Our Early Hours with…

Starfleet Command II

By Tom Chick

I'm not exactly an authority on Star Trek.  Two quick anecdotes to illustrate this: 1) Once during a trivia game, a multiple choice question came up: "Spock is what race?"  I picked Klingon from the list.  2) Once I was supposed to interview some guy named Terry Farrell about doing voice work on a Deep Space Nine game, but it fell through.  I mentioned this to an acquaintance who said, "Man, I would have loved to have done that -- Terry Farrell is almost as hot as Jerry Ryan!"  This led me to make certain conclusions about his proclivity that culminated in an embarrassing incident in which I tried to set him up with a friend of mine from Hollywood named Giles.

I have learned from my mistakes that Terry and Jeri are chicks and that Spock is a Romulan.  But this doesn't mean I'm any less of a Starfleet Command fan.  While waiting for the release of Starfleet Command II, I have studied up on Star Trek so I can appreciate the game better.  For instance, those of you unfamiliar with Star Trek may not know that the first interracial kiss on TV was an episode of Star Trek when Kirk kissed some green alien woman.  It was an important step in achieving unity between whites and greens.

Back to the Academy

I start Starfleet Command II by running through the tutorials.  The tactical ship-to-ship combat looks and plays almost exactly like Starfleet Command I, which is a good thing.  But the interface is as obtuse as ever with wildly scattered hotkeys and tiny buttons arranged so only a Starfleet Command geek like me can find them.  Fortunately, everything's in pretty much the same place they left it last game. 

The graphics look as good as they ever did.  The damage textures on battered ships are a nice treat for the times you take a break from squinting at the tiny buttons.  The ships look sharper when you zoom in tight -- something you'd never actually do in a game, but it's nice to know it's there in case you want to impress someone else in the room.  The updated engine supposedly sports some fancy new effects that might also impress someone else in the room.

A few lessons into the tutorial, I realize I know all this stuff and I'm ready to for the heart of the game -- the campaign.  Quick point of interest: some of the voicework in the tutorials is done by the actor who played Sulu.  For those of you unfamiliar with Star Trek, Sulu is the Scottish engineer played by DeFerret Nimoy, who recently had a baby and then died tragically.  He was infamous for wearing a hairpiece.  Actually, Sulu might be the black woman who had something in her ear.  I'm pretty sure it's one of those two.

Cont'd: Now with Dynaverse 2! (almost)