In my continuing mission to explore strange new worlds, I thought I'd seek out new life and new civilizations in Star Trek: The Next Generation - A Final Unity. Let's boldly go where no one (or quite a few judging by the sales numbers) has gone before, and take a look at Spectrum Holobyte's classic 1995 adventure that is perhaps my favourite Star Trek game of them all.
After receiving a distress signal from a Garidian scout ship while on a routine patrol of the Romulan neutral zone, the crew of the Enterprise are embroiled in a mission to prevent a civil war on the Garid homeworld. This leads them in an interstellar treasure hunt to find a legendary MacGuffin known as the Lawgiver's Fifth Scroll. Along the way, you'll solve a number of problems like a damaged research vessel and a murder mystery on a monkey-run reservation planet.
While the overarching plot is a compelling one, the individual subplots are also incredibly memorable. Each planet your Away Team visits are filled with enough detail, both visually and contextually, to give them a tangible depth of their own.
You can choose your Away Team and equipment in the transporter room (left).
The holodeck allows you to view any of the unlocked CGI cinematics (right).
Between each mission, you'll be on the Enterprise where the traditional point-and-click adventuring is eschewed to be more of a decision-based affair. Riker, Data, Worf and Troi are all at hand to give advice, as are whatever passengers you may have on board, but it's ultimately down to you. Sometimes you just have to consider the situation for a bit and wait for something to happen. There's a real-time element when you're on the bridge so there's a fair amout of waiting around. For example, warping to different locations takes time, a counter ticking down on the information bar at the bottom. Sometimes, if you ask your crew for help, you may have to allow them time for work to be done before they give you their analysis.
This will befuddle many traditional adventurers, especially when conversations can lead to very different outcomes. For example, an early encounter with a Garidian Warbird will require you to select the right response or you'll be attacked. You'll have to seriously consider your options, and in this case, the advice of Riker too.
There's a lot to take on if you choose to take command of space battles.
It's probably best to delegate the action over to Worf.
When in battle, you'll be taken to the Tactical screen which gives you an impressive (for the time) third-person view of the ships in combat. You don't control the ship directly, but you are able to bark orders or simply allow Worf to take over. That's what he's paid for after all (if the Federation had such a concept anyway). If you want to do things all by yourself, you'll be confronted with a slew of options, such as shields, torpedoes and the like. I completely forgot about these sections, so chose the hardest difficulty on my recent playthrough thinking it would only provide more challenging puzzles. Not once was I able to successfully win on my own this time round, but at least Worf was on hand to assist. I guess Commander as a future career path is out of the question then.
When you reach a planet, you can assign a group of four characters for your Away Team. As well as the aforementioned five found on the bridge, you will also have the choice of Dr Crusher, Lieutenant Commander LaForge and Ensigns Carlstrom and Butler - your stereotypical Red Shirts. Choose your team wisely as there are a few puzzles only specific crew members can solve. You can still return to the ship if you want to swap someone out so it won't lead to unnecessary dead ends.
What is surprising is that every interaction and conversation on the surface missions will have nine different variations - one of each character - and every actor from the show reprises their role here. These sections are not insubstantial either so that was quite an undertaking to fit them in during their busy schedule. The puzzles here are almost entirely inventory based. You won't have to worry about conversation trees as you would on the bridge, but that doesn't mean your actions won't have consequences. You can get yourself into some deadly situations, though experienced adventurers (and those with common sense) are unlikely to get a game over here. Those failures are reserved for events on the bridge.
Many locations contain long walkways making them a slow slog to travel through.
Hold Shift to walk slightly faster or engage DOSBox's turbo mode using Alt-F12
Beyond the tactical sections - which aren't bad just out of place in an otherwise traditional adventure - my main gripe is how long it takes to do anything. Not only do you have to wait for warp or for Worf, many planet-side screens have long stretches of pathways on which to walk. Slowly. You can hold Shift to increase their walking speed by a fraction, but I found it best to use DOSBox's in-built turbo option. Hold Alt-F12 during the slow bits (like collecting samples in the second mission) and you could reduce the overall play time by a third.
But none of this sullies what is otherwise an exceptional game. It takes its cues from Interplay's 25th Anniversary and Judgement Rites and improves on them every step on the way. The story is compelling, the characters - both pre-existing and original - are well thought out and the gameplay varied and involving. You should really play this game so, in the words of Captain Jean Luc Picard, "make it so".
To download the game, follow the link below. This custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber uses DOSBox to bring the game to modern systems. Manual included. Tested on and Windows 10.
File Size: 576 Mb. Install Size: 669 Mb. Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ
Star Trek: The Next Generation - A Final Unity is © Spectrum Holobyte
Star Trek: The Next Generation © Universal Pictures
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me