Per aspera ad astra!
Long time ago in some far-far Galaxy... Oops... Sorry, wrong beginning.
No, we are talking not quite about Star Wars - let us discuss another popular star opera, Star Trek. The series exist for many years serving as background for tons of books and, of course, computer games. But for most people the name Star Trek is by unknown reasons associated with deep space flights on huge starliners only. As if this universe has nothing but starships and strange extraterrestrials. In actual fact, Star Trek is a phenomenon in cinema history. It has grown from big soap opera into self-dependent world, almost cult movement. But let's stop talking about long movies and turn our faces to more common things. To computer games; or rather just one game, Star Trek: Away Team.
The plot of original series was interpreted in all possible ways except one - special operation simulators. This lacuna is now filled by Reflexive company team, and the publisher is good old Activision.
This world allows to place the game events on Federation planets, in Klingon Empire and Romulan colonies. The Galaxy in Star Trek is splinted into conventional quadrants (1/4 of round), two of them (Alpha and Beta) are the stage for eighteen game missions. The player has a chance to head a special military unit of Federation space fleet. You are in the charge of elite fleet officers who survived fiery hell of Mercury, swamp waters of far worlds, and copper pipes of military bases.
After well-known Dominion Wars, the Federation has created Covert Actions unit able to act in any conceivable Universe area. This unit has own specially created ghost ship, USS Incursion, project NX-74808 (sorry for too much technical details :). The unit objectives are far reconnaissance and special intelligence/sabotage missions. Federation government uses our cutthroats in cases when the diplomats are losing their hearts and should give place to grenades and laser shotguns.
Three fourth view is the standard for such kind of games. Drawn graphics are neatly emulating three-dimensional space. According to screenshots, Away Team is rich in Hollywood-standard fantastic effects. Laser gun shots, force fields, other attributes of Big Badaboom (© Fifth Element) are shining like X-Mas tree. Away Team has both unique game universe and unique gameplay. The combination of Syndicate real-time system and Commandos character originality make the game a solid cocktail with significant arcade component.
We cannot estimate AI and game play yet, but the game itself looks attractive. The promise to release the wide use demo as early as this March seems especially intriguing.
The game created in legendary series motive cannot be full-fledged Star Trek creation without well-known characters. So, in training missions of Away Team, we'll hear Commander Data, and later will meet Ambassador Worf on far Klingon planet. The plot unfolds in most unusual universe areas, like abandoned Federation ship, far Romulan colonies, Starfleet Academy on Terra, Klingon Homeworld, or legendary Borg Cube.
We can select from three to six officers to perform each mission, each of them is pro in his area and nobody can fulfill his task better. Game control panel allows to set the action sequence for characters. The environment is interactive. You can examine each item and get the complete information about it, and the search for this additional info will determine your further steps towards the mission completion. The developers promise all missions to have alternative ways to complete them, whether gaining the maximum details available or doing only the mandatory actions. All this should help player to feel himself a real explorer of alien planets, extraterrestrial artifacts... well, almost the Galaxy Colombo.
As every strategy game, Away Team has own resource management system. Of course, on tactical level you have a single resource, live cannon fodder. But you have to provide clothes and footwear for them, equip them, and give them your orders deciding where and why they should give up their digital lives. You can take care of your soldiers only aboard the ship. This mode is available only during a breathing time between missions. Here you'll get new orders from command and decide who is to be sent to next adventure, and how should them be equipped.
Of course, such game is inconceivable without large arsenal of lethal devices (or weapons). AT will have both standard phaser weapons of all kinds, and brand new infernal machines... However you already can check the game arsenal at official Away Team site.
The multiplayer worth few separate words too. Away Team offers cooperative mode of campaign playing. Each player will control one or few units. AT is the first tactical game offering such kind of campaign multiplayer. However, as far as I can remember, we were able to play this way in X-Com: Enemy Unknown. Well, it was so long ago so I can hardly believe in it :)
The game release is planned for April 1, 2001. Don't laugh, not all countries acknowledge April 1 as Fools Day! No, this is not joke - the game is to be released very soon, and prior to this event we'll have a chance to play demo consisting of two missions.
- Yuri Bushin (aga Yurg)