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Bethesda  
Star Trek Legacy
From: Bethesda
For: Windows PC
Genre: Combat, Space, Strategy
ESRB Rating: Everyone (10+)
Star Trek Legacy
Star Trek Legacy is the highest-profile venture into Trek space in recent memory and tracking the mortal accumulation of its problems is like watching the hospital relief ship you've been waiting for suddenly change course and unceremoniously plow into a nearby planet; it's worse, for all the hope you've been holding.
Posted December 14, 2006
By CHRIS HUDAK, EVERGEEK MEDIA
 
The real, hard-core members of Star Trek fandom truly believe in the ultimately optimistic nature of the franchise's promises, and they've been conditioned over the years (or decades) to put up with a lot of cosmic curve-balls in the course of their devotion: A substellar good-movie-to-ghastly-movie ratio for starters, not to mention a beloved series creator and principal actor gone too soon…and most recently, a veritable space convoy of spotty games.

Star Trek Legacy is the highest-profile venture into Trek space in recent memory and tracking the mortal accumulation of its problems is like watching the hospital relief ship you've been waiting for suddenly change course and unceremoniously plow into a nearby planet; it's worse, for all the hope you've been holding.

Legacy's ambitious goal is nothing less than to tie the temporally-flung variations on the Trek theme into a single game, starting with the revisionist era depicted in the show Enterprise, marching onward through the original series (AKA "Classic Trek," in the respectful vein of "Coke Classic") and then launching into the Next Generation and points beyond. It works rather well on that score, thanks in part to the authentic voice-acting cred of captains Archer, Kirk, Picard, Sisco and Janeway (Scott Bakula, William Shatner, Patrick Stewart, Avery Brooks and Kate Mulgrew). Even when the dialogue is hokey, or the actors-in-question clearly unsure of their approach, the overall score in the audio department is high.

Despite the touchy-feely, can't-we-all-just-get-along intention of the Trek mindset, Legacy does the sensible thing and focuses largely on capital starships blasting the bejeezus out of each other -- with genuine weightiness, too; nothing could irritate a true Trekker quite like a game that would portray capital starships as zippity-swift little T.I.E. fighters, and Legacy gets the sense of size and lumbering mass down. Even more importantly, all the beloved iconic ships are here from the various TV and film eras of Star Trek, and they're presented beautifully, with phaser-flare and star-shadow caressing their exotic lines (once you crank down the game's wildly off-kilter, default brightness). Visually, Legacy more than makes up for the dissing that the original series/"film-era" Enterprise has taken over the course of most Star Trek games.

Mechanically, it's a different -- and sadder -- story: Too soon after being chucked into combat without adequate orientation, you'll find yourself confronting a queasy compromise between 2D and 3D combat: In effect, you're locked into a flat plane, where there is some X-Y-Z targeting, but not actual multi-axis fighting in the strictest sense. It's easy to lose your tracking on a ship passing below or above you. Worse, some of the game's controls are imperfectly -- or utterly inaccurately -- documented, perhaps because of an obvious developmental deference to the game's looming Xbox 360 release.

While you can have a small fleet of ships at your disposal, there isn't what you'd call "regular" fleet control -- control on the zoomed-out tactical screen is so sketchy that you're better off sending your ships to the ball-park area where you intend an engagement, and then Pavlov-tuning them from there. Forget giving the ships in your fleet true 3-space orders, forget aggression levels or waypoints, forget giving "global" commands to your entire fleet at once.

Perhaps the biggest insult -- directed in a queerly personal way -- is the essential inability for your ships to effectively hit anything, be it another ship, a starbase, or even a planet. After movies and references full of romantically-misleading, naval notions of "ramming," players who actively or passively run into another object are effortlessly repulsed like a fan-boy at the newest hip nightclub, their ships somehow simply sent in another direction. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

It gets worse. There's a complete inability to save mid-mission, during some of these half-hour-long-plus engagements, where a single misstep at the bottom of the ninth can force you to retry the whole mission. It's enough to make 30-something Trekkers lose their hair. Yeah, that's right, the game made it fall out.

Finally, Legacy's multiplayer and ship-date bug issues are what modern sociopolitical whiners like to call a "quagmire." Issuing a "patch" immediately after release is never what you'd call a Good Sign, and as of the time of this writing, actually finding (or successfully joining) an online game is a futility in the best Borg sense. When you can manage it, deathmatch games (or the admittedly-cool, stand-as-long-as-you-can-against-the-enemy cooperative games) give Legacy some space legs -- but the 'legacy' of Star Trek is still eyeing its ideal game incarnation, like a strange new world on the final frontier. The game just plays like a no-win simulation of what a great game might be.
 
 
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Bang for your buck:
Poor New Purchase 
Ok Pre-played 
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Score:  1.75  (out of 5)