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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine The Fallen


Reviewer: Kemuel
Reviewed Date:
1/17/01


I always wanted a phaser.

 

Click for screen shot 1 of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine The Fallen
Click for screen shot 2 of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine The Fallen
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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine The Fallen

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Interactive
click here for complete game info page

GZ Review Ratings:
 Game Play 7
 Graphics 8
 Sound 10
 Difficulty 8
 Concept 7
 Installation Easy
 Overall 7.5

click here for Reviewer's Scoring Details

Not the flaccid

Not the flaccid, power plug-looking version of the newer series, nor even the sleek, needle-barreled weapons of the late-Shatner seasons. No, I wanted the original phaser that looked like an oversized nine-volt battery.

There was something decidedly cool about all that destructive power coming from a black box so small that you knew Kirk never bothered changing the power setting. He just left it on ‘kill’ permanently, and hoped that he didn’t leave it in his pants when he did the laundry. I had the opportunity to nearly satisfy my desire with the Trek game Elite Force. Unfortunately, that ended up not working out because I wasn’t fast enough in the pool here at GameZone to snag it. And, since I rarely leave my apartment for anything other than Digiorno pizzas (you see, it’s not delivery) and toothpaste, I didn’t pick it up at the store either. I experienced a brief, nearly religious, moment of hope when one of my friends, whose father works for NASA, informed me that a military-grade laser could be constructed in mere days, shopping only at Radio Shack. I still had half a tube of toothpaste left though, so I never tried it.

But now my chance has arrived. For not only does Star Trek Deep Space 9: The Fallen (DS9:TF) have phasers, they also let you use a tricorder! This has to be some sort of geek nirvana, as I’ve heard that some gamers have actually dropped dead from the excitement of controlling a bat’leth laden Worf and scanning for life-forms. I am told I qualify to judge the volume of ‘geekness’ due to my collection of Batman figures (or as my girlfriend calls them; boy-dolls) being still in their boxes. This is apparently some sort of loser litmus test I was previously unaware of.

While you try to estimate where you fall in this spectrum of children’s toys to muscle car ratios, I’ll give you a brief run-down of the game.

DS9:TF is a third-person action game in the vein of Tomb Raider. It appears to expand on storylines that had existed within the series, so those who followed the trials of the Deep Space Nine crew will be rewarded for their loyalty. I assume, anyway, because I rarely watched the show, so had no clue what in the world was going on for the first hour of play. Kind of like a Fellini film, but with transporters.

I’ll give you the basics. Some bad people want to get their hands on three incredibly powerful items so that they can make a super-weapon. You are a member of an eclectic group of scientists and warriors who discover their plans and attempt to obtain the items first. This would be a very captivating premise if it weren’t also a word-for-word description of the GI Joe series premiere. The guys at Collective Studios do add a few ‘adult’ themes like conflicting ideologies and political terrorists, all intertwined with talismans that are overflowing with both untapped physical power and religious significance, but it’s still a ‘stop these guys from making that weapon before this happens’ regurgitated sci-fi yarn. Typical Star Trek fare, but since they actually have enough time to develop the story, it ends up being a decent show, if sometimes a bit predictable.

Now, this is where I was going to begin my recount of the three-sided storytelling of DS9:TF due largely to my preference for diplomacy before I let loose the dogs of...well, chastisement. They’re not as tough as the dogs of war, but they have pretty good taste and are generally better company. Today though, I feel like getting some things off my chest.

I’ve had a problem recently with a lot of action oriented games on my PC. Specifically, how dark they are. I know all the cliché justifications for mood lighting, and I do realize that certain effects and emotions can’t be achieved with the sun at high blazing down to expose every last nook and cranny of a level. But should I have to play all my games after midnight, hunched under a comforter in the corner of a darkroom just so I can see what the hell is going on? That would be no. What makes me want to force-feed a few people copies of Stage Lighting: Step-by-Step is the fact that they go one step beyond encouraging you to play in the dark, but actively take steps to leave you no other choice. Maybe it’s just me, but I believe that the highest setting for brightness in a game should be... oh, I don’t know...bright, and the opposite end of this sliding scale something that isn’t. Not only is this not the case, but the brightest I could get DS9:TF still left much of it unplayable with anything more luminous than street lights gently illuminating drawn shades. Why does this distress me? Probably because of the fact that anyone with enough brain cells functioning to know that when they put their nametag on, they shouldn’t be able to read it, is aware that staring at a CRT in poor light conditions is a fast track to eyesight degradation. And many of these games actually tell you to play in complete darkness! Perhaps I’m not up to date on ocular medicine. Perhaps I’m not seeing the hidden genius within their art. Perhaps they’re all morons. Whatever the reason, the fact remains that brightly-lit games can still create mood, and not being able to play DS9:TF during the day definitely created my mood. They would probably call it ‘unbridled homicidal rage’ when describing it to the jury, but that’s for history to decide. Do you hear me Mr. Spector? I’m talking to you.

I’m not saying that I wasn’t able to appreciate the visual artistry. Not by a long shot. I found that the game was acceptably attractive, and many of the details, with the exception of the unrelenting light-sourcing, were very nice. Things like the glowing buttons on pressure suits and the static interference when zooming in with the phaser rifle were items of note. The fact that the character models reacted well to variations in surface height also gave me more enjoyment than is probably warranted. I spent fifteen minutes having Kira pose with one leg propped up on a fountain while holding a rifle until I realized there was no way to get a look at her from the front. Intentional attempt by the developer to draw the gamer almost, but not quite into a realistic world, or a strange inability on my part to keep my attention focused?

Who cares? It’s cool.

