“Captain, she’s coming around for another pass! Their
plasma torpedoes are armed and ready! Our shields can’t
take another blow like that…” The cry of alarm, echoing
around the bridge, caused the entire crew to glance
at their captain. He was characteristically unfazed.
“Guns, overload our photon torpedoes.”
P3-500 (w/o 3D)
64 MB RAM
950 MB HD
The crew stared at him in horror. “We won’t get a chance
to fire! We can’t survive another volley!” The captain
smiled grimly. “She’ll hold.” The ISC cruiser circled
around on the screen, plasma torpedoes armed and ready,
squawking out demands of surrender. Ignoring the demands,
the USS Acropolis continued to turn to keep the enemy
cruiser in the main weapons arc. With a flash, two plasma
torpedoes burst from the enemy ship, speeding toward
the Acropolis. The captain instantly barked orders:
“Helm! High energy turn, hard a-starboard! Guns, hold
The Acropolis spun hard to starboard, spinning to plant
the strongest shield between them and the deadly plasma
torpedoes. Even their strongest shield couldn’t hold,
and crackling bursts of energy ravaged the Federation
light cruiser. Damage reports droned in, and over the
noise, reports of boarding parties came in. “Guns! Fire
all phasers now!” Lances of phased energy streaked across
space into the momentarily unprotected ISC cruiser,
tearing into the hull and disrupting systems.
“Helmsman, get us on their tail. Guns,” the captain
paused for dramatic effect. “Fire at will.” Their forward
phasers flared out and the ISC cruiser’s aft shields
collapsed. With a peculiar electronic bark, two overloaded
and deadly photon torpedoes streaked out from the pylon
above the saucer of the Acropolis. The first torpedo
struck amidships on the enemy, and the second burst
in a fiery detonation against the engine section. With
a flash, the ISC cruiser shattered into fragments of
metal. Cheers echoed through the Acropolis.
“A job well done. Comm, send word to Starfleet Command,
inform them that we have intercepted and destroyed an
Interstellar Concordium vessel in sector gamma nine…”
Star Trek games have had a bad reputation for many years.
Horrible games have come from the franchise many times,
but recently the franchise has been on a roll. Games
such as the original Starfleet Command, Klingon
Academy, and the superb Star Trek Voyager: Elite
Force have done a great deal to pull the name of
Star Trek out of the mud.
Now, a few months after the successful debut of Elite
Force, comes the sequel to Starfleet Command
(SFC). The original SFC was a richly complex starship
combat simulation, dragged down only by a repetitive
and sometimes overly difficult campaign. Now Starfleet
Command Volume II: Empires At War (SFC2) has been
released - and wow, is it ever an improvement.
SFC and SFC2 are both based off the old tabletop board
game, Starfleet Battles. With the detailed and lengthy
history behind the game, it was bound to be brought
to the computer in time. Many veterans of the board
game considered SFC to be quite a good representation
of the game. SFC2 doesn’t add a lot of new things to
the first game, but the improvements are more than welcome.
What improvements are those, you ask? (what a segue!)
The first improvements to be noted are always the most
visible - generally graphics. SFC2 is no exception to
this rule. The graphics aren’t a quantum leap over the
original, but they are significantly better. Details
are finer, damage skins are better, weapons effects
are bright and shiny, and the backgrounds are quite
nice. Every general class of ship is recognizable -
it’s too bad there aren’t unique models for every class
of ship, but that would be just a little too much to
ask - with 8 races (up from the original game’s 6) and
over 60 ships per race, that would be roughly Way Too
The two new races are the Mirak and the Interstellar
Concordium (ISC). The Mirak are better known to Starfleet
Battles players as the Kzinti, but due to legal issues
surrounding the name, they were re-named for SFC2. The
Mirak are very fond of missiles and generally carry
a lot of them around, sometimes with disruptors to back
them up. The ISC is generally found with plasma torpedoes
and their own special weapon, the Plasmatic Pulsar Device.
