Space the final frontier. There’s been attempts before at bringing the magic of the hit TV series to the computer screen. The best known version being the 1960’s main frame offering that has seen a thousand and one home micro ports thanks to David Ahl’s seminal BASIC listings collections. Typically you play a more strategic chess-like game with a grid overview of the galaxy allowing you to warp between sectors and defend star bases from Romulan attack.
Top German PD demo coder Tobias Riker has gone for a more Elite like setup that puts you firmly in the Captain’s chair and does a very credible job of giving the player a proper insight into what it must feel like to command a Federation Starship.
You’re given a view of the bridge from the big command chair and through a very well designed button interface can issue orders to all the main familiar departments. New missions will come in via the Communications station and you need direct your Navigator to the appropriate star system setting course and warp speed.
On the way you may encounter fellow Starships and the odd enemy fleet. Most game play is very Elite like with you warping between star systems and transporting goods and personnel. Things mix up a little when you encounter the Romulans. I did find the method of setting and firing Phasers and Torpidos particularly cumberson. One fiddly battle leading to a ships mutiny as I was escorted off the centre seat.
The real treat though is in encountering other Starships which gives Riker the chance to show off his famous animation skills as a watch various different, and highly detailed, federation ship designs glide past the viewer. The USS Excelsior being a particular favourite.
This is a great game for Star Trek fans and Space exploration freaks alike. For a free game it put’s a lot of high priced commercial offerings firmly in their place.