Another great bit is the fact that you can actually descend ladders. Pressing the crouch button while in the vicinity of the top of said ladders automatically places you on it. After unending struggles with the concept in first-person shooters over the years, this is a very warm fuzzy indeed. Yes, I know this isn’t a first-person shooter, so don’t bother scanning through the beginning of the review to fact check me. I’m just saying that I like not falling, regardless of the perspective used. Falling = bad, therefore, automatic ladder use = all kinds of not bad.

It appears that we have drifted into the land of ‘Nice Things to Say’ without any fun remarks to commemorate the transfer. I’m too tired for wit right now, so maybe I’ll come back later and insert something humorous about beating seals or something. In the meantime, I suppose I should finish the enjoyable aspects of DS9:TF. I would like to clarify before we take this plunge that, even though it sounds like the best things this game has to offer are still slightly less entertaining than clubbing seals, that is simply not the case. I just really like those kinds of jokes.

Sliding back on track, I was able to derive some pleasure from DS9:TF for a few reasons, especially the tricorder. I know this is a minor and admittedly lame item to place at the top of my list, but it’s the first thing that comes to mind when I think about this game. The tricorder performs a few rudimentary but vital functions for you, including:

·         Pinpointing the location of enemies, switches (whether hidden or in plain view), pick-up items, mines and various other significant nouns.

·         Displaying the frequency modulation of force fields, allowing you to fire through them by altering your phaser to match.

·         Displaying the direction and location of areas that allow for transporter use.

I really can’t tell you how nice it was not to have to search every last inch of a level for that single switch/lever/indestructible orb of death/keycard that opens the next area. Particularly since this game is obviously geared to be an action title. With the burden of solving uselessly complex hide-and-seek games for items whose only purpose is to keep you here and out of there, you are able to enjoy more of the scenery, and, in particular, making enemies a part of it.

The second place on my list holds the comm-badge. Allowing you to talk to various members of the crew at any time, and also receive vital information at key points in a manner more believable than reams of top secret documents laying around in the mess hall, there really isn’t much about this gadget that isn’t likable. I would have enjoyed some useless but friendly banter on occasion instead of the ‘Nothing to report.’ response I frequently received, but this omission is outweighed by the excellent ability to have items beamed to your location. It only happens in ‘designated areas’, but it’s an excellent use of a Star Trek staple.

Which brings me to another relentlessly high-performing aspect of this franchise; the music. As ever, the soundtrack is not only suited perfectly to the concept of science fiction adventuring, but this time it’s use as situational scoring is flawless. Even the incidental music often gave me chills. To be perfectly honest, I tried playing the game without sound and found my enjoyment was significantly decreased. I was quite amazed.

Of course, all of this visual and aural excellence is for naught if the game isn’t worth playing. I’m pretty sure I read that somewhere. Well, as long as you enjoy extra-long story arcs, limited brainwork and much shooting of weapons, it is. In fact, there is so much action going on that you will often wonder why they didn’t opt for a first-person view, since it would have made aiming at enemies far easier. Instead, they compensate by providing automatic targeting, which is quite useful, but between that and the tricorder there isn’t much left to the ‘gaming’ except timing a few jumps and pressing fire at the right time. Even the ‘hidden’ gravitic mines wind up being one more press of a button between you and that extra ammo clip when Sisko can lock onto them from sixty feet away while running sideways and dodging heavy fire.

But Sisko won’t be the only one performing these feats of incredible dexterity. You are presented with the opportunity to explore the quest for the Pah-Wraiths orbs from three different perspectives; Kira, Worf and Sisko. Unsurprisingly each one has an inherent difficulty (which isn’t stated, but likely goes, from easiest to hardest: Kira, Sisko, Worf) but they also experience the events differently. Though much of their individual mission content and objectives begin to overlap as the game progresses, it is a nice way to extend the life of the game. This becomes even more important since the game is for one player only, which is increasingly becoming the exception.

What we have, in the end, is an engaging Star Trek game that delivers more story and replay than Elite Force, but lacks the visceral intensity and multiplayer capability. Should it be added to your collection? If you’re a Trekkie, then without hesitation I tell you yes. If you lack that sci-fi bent, then I don’t know why you read this far, but I can say that Deep Space Nine: The Fallen is a very interesting show with some difficult and action-filled sequences, but you may want to look elsewhere if you’re searching for your next Half-Life or No One Lives Forever. 

Install: Easy
Not a single hiccup, and you can actually skip the opening sequences.

Gameplay: 7
It was very easy to control, but there was little skill required to accomplish most of the tasks. The enemies were little challenge, leaving their sheer numbers and the platform jumping as the main reason to save your game.

Graphics: 8 
It looks really good, if not the pinnacle of visual splendor. Smooth textures, good frame rate, superb details (feed the fish on the mezzanine) and excellent, if excessive, light-sourcing.

Sound: 10
As usual, the most immersive aspect of a Star Trek game. The score was perfect, and the ambient sounds always suited the situation.

Difficulty: 8
There were often far too many enemies and far too little ammo for the stronger weapons, leaving you in the unenviable position of trying to run and dodge incredibly accurate unfriendly fire. The reload/recharge rate was far too often the true enemy. Worf has to use a bat’leth... ‘nuff said.

Concept: 7 
The story was perhaps a touch contrived at times, and the idea of a using the Star Trek license far from new (sadly) but the story was often intriguing enough to drive you to play the next level. Though more scripted sequences and alternative consequences would have been nice. The separate storylines weren’t often separate enough.

Multiplayer: N/A

Overall: 7.5
Not a perfect game, but it has enough quality to keep Trek fans very happy. Non-fans wouldn’t need to return this if it were a gift, but would find their action needs satisfied better elsewhere.


Test System:
CPU - P-II 400MHz RAM - 128MB
Video - Voodoo 3 3000 CD - 56X
Hard Drive - 10GB OS - Win 98
Sound - SoundBlaster PCI 64D  




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