This weapon is highly effective at medium and long ranges,
but ineffective at close range. The best improvement
in this reviewer’s opinion is the new campaign system.
Called Dynaverse II, the system is completely revamped
from the original game. The map is now hex-based and
has planets and starbases shown in hexes. Completing
missions in hexes turns the power to your race or faction,
so it is possible to conquer enemy empires. The best
part about the campaign is that it doesn’t force incredibly
difficult missions on you like the original game did.
I recall some missions in the original which would face
you against a dreadnought, a heavy cruiser, a light
cruiser, and two frigates - no matter what ship you
were in. Needless to say, even though they were all
shut down at the beginning, I couldn’t do much with
my single light cruiser. In SFC2, the missions are all
scaled to your current ship - if the computer sends
too much force at you, you’ll have reinforcements to
even the odds out a bit. This doesn’t mean that the
missions will be easy - it just means that things won’t
be completely unbalanced.
There are many campaigns in SFC2, most of them revolving
around the ISC emergence into the galaxy and the war
against them. There are some other campaigns, such as
the Mirak and Lyran war, and the Hydran campaign against
the Lyrans and Klingons. Each campaign has a string
of “key” missions which the player is required to play.
Between those key missions, there are many generic missions
available, such as patrols, convoy escorts or raids,
shipyard defenses, or starbase assaults, among others.
Winning missions awards the player with prestige, which
can be used to repair and refit your ship(s), or purchase
newer ones. Getting a large ship is almost essential,
as there’s only so much a frigate or destroyer can do.
The audio for SFC2 is good, if a little overdone at
times. Music is often playing during a mission, and
seems to triggered by game events - such as severely
damaging an enemy ship. The crew voices (which I believe
come with the bonus CD) are amusing, if a trifle over-emphasized.
All the weapons have corresponding sound effects, so
you can definitely hear the damage you’re dealing or
taking. The tutorials include the voice of George Takei
(aka Captain Sulu), which is a definite nice touch.
Playing the game on both my laptop and my desktop computer,
I encountered very smooth play. The major difference
with my laptop was that due to the lower quality video
card, damage skins would not display properly. Otherwise,
the only other technical problem I encountered was a
crash to Windows upon accepting some key missions. Thankfully,
SFC2 auto-saves your campaign regularly, and no progress
was lost. These crashes were uncommon, and were not
repeated - after loading the game again, the mission
would play normally.
The largest complaint I have about the single player
game is the skirmish mode. It’s customizable, but not
enough. I want to see the ability to hand-pick ships
for each computer opponent - but the game does not allow
it, merely allowing the player to force the computer
to select a size within certain limitations (between
a Light Cruiser and Dreadnought, for example). The only
other customization possible is changing the battle
point value allocated to the computer to select vessels,
which seems to be oddly handled. Otherwise, the skirmish
mode is fun, if you want to pit yourself against things
that would never happen in the campaign.
One of the most vaunted parts of SFC2 is the multiplayer
Dynaverse II mode - the campaign mode from single player,
but in a multiplayer context. Unfortunately, the online
Dynaverse was subjected to some problems shortly before
release, and is only available in a beta fashion. As
this facet of the game is so unique, I felt it best
to allow the Dynaverse to become more stable before
rendering a verdict on it. An article detailing the
online Dynaverse will be available in a couple of weeks,
after my much-needed vacation, during which the Dynaverse
will hopefully become more stable and refined.
Should you get SFC2? If you enjoyed the first one, you’ll
definitely enjoy the second. It enhances everything
that made the original SFC enjoyable. If you’re not
a Star Trek fan, or don’t like terribly complex games,
SFC2 may not be for you. Be prepared for a rich, complex,
and very rewarding game if you get it.
It’s a sequel to an excellent game with an excellent
Very similar to the original, but the campaign
system is much better.
Nice details, excellent weapon effects, good
All the sounds are good, the voiceovers are
a little funny though.
Occasional crashes to Windows when starting
a key mission - thank you for auto-saving.
A sequel that every fan of the original should