Star Trek Legacy Xbox 360 Review
There have been plenty of Star Trek games over the years in many different genres, but up until now they’ve all had themselves firmly based in particular era. Now comes a game that takes you from the Star Fleet’s inception through the timelines of all shows and movies and beyond. You’ll play as all the major captains of the Enterprise in chronological order: Archer, Kirk and finally Picard – you’ll even get cameos by Sisko and Janeway along the way. And with a line up of ships covering all the eras and several species there’s never been a Star Trek game this comprehensive before.
Everything from the Star Trek universe and timeline has been brought to us totally authentically, not only in reference but appearance. Graphically everything is of a very high standard: ships, space stations, weapons fire, spatial anomalies, and all the rest look almost as good as they do in the shows. The 360 isn’t capable of the details of the super computers they use for the effects in the more recent shows, but it does manage to produce effects equal to the earlier episodes of the next generation. It really adds to the immersion of the game when everything looks as close as this to its source material. But, although things are near perfect for the most part, there are some problems with the graphics. Damage effects are extremely inconsistent for starters. Ships can take minor damage but be left with gaping, flaming holes in their hulls; conversely a ship can be near collapse, but just have some minor blackening. When your repair crews set to work too it may replenish your system’s status bar, but it’s not outwardly reflected. And when a ship is destroyed you don’t get a big explosion with debris going everywhere, it just fractures into pieces that spiral off before just disappearing. It’s a shame that when so much work has been put into all the models that these kind of effects aren’t up to the same standards, but it doesn’t detract too much.
It’s not just the game’s visuals that are of a high standard though, presentation is excellent all round. The audio side things are even better than the visuals, not only are all the game’s sound effects lifted from the shows perfectly, but you get all the captains from the shows voiced by the original actors. Some of the voice work does seem a little half hearted, with Archer and Sisko sounding like they’re reading an autocue, but Kirk, Picard and Janeway’s parts have more life to them. Top that all off with some nice orchestral pieces used in the shows and movies plus some original arrangements and you’ve got a near perfect audio accompaniment to the game. The only real thing that’s lacking for a truly authentic experience would be at least one of the shows original theme tunes. You’d think with this much attention to detail on the franchise they’d at least have thrown in the original series theme tune to cover the game’s opening menu.
But, all the production values in the world don’t help if it hasn’t got the gameplay to back it up. This is where things falter, as a strategy game it’s very action-orientated and won’t provide the depth that hardcore strategy gamers have come to expect. It is possible to play through at least the first era of the game’s campaign as if it were a purely action game. You control a fleet of up to four ships, this can either be done individually, or as a fleet with all your ships just following your lead, this is handy when in combat as it keeps your fleet together and focused. But as the game progresses missions move away from being mainly combat and you will need to spread your fleet out as multi tasking becomes a necessity. When in fleet command, most your orders are relayed to the rest of the fleet, and the game’s AI does a good job of controlling your support ships to carry out these orders. Unfortunately though, repair commands are the only ones that aren’t relayed and the game’s AI just doesn’t care if their ships are falling apart. It’s a bit of a pain having to switch control of ships to assign repair crews, especially when you’re at key points in missions, but you soon get the hang of it.
Controls in general are good, with your analogue sticks controlling ship movement and camera, the D-pad to switch control of ships, and your triggers firing weapons. Your ‘A’ button will allow you to target objectives, just pressing it will set a heading, but holding it down and a direction gives you access to all sorts of actions, tractor beams, transporters, scanners and communications are all at your disposal. Your ‘B’ button controls impulse engines and ‘Y’ gives you warp on request with your ‘X’ button controlling energy allocation between engines, shields, and weapons. The left bumper button brings up your systems menu allowing you to allocate repair crews and also initiate either long range scans or a ships self destruct sequence. Finally your back button brings up a tactical map; this shows you what’s going on in the sector and allows you to quickly assign orders when your target isn’t in the immediate vicinity.
The game’s single player is of reasonable length, with each era having around half a dozen missions of progressing difficulty. Missions can get quite lengthy with some lasting up to forty minutes and a mid level save or checkpoint would have been nice as it can get frustrating playing for half an hour and then unexpectedly dying. On top of that you also get skirmish and online multiplayer modes. Skirmish mode is offline only and supports up to two players, but the online is where it’s really at for multiplayer. Here you get the chance to command some non Star Fleet ships, with Klingon, Romulan and Borg ships at your disposal and it is ideal for re enacting some famous Star Trek battles. But, unless you’re a Star Trek fan you’ll probably find yourself finished with the game in a few days.
At the end of the day you get a game that is neither one thing as the other, it markets itself as a strategy game, but is pretty shallow compared to others, and as an action game it may be too tactical for some. For Star Trek fans though it really does deliver an authentic experience even if the gameplay is decidedly average. It’s just a shame more wasn’t done with the license.
Not for everybody, but Star Trek fans should give it a go, even if they’re not a fan of RTS games.