With theaters across the country delivering a brand new Star Trek experience to fans tonight, we take a look at some of the best and worst in Star Trek video games.
Just as J.J. Abrams' new film seeks to refresh the aging franchise with a fresh look at an older story, Star Trek video game developers over the years have tried again and again to deliver a new experience to fans, expanding the universe beyond the television series and movies. Some stayed true to the source material and succeeded heartily, while others took risks with varied results.
Let's bodly go and explore best and worst in Star Trek video games, starting with the very first.
Star Trek Text Game (1971)
Star Trek has long been a staple of geek culture, so it makes perfect sense that one of the earliest television tie-in games be based on the classic science fiction series. Believed to have been created by Mike Mayfield in 1971 on a SDS Sigma 7, the simple, unlicensed text-based strategic combat simulator saw players entering text commands in order to navigate the USS Enterprise around a grid-based map, ridding the galaxy of the Klingon menace.
What determines a good Star Trek game? Is it space combat? Character interaction? Story? A combination of all three? Over the years there have been plenty of adequate Star Trek games, but three shine particularly brightly.
Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force (2000 - Raven Software)
From what is generally considered one of the two worst Star Trek television series comes one of the best video games in the franchise's history, in the unlikely form of a first-person shooter. The game managed to strike a delicate balance between character interaction and intense shooter gameplay, with beautiful visuals (for the time) courtesy of the id Tech 3 engine. Elite Force used the first-person perspective to immerse players in the Trek universe, while multiplayer that rivaled that of Quake III kept the more competitive players contentedly killing each other in the background.
Star Trek: 25th Anniversary (1992 - Interplay)
Star Trek PC games were generally ho-hum affairs until Interplay dished up this DOS classic in 1992. At its most basic, Star Trek is about space battles and character-driven adventure, so Interplay married the two in Star Trek: 25th Anniversary with amazing results. Like the show, the game was split up into several episodes, with flight sim-like ship combat woven together with adventure game segments to deliver what many fans consider to be the most authentic Star Trek game experience ever created. Even better, the CD version of the game featured the voices of the majority of the original show cast, making an excellent title even better.
Interplay followed up the 25th Anniversary game with Star Trek: Judgment Rites, continuing the story and making the ship combat sections options for those who preferred the adventure segments. Both games are still quite enjoyable today.
Star Trek: Bridge Commander (2002 - Totally Games0
Star Trek: Bridge Commander was a delightfully new take on the standard Star Trek space combat simulator. Rather than simply having players direct a ship's actions, Bridge Commander has players step into the shoes of a new starship captain, delivering orders to the various Bridge officers as a "real" starship captain would. While the option to switch to an external view of the ship and handle things yourself was present, the game truly shined on the bridge, transforming countless swiveling computer chairs into luxurious captain's seats in the minds of fans across North America and Europe.
Star Trek: Shattered Universe (2004 - Starsphere Interactive)
There have been plenty of Star Trek titles one could consider bad, but there is one in particular that raises sucking to an entirely new level. Star Trek: Shattered Universe took one of the most intriguing themes running throughout the length of Star Trek history and pretty much crapped all over it. Ever since the Mirror, Mirror episode of the original series, fans have longed for a chance to explore the dark side of Trek to a fuller extent. Instead of giving them that chance, developer Starsphere Interactive delivered a crappy shooter with Star Trek trappings slapped on that even Sulu-fueled cut scenes couldn't save. One of the biggest disappointments in the series since the opening theme to Star Trek: Enterprise.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Dominion Wars (2001 - Gizmo Games)
An intriguing mix of real-time strategy and space combat that followed the war between the United Federation of Planets and the invading Dominion Alliance in the last three seasons of Deep Space Nine, this PC release fell flat. Even once the numerous bugs caused by a rushed release were cleared up, regular crashing and just plain boring execution made Dominion Wars a Star Trek title that fans loved to hate.
So where does the new J.J. Abrams movie rank, when compared to the more interactive Star Trek experience that game developers have delivered to us over the years? Fans all over the world are finding out as we speak. Feel free to give us your thoughts on the new movie and the old games in our comment section below.