Friday, 12 June 2020

STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE 9 - THE FALLEN


At on time, Star Trek games were very hit and miss. All throughout the 90s, we had a slew of great adventure games, a plethora of average platformers and some awful action games but by the beginning of the new millennium, the quality began to take a notable shift for the better. With an aim to mimic the action-adventure acrobatics of Tomb Raider, Star Trek: Deep Space 9 - The Fallen (2000, Simon & Schuster Interactive) was one of the many highlights of those times.

Captain Sisko and his crew of peace-keepers have caught wind of a trio of ancient artefacts that when combined has the power to destroy worlds. Known as the three Lost Orbs of the Pah-Wraiths, they are the relics of a cult-like religion known as the Bajoran who have since split into two warring sects. Not only have their whereabouts sparked the interest of the more violent side of this religion, but a number of other factions have joined the race too. These include such famous Star Trek adversaries such as the Cardassians and the Dominion as well as a previously unknown alien race called the Grigari.

The training level is entertaining in and of itself. 
It helps you get to grips with the many mechanics found in the game.

There are three narratives to play through, each one starring a different character. Captain Benjamin Sisko begins the adventure by mitigating the deadly consequences of the Grigari's hunt before heading off in pursuit of the remaining orbs, while Major Kira Nerys assists the more peaceful Bajoran by protecting their monastery. Lt Commander Worf, on the other hand, aids in repairing the starship's engines before diving headfirst into a Cardassian-held mining planet. All three follow a different fork of the narrative and even though they intertwine occasionally, all are commendably worthwhile.

Sisko begins his campaign by rescuing survivors from a damaged Bajoran starship named Ke'el Tuul. The vicious Gregari have targeted the ship in order to steal one of the orbs that were in their possession. Most of Sisko's stages tend to exist in a maze of locked doors and keycards and this one's no different. As well as hunting the different cards, you're also tasked with pinning Pattern Enhancers on survivors so they can be safely beamed out. The result is that his levels tend to be something of a treasure hunt, with a lot of time spent backtracking through the large environments.

The Grigari have shields that vibrate at different frequencies.
Scan them with the tricorder to calibrate your phaser so you can shoot through them.

While all this is going on, Kira has made her way to the Bajoran monastery where she meets an old acquaintance named Obanak. He has become a controversial leader of the Pah-Wraiths having an alternative take on the religion. He has, therefore, earned the ire of the Kahl-Taan, the Bajoran military who have infiltrated his temple. This is where Kira comes in to play the hero, shooting down soldiers with abandon. Despite all this, her stages tend to focus more on puzzles and navigating platforms so it won't be long before you'll be scrambling across the temple grounds hunting artefacts.

As you can guess, Kira's missions tend to most resemble Tomb Raider. Locked doors will often require puzzles to open instead of keys and you will come across the occasional leap of faith. This is especially felt in the Jerado Temple level, where ruined stonework and carved symbols make it more entertaining to play through. At one point Kira will infiltrate a Cardassian research facility, requiring stealth to get by guards and wiles to earn security clearance. It's a nice change of pace, but be mindful of where you take out your weapon. It can get dicey pretty quickly.

Between each mission, you have free reign of Deep Space Nine itself.

Worf plays a lot different in that he uses hand-to-hand combat. With his trusty bat'leth blade to hand, he has to get close to the enemies to attack but it's actually quite satisfying. His first mission away from Deep Space 9 takes place in the Jerado Mines, a dilapidated location filled with crumbling rocks and lava pits. Some of the areas in this location really show off the power of the Unreal Tournament engine, with some nice lighting effects and a commendably far draw distance.

Developed by The Collective (of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Men in Black: The Game fame), this third-person action-adventure pushed that engine to great effect. While a little blocky and wonky in places, particularly in the facial animations and textures, the visuals really were something to behold back in 2000. At its highest official resolution - which is how I played it - it looks crisp and clean but there is a modern patch that can increase it to any setting you desire, including widescreen. Be warned, though, while the in-game HUD is perfectly fine, the menu will be a little cut off when playing in widescreen.

Use the square bracket keys to cycle through your inventory.

As you can expect with the Unreal Tournament engine, the controls use the modern mouse and keyboard setup. You get decent accuracy during the action and gunplay, but the sensitivity of the mouse can often be a hindrance when platforming. Jumps are hard to gauge and it can be a struggle just stay on a ledge. Thankfully, exploration isn't usually done by mountain climbing or potholing, but by finding hidden doors, passageways and cubby holes using your tricorder.

