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Reviewed: Star Trek: Shattered Universe
Author: Michael Ahlf       Date: February 14th, 2004
Page: 2

Storyline-wise, the premise of Shattered Universe is great. Years after his last adventure with Kirk, Sulu (now captain of the Excelsior) and his crew follow Chekov's ship to an anomaly. In the anomaly, Sulu and his crew exchange mental (but not physical) places with the Mirror-Universe Sulu and Excelsior crew, and meet a much different Chekov who is trying to kill Sulu for treason. The goal from that point? Get back to their own galaxy. 

To aid them in their struggle, they find a number of fighter-craft (not shuttlecraft, fighters armed to the teeth) and proceed to kick butt. Well, that's the idea anyways.

Functionally, the game is one big track of missions. Each mission can be replayed at any time, with "bonus" requirements on each to unlock a specialty ship from that mission which can then be used in all others. Missions consist of: blast fightercraft, blast enemy capital ships, blast asteroids, keep from getting killed, and keep from getting the @#$@# Excelsior killed.

Yep, that's it. Those are all the objectives to be had.

Control-wise, the game's not THAT bad. There's the obvious lack of a strafe ability (despite Federation/Imperial vessels having had side-thruster capability since the NX-01 was introduced). There's the use of three buttons for weapons, one of which is only usable against capital ships, one of which hits right where you're pointing, and one of which has a less-than-useless forward targeting "prediction" reticle to try and follow. The right trigger moves forward, the left backward, and you're set to go. The controls are functional; the weapons aren't.

Graphically, the game's mediocre at best. Polygons and pixel-crawl abound, ignoring the capabilities of the Xbox even in 480P mode; the PS2 version looks pretty much identical to the Xbox version as well. Weapon effects when they hit, are decent, but they're ALWAYS the same effect, and shields being hit just don't quite look right; they look more like a home variety plasma lamp than the shield effects we've come to expect.

Level design, as mentioned above, sucks - mostly because the entire setup of every mission is "beat impossible odds. Again." In one particular mission I remember with pure hatred, the Excelsior is put upon by FOUR Constitution-class vessels, all of which make nice high-damaging explosions on defeat, and then by an Orion marauder. Given that the Constitution-class vessels like to get up close and personal with the Excelsior (wiping it out if you defeat them too close, but sitting around and leisurely picking her to pieces if you don't) the mission is a painful joke.

The real downfall of the game, however? A.I. Put simply, while the enemy AI is dumb as rocks, yours is somehow dumber. Enemy ships like to get on a straight line and fire; dodge briefly, and turn up again, and you can quickly put them down. Enemy capital ships, on the other hand, have the capacity to wipe your shields out in one blow and instantly target; while they all have a blind spot, FINDING it is a challenge and staying in it with fightercraft around is pointless. Meanwhile, none of your fellow Excelsior fighters, nor the Excelsior herself, could hit the broad side of a Red Giant-sized star. 

Bottom line: Good idea. Bad everything else.

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Added:  Saturday, February 14, 2004
Reviewer:  Michael Ahlf
Page: 2/3

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