; you may even feel some strange desire to play as the Romulans, building a cowardly armada of cloaked starships. Who knows? In your hands, the Romulans might actually be trustworthy.
When five playable races doesn't seem vast enough, you'll discover the game's NPCs (non-player characters)--up to 30 of them! Better yet, each of these races interacts with the galaxy as the game progresses, resulting in both positive and (often) negative effects on play. You'll see NPCs like the Bynars, the Sheliak, and the Tamarians, to name a few. You'll find most of these minor cultures as you explore the galaxy, while others, like the Borg, will find you. Staying true to the series, the Borg will basically come in and really make life difficult for the players.
The game's interface has been spruced up a bit in comparison to Master of Orion II's; at first glance, you'll notice a strong Trek-ish look and feel to each button, menu, and panel. From the Federation's pastel rainbow-colored consoles to the Klingons' foreboding red controls, BOF really helps you feel at home with each of the major races.
The biggest addition to the interface is the floating control panel, a new feature that can be accessed anytime, anywhere by right-clicking your mouse. It quickly pops up and gives you access to crucial commands, then goes into hiding when you close it. And it's small enough to avoid obstructing your game screen. A marvelous feature indeed.
Yet, all the new features in the world won't save your Romulan ass when playing BOF multiplayer games via a LAN or the Internet. As multiplay goes, you'll be able to hook up with five other talking monkeys for some serious group empire-building. And as in MOO II, trading, diplomacy, and combat are always more exhilarating when it's real life opponents who are on the line.
So there you have it--no more silly adventure games. No more silly MOO II debates over what the best custom-built race is (well, I'm afraid we'll always have silly MOO II debates over races), and no more rumors of a Star Trek strategy game. Yes, it's been a long time coming, but Trekkers finally have a strategy game to call their own. Look for BOF to hit store shelves in June.
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