The franchise isn't as stellar as it used to be, but I still enjoy a good Star Trek story. I've been watching the shows ever since my mother introduced me to The Next Generation at the age of eleven, and it wasn't long after that when I became captivated by Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and even Enterprise. I've always wondered why it seemed as though nobody could create a Star Trek video game that carried the spirit of the better episodes. Not every game can be a "Best of Both Worlds", but I do expect some quality and understanding of the franchise.
The latest game to step up and give it the old Starfleet Academy try is Star Trek: Encounters from Bethesda Softworks for the Sony PlayStation 2. Oddly enough, there's been very little coverage of the game from the gaming media even though the game is out this week. The game is even budget priced. That usually means that the game in question is junk, but to borrow a quote from another favorite sci-fi series of mine, I want to believe. Star Trek Gamers has an interview with the game's director, Frank Arnot, who reveals more information about the game than I've been able to find anywhere else. Take special note of one of the game modes:
Episode Mode: offers 20 episodes, or missions, for the player to play, featuring all 5 eras of the Star Trek universe. Each episode borrows its theme from moments in the various movies or TV episodes and while shooting is the mainstay of the missions there are other things the player has to do, for example, tracking down enemy by following warp signatures, racing through warp conduits, using nebula to allow stealthy movement, etc.
Finally! Most Star Trek games typically send the crew of the Enterprise (or Voyager or whatever starship is the focus of the plot) off to battle a new villain never seen before or since. If developers are going to go through the trouble of playing in the Star Trek universe, then they should at least use the various aliens fans know from the television shows and movies. Adding one's own villainous species into the mix (as in the Voyager-based first person shooter Elite Force) isn't doing anyone any favors. If Star Trek fans are laying down money for a Trek game, then they expect Klingons, Romulans, Borg, Cardassians, Jem H'adar, and any of the other major groups from the Trek world. Save the newly invented aliens for another game that doesn't use the Star Trek license.