Three years after Captain Kirk passed the torch over to Jean Luc Picard in the seventh Star Trek motion picture, MicroProse finally gave us the movie tie in. Released in 1997, Star Trek: Generations adds a heavy dose of adventuring to the first-person-shooter but is it any better for it?
There are a multitude of levels which kind of follow the plot of the already convoluted movie. Basically, a guy named Soran with some crazy anger issues wants to shoot trilithium torpedoes into a number of suns of various solar systems in our galaxy in order to destroy them. With so many lives and planets at stake, the Enterprise has taken upon itself to stop him.
If you're a veteran of shooters, you may find the controls a bit weird. I ended up having to remap the controls to the number pad because I don't have three hands. This is your movement, including strafing and looking up and down. On top of this, you still have your mouse which will do everything else such as aim, soot and manipulate your inventory or environmental objects. The mouse cursor will wave across the screen like a crosshair in a light gun game, playing much the same way as Terminator 2049 or CyClones. The pace is overall much, much slower than the average Doom clone so it's not entirely detrimental to the overall experience, even if it's not ideal.
You'll need to perform a short range scan on your destination
before you can play that level or fight that Klingon ship.
There are several points of interaction throughout each level which can simple world-building details, red herrings or actual puzzles. These puzzles are mostly inventory based, but there is the odd contraption or gizmo to solve. At any rate, it's much more involving than finding a correctly coloured key that featured in most other shooters.
The top half of the game screen is your main viewing area where locations are rendered using raycasting instead of 3D polygons with everything else 2D sprites. It's incredibly dated, even for 1997, but there is a reason for this. The underlying computer code by Spectrum Holobyte allowed the developers at MicroProse to include the additional adventure elements without building the engine from scratch. Those elements are dedicated to the bottom half of the screen, which is entirely controlled with the mouse.
The Object Window will be how you interact with the world,
whether by examining dead bodies (left) or flipping switches (right)
To the bottom left, you have three tabs, your Health display, your Tricorder or map display and your mission objectives. On the right-hand side is your inventory, which you can drag items into one of the twelve slots or drag them out again. In the centre is the Object Window which offers a detailed view of anything interactive directly in front or beneath you. This is where you can pick up objects, activate screens and solve puzzles. Just above this window is your Phaser settings which detail the strength the weapon has been set to (green is stun, yellow is kill and red is eviscerate) as well as how much power it has left.
That's quite a lot to keep track of, and this control scheme is both a blessing and a curse. It allows for some interesting missions with a ton of variety but it's also cumbersome as all hell, not to mention confusing to the uninitiated. I recommend a good read of the dense 64-page manual before setting off.
Between each mission, you'll be watching the stars in the Stellar Cartography room. Here, Data can conduct scans of different planets and solar systems while tracking the whereabouts of Soran. Essentially, it's a glorified level select but there is a lot more to it than that. Certain events happen in real-time meaning that you may miss the window to play some of the levels. Occasionally random Klingon or Romulan ships appear, meaning it's time for a space fight.
The Tactical Space Fights are not like your usual space sim.
Control the Enterprise using the control panel to give orders.
At first glance, these interstellar dogfights look like your average space simulation game like Wing Commander or X-Wing, but it plays much more like a strategy or tactical game. While you can control the position of the Enterprise, the direction it's pointing isn't as important as the information on the control panel. The Sensor in the centre shows where you are in relation to enemy ships, each of can be clicked on to target them. Below this are two buttons which will fire your torpedos or shoot phasers. Torpedos are limited in number, and phasers need time to recharge after each shoot so use them tactically.
For more tactical manoeuvres, click on the button at the bottom. This will give Picard a number of commands to issue such as evade or maintain distance. I found this to be a better option to control the ships movements than taking it on directly, especially when you can quickly issue them using the number keys (don't use the pad if you're using my controls - it will only confuse everyone).
There are a number of puzzles in each level to break up the action.
Here you'll need to replace a busted Illuminator Core.
To the left, you'll see a visual representation of the ship you've locked on to. The image will visually show the health of several parts of the vessel but you'll really need to focus on what's above it. Here you can select where to target your fire such as Weapons Systems, Sensors or Life Support as well as a more detailed representation on how damaged each section is. They're not marked on the screen, so again, keep the manual to hand. The right-hand side shows the same information, but for the Enterprise.
These sections aren't as entertaining as the first-person Away Missions of which there are a healthy twelve to get through. You'll battle a number of ships all of which play pretty much the same while every planet you explore looks very different and interesting despite the archaic game engine. Depending on the level, you'll even get to play as several different members of the Enterprise crew from both eras including Data, Warf and Captains Picard and Kirk.
The Away Missions offer a ton of variety, both in location and player character.
The time it took for this adaptation to reach out monitors (3 years) is longer than the notoriously long wait time for GoldenEye on the Nintendo 64 (2 years). While that game ushered in a new era of first-person-shooters on consoles, even adding to the gun-toting formula of those found on PC, Star Trek: Generations feels archaic by comparison even for the time period. The inclusion of adventure-heavy mechanics is admirable but how they're implemented leaves a lot to be desired. It's obvious some talented and imaginative creatives worked on this game, but they unfortunately stuck to a design philosophy with clunky and unintuitive mechanics.
The final product is something of a missed opportunity. Star Trek fans looking for action can find better elsewhere while adventure gamers have a plethora of classics to choose from. As such, Generations simply cannot compete.
To download the game, follow the link below. This exclusive installer uses PCem running Windows '95. Press Ctrl-Alt-PgDown to toggle fullscreen. Press Ctrl-End or middle mouse button to release the mouse. Manual included. Tested on Windows 10.
IMPORTANT - Remember to shut down the emulated version of Windows before exiting PCem. This could potentially result in errors, lost saves and corrupt data. Close the program only when it is safe to do so.
15.04.2019 - Ver.2 - Fixed missing CD error (those who've already downloaded Ver.1 can replace
(Install Dir)\CD\STGE.cfg with the one in the download link)
File Size: 1.02 Gb. Install Size: 1.25 Gb. Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ
Star Trek: Generations (the game) is © MicroProse
Star Trek: Generations (the movie) is © Paramount Pictures
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me