Sunday, January 06, 2008

Star Trek 25th Anniversary

Star Trek 25th Anniversary: A Review
(It's a video game.)

The Good:
- The puzzle design for the most part is good, but most of the solutions are unnecessarily vague and too brutal for the common player.
- The ship combat is well-done and an inventive way to incorporate more Star Trek Elements into a Star Trek game.
- Creating multiple solutions and choices that have meaning in each mission is a great idea. The only downside is that two seemingly equal good choices can have drastically different effects on the outcome of the mission. This is bad for perfectionists who must get 100%.
- Continuing the 100% mission rating, there are some things that you must do in order to get 100% that you would never do beforehand unless you had a walkthrough or some-odd.
- The other characters that come with Kirk are well utilized in game-play by using them on other objects, and as sidekicks.

The Bad:
- Kirk and the gang would constantly walk to the center of each room after entering or completing a task. This is an unnecessary feature that just irritates me when I need to get places faster.
- The character's walking ANIMATION unnecessarily slows down with the walking SPEED when scaled down, both of which should probably be raised. Also, the rooms were poorly designed so that the characters scale upwards of 100% creating blocky shapes.
- The interface requires too many clicks for each simple task. First you have to right click to select your action. Then you have to move your mouse and left click to select your cursor. Then you have to find your hotspot to use it. If you want to do so again or with another cursor mode, you have to repeat it. That's 3 Clicks for every potential different action. Lucas Arts had a two click, or keyboard + 1 mouse click system, and Sierra had a pop-up GUI for a two-click system, or a right click system that would stay on the mode you chose. When you play an adventure game for hours, every little click adds up. ST25's interface just takes up too much time in the long-run for the entire span of the game.
- Having both an inventory item for McCoy and Spock, and the ability to use them on any object seems redundant. You don't know whether you should be using the device, or the character on the object you're looking at.
- Sometimes using characters on objects would be backwards. I tried for the longest time to have SPOCK interact with a science console, when I really needed KIRK to interact with the console, so then SPOCK would go over there when I had told KIRK to go there.
- Too many actions that seem to make sense give no feedback to the player, leaving him in the darkness of what to do.
- It's too hard to tell what hotspots are interact-able, and to distinguish between the interact-able ones, especially when they are grouped together in one blob. You don't know if it's a single hotspot or several hotspots touching each other. Fix this by adding a hotspot indicator GUI.
- More often times than not, I have no idea what to do or how to do it. The player is often times only told once of his goal, and forgetful people like me need reminders otherwise I have no clue what I'm doing. In one situation, I THOUGHT (because in this game, the designers want the player to come up with their own goals by interacting with the environment, which might be fun if the interface wasn't as unresponsive as it is)--I was saying, I THOUGHT I had to make a poisonous gas. But I had no idea how to do this. I was presented with several consoles and machines, and different ways of using them, and the only way I could figure out how to use them was by using Dr. McCoy on them, but he just gave me some unintelligible answer that needed to be described in LAYMAN'S TERMS for me. Most of the mission goals were just so vague and I didn't know what I was supposed to be doing.
- Many of the exits are poorly designed, leaving no sense of direction to the player, or letting them know that another room even exists in that direction.
- It's too hard to tell that you can combine inventory items. When it doesn't work, the game just switches to the other inventory item, causing me to think that the combine feature never existed.
- The difference between USE and GET is indistinguishable. Sometimes both are interchangeable, other times not so.

Anyway, I'm sorry to say I wrote this review without completing the game, because the final space battle is ridiculously hard, and it took me about fifty tries to go from 3 (enemies) vs me, to 1 on 1, and then it took me about twenty tries to give up, because the enemy was circling me and sitting on my head the whole battle. He would only pop out about once every 3 minutes, for a two second interval. And then, I didn't even know if my damage was properly registering, or he was just healing and recharging his shields every pass, causing all of my actions to be futile, thus inciting my choice to give up.

Star Trek: 25th Anniversary

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