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Star Trek: Armada
PUBLISHER: Activision

SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS: PII 266, 32MB RAM, 3D Accel. Rec.
REVIEWER'S MACHINE: PIII 667, 256MB RAM, Xentor 32 Ultra, Win98
SIMILAR TO: Starcraft
CATEGORY: Real-time Strategy
ESRB: Everyone

Review by: Alan Tang
Published: August 26, 2000

Regardless of playing style, genre preference or devoted fandom, most people are willing to agree on one thing: video games based on popular television shows or movies tend to be, on the whole, rather awful. Although some fortunate franchises such as Star Wars have managed to escape this particular fate, the bulk have known a long, lonely and rather sordid history. This list has included such flawed excursions as Waterworld, The Arrival, and most notably, the beloved Star Trek universe. Whether they've been too muddled and confused, as was Star Trek: Hidden Evil, or simply forgettable, like Star Trek: Borg, most titles based on the dramatic nuances of the popular series have simply failed to capture its true essence. With phasers armed and shields up, Star Trek: Armada arrives on the scene as Activision's latest attempt to break the dreaded curse.

Most Star Trek fans generally recognize that the Borg storylines have been some of the best in the franchise's history. Activision seems to have picked up on this, bringing the biomechanical menace to the forefront once again, with Locutus in tow. This time, however, events are occurring shortly after the end of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, with the end of the Dominion War fresh on everyone's mind. The Federation has sent Captain Jean-Luc Picard and his crew to aid the outlying outposts in re-establishing themselves, while Worf has been sent to the Klingon homeworld to aid the presiding ruler, Chancellor Martok, in peacefully rebuilding the Empire.

One day, when on a routine mission, the Enterprise becomes witness to a temporal rift, from which emerges a futuristic Federation starship and two Borg spheres. After doing away with the ominous pursuers, the starship reveals itself to be from the future, and that it has come to warn of an impending Borg invasion which, if unchecked, will spell the eventual end of the Federation. The Enterprise and others are quickly mobilized to deal with the threat, and Worf is asked to cull the Klingons' aid. Before he is able to obtain reinforcements, Worf encounters an old enemy, Toral, who then sets about stirring up civil war amongst his people in an attempt to wrest control of the Empire from the rightful rulers. When the Romulans' infamous Admiral Sela enters the picture, matters begin to look rather grim for the Klingons, and it appears as though they must decline the Federation's request. It is this scenario that you are faced with, a situation so grim that you must step into the shoes of the Federation, the Klingons, the Romulans, and yes, even the Borg, in order to see it through to completion, in full RTS fashion.

As you take command of the various races, you'll notice individual peculiarities about each, as well as the advantages and disadvantages that they carry. The Klingons, for instance, possess the highest level of brute force of the four. Their dedication to battle has toughened them and has focused their technology towards that of weaponry and destruction, though not so much that they can't make good use of the invisibility that their cloaking devices provide. This has led to the use of warships great and small, all of whom are fiercely dominant in toe-to-toe combat, but which generally are much more vulnerable at longer ranges. Conversely, the Romulans are better versed in matters of subterfuge and surveillance, which in turn weakens their offensive capabilities. The Federation are the most balanced of the bunch, equally skilled in defense and offense, though they are less destructive than the Klingons and less protected than the Romulans. The Borg, as you would expect, are a special case. Their capital ships have great destructive power, but their lesser vessels are not quite as well armed as the Klingons'. Their true intimidation factor arises from their obvious ability to assimilate. Just as you've seen them take people and starships into their technological fold, it is possible here. As a result, an unwitting Federation captain may see his forces slowly converted, one by one, into Borg drones. Basically, the various races hold fairly true to their television counterparts, and as such will seem familiar to most any fan.