The Game: Starfleet’s long-range probes detect a massive Borg invasion fleet headed for Sector 001 – an incursion that couldn’t happen at a worse time, since Starfleet is still licking its wounds after the costly Dominion War. Worf, now Klingon Ambassador to the Federation, dons his Starfleet uniform once more to head up the training and deployment of the Academy’s ace Red Squad pilots in a new class of solo fighter vessel, the Valkyries. In the course of training, unwelcome surprises come from all corners – the Romulans, the last remnants of the Cardassian Empire, a Starfleet Captain who inexplicably goes renegade, and a new threat as well… (Activision, 2000)
Memories: This long-awaited Star Trek game for the Playstation demonstrates that Sony’s nearly-ubiquitous little grey console still has a few tricks up its sleeve before the PS2 grabs the spotlight.
How a game plays is the most important thing, of course, but it’s hard not to be stunned speechless by the graphics in Invasion. In the third mission, which is an upper-atmospheric combat flight (aaah, the atmosphere – aaah!), the scenery is enough to distract you to death the first time around. It’s very good stuff, marred only by the un-anti-aliased “polygon jump” that plagues many Playstation games with lots of 3-D objects to track and render. If this game is ported to the Dreamcast, look out – it’ll be just like a visit to the holodeck!
The controls are complex, but not un-learnable. If anything, this game demands a good, solid, Sidewinder-style analog joystick – something about the Playstation’s usual dual shock analog controllers just doesn’t seem…worthy, somehow. I’ve been able to pull some nosebleed evasive maneuvers, especially the first time I finally seized that damn Cardassian freighter at the wormhole, but I’d like to try this with a big, solid, flight-sim-friendly joystick.
The game advances relentlessly once you get going, and it’s hard to put the controller down and resist going for it one more time. The pace is aided tremendously by a minimum of cut scenes interrupting the action – and most of these can be aborted, though I recommend watching them at least once just for the pure spectacle of it. The voice work is well done, with Michael Dorn carrying the bulk of the load. There is no digitized video to take up huge gobs of the disc – Activision got it right. The game, not the bells and whistles, takes top priorty. And that’s why this one looks great and plays smoothly.
Of course, Trek fans everywhere will wonder: is it worthy of the Star Trek name? Sure it is. The plot of the game seems to have been well thought out, and great care was taken in placing the game within the continuity of the various series – plus there’s the added bonus in getting to see the Sovereign class starship, namely the Enterprise-E, in all of her sleek glory. And truth be told, it’d be cool to see some Valkyrie fighters in an upcoming movie – they’re kinda sexy little fighting machines. I know, because I’ve flown one a few times.
Voice Cast includes: Patrick Stewart (Captain Picard), Michael Dorn (Worf), Jeanette Goldstein (Typhon engineer), Joel Swetow (Cardassian Commander / Borg)