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Reviewed: Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force
Author: Michael Ahlf       Date: November 23rd 2000
Page: 2

This is the first game to come from the Star Trek: Voyager franchise, and also the first FPS attempt of the Star Trek universe since the abortive Klingon Honor Guard. It's also Activision's chance for redemption, after a series of slightly to very disappointing titles like Armada and Hidden Evil. Thankfully, Raven Software are great at making FPS titles and have put their all into this, giving Voyager a great send-up.

The most important skill in Voyager: Elite Force turns out to be patience -- the ability of the player to go through the game, not like BJ Blackowicz or Duke Nukem, but rather as a trained Starfleet officer. Judicious use of the weapons and a high ability to make every shot count, as well as a willingness to forego high-powered blast weapons to instead do maximal damage for the weapon energy used, is the key to not being defenseless later in the game. In addition, a good part of the game revolves around stealth, and getting in the first shot in a lot of encounters (or sometimes, not even firing a shot).

Load Screens let you know what's coming.
Behold the Bridge.
The Etherian vessel looks almost alive.

The beginning of the game places Voyager on its way home, as always -- the crew answers a distress call, which turns out to be a trap by a race of beings called the Harvesters. Trapped in a dimensional pocket called the Forge, Voyager's crew quickly deploys their new security force -- Tuvok's "Hazard Team" -- to collect an element from other derelict ships in order to escape. Along the way, the Hazard Team make friends with a race known as the Etherians, sneak around a composite ship full of Klingons, Hirogen, and Mirror-Universe Humans left from the time of Kirk & Spock, and vaporize a lot of nasty aliens. After getting the element needed to restore Voyager's warp core to working order, the Hazard Team are deployed to destroy the ship generating the trapping force. All goes well until the very end: faced with the prospect of getting off the Forge ship right before Voyager blew it to atoms, or fighting the buglike entity in control of it, Ensign Munro decides to do something decidedly un-Starfleet and stays to fight. Perhaps Raven thought they needed an end boss, but this wasn't quite the way to go about it, as Munro breaks character pretty badly.

Delta Flyer Taxi Service, ready to launch.
Do NOT get these guys mad.
You know, the Imperials have really gotten lax recently.

Weaponry in the game operates on three fuel types: the standard issue phaser regenerates, some others use energy which can be replenished using terminals on various ships, and still others use Dilithium. Each weapon has two fire modes, for a total of 18 attack styles (some of which are a bit redundant). The phaser and phaser rifle have stun and kill modes, of course. Seven's I-Mod, the weapon the Borg can't adapt to, has two different attack strengths. Other weapons, such as the scavenger rifle, have diversified attacks, moving between small rapid energy bursts and a grenade in the rifle's case. Adding to the mix, Munro has access to a Maalon gun (pretty useful) as well as a welding torch which actually turns out to be very effective if you don't mind short-range attacks. Using the weapons, of course, is more than just sitting on the fire button -- maximum use of the attacks requires mixing up attack 1 and 2, to knock out multiple targets if possible. Also remember, if only one enemy's around, use the hand phaser on kill: it has the ultimate in counterattack repression, as well as regenerating itself so that no ammunition is wasted.

So much for the Hirogen Alpha.
Seven of Nine, curved surfaces and all.
How the heck do we fix THIS?

Level design in Elite Force is done without parallel: Voyager's hallways and Bridge look exactly right, the Klingon sections likewise, and the more exotic environments like a Borg cube and the Etherian vessel enhance the mood by drawing the player in. Raven software went all out, using the Quake 3 engine's curved surfaces to not only render Voyager's engineering and bridge sections picture-perfect, but to give the Etherian vessel a quality that makes it look almost alive. The enemies benefit as well: faces on the enemies are beautifully textured, their frames realistic looking and moving, and the Voyager crew looking good as well. Only one complaint needs voice here -- guys, more polygons to the faces, and less to Seven of Nine's, ah, "curved surfaces".

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Added:  Thursday, November 23, 2000
Reviewer:  Michael Ahlf
Page: 2/5

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