Star Trek: Legacy hands-on preview

Has a highly-successful Star Trek-based video game been released yet? If not, that record might finally be in danger. “Star Trek: Legacy” from Bethsda Softworks COULD break the mold, but since so little of it was playable at E3 2006, we might have to wait a bit longer for the hard proof.

The task of uniting every single Star Trek franchise, both on the big and small screens, is a courageous one. How great would it be to have the choice of controlling ANY captain from ANY era? I am, however, leery about how those transition would be made. After all, moving through that timeline could prove to be a bit tedious. When I was told the ultimate main villain in Legacy is The Borg, all was explained. Since The Borg care not about the constraints of time and space, uniting all eras of Star Trek could prove to be quite easy if done correctly. The segues will have to be clean, but since we witnessed only two small battles in two different eras, I have no proof that that would be the case. By the way, the two battle sequences were Enterprises’ final battle with the Reliant in “The Wrath of Khan” and the second was a fictional attack on Deep Space Nine by the Romulans.

“Star Trek: Legacy” is all about the spacecraft. There will be no interaction on a character level in this title, or any kind of ground battles. Every action will be performed on the level of the ship. The craft ARE the characters in Legacy. The player can control up to four different craft at any given time and easily switch (2-button combos) between them during a battle. Battle commands can be given to any of the craft not being directly controlled and the orders will be carried out via a fairly aggressive A.I. The developers of Legacy also emphasized the need to use realistic wartime tactics instead of balls-to-the-wall firepower. There WILL be times that retreat is the best and only possible option… if your spacecraft is to remain in one piece.

Since the spaceships are the main characters, players will be able to customize them throughout the timeline. If the want is there, keeping a spacecraft from the Enterprise era is a strong possibility. Of course, you would have to keep modifying it to stay with the times, but it can be done. Ships can be modded after each mission via a Command Point system. The developers mentioned a world of new weaponry as well, guns and such that have not been seen in the franchise before, but they will still stay within the context of Star Trek language.

The controls for Legacy seemed a bit much to grasp… for about half of a minute. After one quick rundown of the buttons, it was easy to get down. There are a few combos that will need to be memorized for quick navigation among tactical views, but again, they are easily grasped. The targeting mode was ultra-simple to master and I even wound up destroying the Reliant in my very first battle. The Enterprise wasn’t looking too strong when I was finished, but what the hell, I was victorious.

The graphics, in the small portion of the game we experienced, looked pretty good. To say that some of the ships looked better than they did in the actual television show would not be a stretch at all. The battle scenes looked large and expansive and the overall vistas were quite impressive. Camera angles are the most important visual aspect of the game, and there appeared to be plenty to choose from. In a game of this nature, I’m of the opinion that substance is of greater value than eye candy. So far, it looks like we’ll have both in Legacy.

Some big guns are rumored to already be involved in or in negotiations to be involved with “Star Trek: Legacy”. Nothing could be confirmed, but the developers’ excitement about getting voice acting performances from every captain in the franchise could not be masked. References to a veteran Star Trek writer kept finding their way into the demo, and finally, when referring to said writer, the developer let the word she slip. You can draw your own conclusion there, I’m certainly not putting it in print.

Finally, the developers raved about a fantastic online multiplayer system that they were still working on. The word is, star craft can be upgraded within a multiplayer session and players can choose any spaceship from any other race in the world of Star Trek. There is also a co-op multiplayer campaign in which any race can be selected and controlled, with the exception of the Borg.

I didn’t hear many negative opinions at E3 about “Star Trek: Legacy,” but the truth is, I don’t think anyone has seen enough of it to know whether or not it will be a good game yet. The graphics, controls and multiplayer aspects looked and sounded great, but if the missions stink, Legacy won’t be worth much to anyone. Based on what I experienced, I think it will become a very successful title.

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