Trek gaming fans can once again rejoice with the release of Activision’s
latest game, Star Trek: Armada II.
Following on the footsteps of the ground-breaking
2000 release of Star Trek :Armada, this sequel continues down
the glorious path of Trek based space strategy and combat. With three all new
single player campaigns for fans to dig into, several all new Star Trek
influenced ship classes, and the introduction of a new and powerful enemy race
to battle, Star
Trek: Armada II proves itself to be an entertaining and solid RTS title
that will impress fans of the sci-fi franchise.
As most fans of both computer
gaming and Star Trek know, titles based upon the famous sci-fi epic have tended
to fall into the gray area on more than one occasion. Whether it happens to be
poor writing, weak development, or just bad execution, most games based on Gene
Roddenberry’s vision of the future were just not able to live up to the
quality that the various TV series and films exuded.
After floundering for some time,
several game developers were finally able to overcome the inherent problems in
their Trek game offerings, within the various gaming sub-genres. For the RTS
games, the curse of bad Trek gaming was broken with the release of Starfleet Command, a title based upon
the popular board/RPG game of the same name.
Although a solid strategy game, several inconsistencies were noted in the
game that didn’t keep with the canon of the Star Trek universe (namely,
several of the races/empires found in the game).
The gaming Trek community fawned over the release regardless, turning Starfleet Command into one of the most popular Star Trek titles
and RTS releases of all time.
Noting how well the RTS genre faired in the Star Trek world, developers jumped on to the bandwagon, eager to recreate the magic that Starfleet Command successfully captured in its release. Activision was able to do just that, when the company released its highly anticipated own RTS Star Trek title in 2000, Star Trek: Armada. Most of those who had the chance to play this game were delighted with the overall quality of game, in both its presentation and gameplay. Star Trek: Armada not only captured the essence of Star Trek with its storyline writing and characterization (utilizing the voice talents of many TNG actors), it also was able to depict many of the unique combat scenarios and tactics that true fans of Trek could appreciate. From the Borg’s assimilation of ships and planets, the Romulan’s cloaked hit-and-run attacks, Captain Picards’ cool-handed bravery, to the Klingon’s battle rage: every Empire’s actions and tactics within Star Trek: Armada has a very authentic Trek-ian feel to it.
Almost a year and a half after
the initial release of Armada,
game publisher Activision and developer Mad Doc have expanded their Star
Trek RTS universe with an updated version of its popular game with the release
of Star Trek:
Armada II. Once again, fans
of Star Trek and the original Star Trek: Armada title will be mesmerized with the incredible
detail that the developers have gone to with both the storyline and graphics in
this latest title, keeping the quality and integrity of the Star Trek franchise
The storyline behind Star Trek: Armada II continues where the
original left off. With the Borg beaten back into the Delta quadrant, the
denizens of the Alpha are only beginning to rebuild after the war. However,
Starfleet still cannot rest: they must now find out how and where the Borg have
been entering Federation space and stop the menace from once again wreaking
havoc in their star systems. A new offensive from the Federation and its allies
is now underway, one that will confront the Borg right in their own space within
the Delta quadrant – and hopefully defeat the Borg once and for all.
Trek: Armada II is a
stand-alone game that does not require the original to play, containing both a
single player game as well as a multiplayer one. In the single player mode,
players will find three totally new campaigns available for three different
Empires: the Federation, the Klingons, and the Borg (the last two games cannot
be accessed until the initial Federation campaign is completed, however). The 30
new missions found within Star Trek: Armada II are divided between the Federation campaign
storyline, consisting of Starfleet and its allies attack of the Borg within the
Delta quadrant; the Borg campaign, which shows you the mirror viewpoint of
Starfleets’ attack through the eyes of the machine people; and the Klingon
campaign, which takes place in the Alpha quadrant, where the warrior people must
defend the allied empire’s territory from other unscrupulous Empire’s (as
well as a few other surprises).
Progressing through the game
entails completing various RTS missions, utilizing specific and derived
combat/economic tactics. Again, most players familiar with similar strategy
games shouldn’t have a problem with the overall concept surrounding Star
Trek: Armada II gameplay. In case one needs a refresher course, there is
an included tutorial accessible through the main menu of the game that provides
a nice walkthrough that allows players to get their hands dirty with the basics
of playing the game.
Though Star Trek: Armada II is not meant to be a
completely different game than its predecessor, it does contain a number of new
elements to it that do make it stand out. For starters, there are over 100 new
ship types and base objects available for both the single and multiplayer levels
(some with their own unique special abilities and combat traits).
With the new ships comes an enhanced 3-D combat schematic, allowing
players to position forces on different z-axis levels within the starfield. This
in turn allows fleets of ships to be controlled more effectively than in the
previous incarnation of the game, by allowing players utilize 3-D formation
configurations that can increase defensive and offensive capabilities, and even
increase scanning range and resolution.
Another interesting change to Star Trek: Armada II is the Tactical
View toggle, with allows players to rotate the view camera 360 degrees
and zoon into the action of a particular ship or point of reference on the map.
This allows for even more viewing detail while ships engage in furious combat at
any part of the battlefield. One last notable change for the game deals with
starship modeling damage: ships can now pinpoint and target specific areas of an
enemy ship for attack. This is a very useful when trying to capture enemy
vessels with minimal damage (ie, disabling engines or weapons).
For fans of multiplayer RTS
Trek: Armada II includes LAN and Internet gaming elements just as the
original game did. Eight players can compete simultaneously as the Federation,
Borg, Klingons, Cardassians, Romulans, or even as the mysteriously fluid space
residents known as Species 8472 (from ST:Voyager). Several new maps and
multiplayer games have been packaged with the title, including Teamplay,
alliance, Capture the Flag, Collect Latinum, Colonize Planets, Defend Planet,
and a full Assault mode. Anyone even remotely familiar with RTS multiplayer game
action should easily be able to jump into the Star Trek: Armada II fray.
All in all, Star Trek: Armada II is a quality RTS title.
Not only does it play well as an overall strategy title, its development and
execution stands true to the Star Trek franchise and philosophy.
Fans of the original Armada release will enjoy the new
material and features that this latest edition has to offer, while newcomers to
the game will no doubt be hooked on its intense ship based action and unique
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