When in hand, the tricorder acts as a map or radar of your location. Hold the right mouse button (or Alt) to scan anything you've locked onto. This element is heavily featured in the game, with some shielded doors and enemies vibrating at a certain frequency. Program this into your phaser and you can shoot past the shield, damaging an enemy or opening up the field of energy to let you pass. It's an interesting mechanic, but when a lot of different enemies pile up on you, each with their own frequency, it can get cumbersome and annoying. Thankfully, only one enemy type requires this.

Swimming is more than a little awkward, and not just because of the low visibility (left).
Your tricorder scanner can detect items and enemies through walls (right)

Even though I'd say Tomb Raider was a heavy influence, The Fallen isn't as acrobatic as that classic. The training level may give you the impression that it is but moments where you're required to shimmy across an edge or make huge leaps are not frequent. Most of the game is focussed on combat. You have your trusty phaser which will quickly run out of juice before recharging along with a number of additional weapons that simulates shotguns, mines or rocket launchers.

Beyond weapons and scanners, you also have a flashlight and a communicator. You can call your crew back on the base who will offer clues, plot details or assistance. If your tricorder shows that you are in the middle of a cloud of blue fog, health and ammo can be beamed freely to your location. You can find such items in the game, often in breakable boxes, but they are still few and far between.

This puzzle requires you to press the symbols in the correct order to open the door.

In between missions, you'll get to explore Deep Space 9 itself. It's been shrunken down a little but all of the familiar locales are there. Sadly, not all of the cast return to voice their polygonal counterparts. Sisko is played Kevin Richardson (Goro in the Mortal Kombat movie) instead of Avery Brooks but Nana Visitor and Michael Dorn both return as Kira and Worf respectively.

When Star Trek: Deep Space 9 - The Fallen excels, it really excels. The plot and level design converge admirably and no level feels like filler, even though each campaign recycles locations if not level design. The result is a compelling game - three actually -  and one of the best uses of the Star Trek license out there.


To download the PC game, follow the link below. This is a custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber uses dgVoodoo to run on modern systems. Manual included. Tested on Windows 10.

File Size: 354 Mb.  Install Size: 722 Mb.  Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ

Download

Watch the Video Review below



Star Trek: Deep Space 9 - The Fallen is © Simon & Schuster Interactive
Star Trek: Deep Space 9 (the series) is © Paramount Pictures
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me


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11 comments:

  1. Thank you! That's a great game!

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  2. Are you still working on getting Star Trek Hidden Evil and Klingon Academy on here?

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    Replies
    1. I've not looked at Klingon Academy yet, but I'm sure I will. Hidden Evil is still being a pain. Haven't quite cracked it.

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    2. Do you think Star Trek:Voyager- Elite Force games are also going to eventually arrive here?

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  3. Finally! :)

    Thanks a lot!

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  4. Is the Convergence mod (on ModDB) compatible with this version?

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    Replies
    1. I'm not sure how the mods word, but I assume so. Read the ChamberNotes.txt to read what I've actually done to the game. It may give you a better idea.

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  5. I'm SO excited to play this. I've always wanted to! Hope your able to get Hidden Evil working also! You are doing great things man. Thank you so much!

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  6. Fantastic to see another Star Trek game added to the library. Running smoothly as always - great job. Have you pre-patched the game (DS9 The Fallen had a mini code patch and a full patch post release)?

    Convergence is an expansion / add on released by members of the game's development team. Do you think this could be included with the release here on Collection Chamber?

    I have Hidden Evil working perfectly using dgVoodoo2 and replacing the original game Mss32.dll (sound) with the file from DS9 The Fallen. Happy to provide further details if that would be helpful?

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    Replies
    1. I've tried replacing the Mss32.dll with no luck, but I didn't source it from The Fallen. Might give it another look.

      IIRC, the official patch is present in this release, as well as an unofficial one that allows for widescreen. I've not tried it, but I reckon the expansion should work. TBH I wasn't aware of it prior to this review otherwise I may have included it.

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  7. https://sourceforge.net/p/dxwnd/discussion/general/thread/0e0b14a7/?page=1 - for discussion of the Mss32.dll issue.
    Happy to share the dgvoodoo settings but they're pretty standard

    http://gaming.trekcore.com/thefallen/downloads.html link to Convergence download
    https://www.trektoday.com/news/130405_02.shtml - background info on Convergence

    Worth updating and including the expansion

    ReplyDelete