|Star Trek: The Next Generation - A Final Unity|
|Genre||Warp zero point-and-click|
|MtAMinutes to Action||24|
|Keep Playing?||Not for the impatient|
|Buy from Amazon|
I've been on a huge Star Trek kick the last few months, I'm on an epic journey of trying to watch every single Star Trek episode. Ever. I'm about 180 episodes in out of 700+ plus, yeah, let's not get into that right now. But we're celebrating licensed games this month at the First Hour, so it seems appropriate to play a Star Trek video game. I did a lot of reading on what the good Star Trek games are, and landed on this one.
Star Trek: The Next Generations - A Final Unity is a point and click adventure game from Spectrum HoloByte, released in 1995. I'm a fan of adventure games, especially old school ones like Monkey Island, so it seemed like Final Unity would be just the game for me. I remember reading in PC Gamer back in 2000 that there had been no good Star Trek games until then with the release of Star Trek: Voyager - Elite Force. This sounded a bit odd to me considering they had been making Star Trek games for almost 20 years already, so I also wanted to try one that came before Elite Force but also had some fans behind it. Final Unity also qualified for that requirement.
Keep in mind that this game was made in 1995 for DOS while looking at the screenshots and reading my descriptions. I was suitably impressed, and believe you will be too. I played the game using DOSBox. Here's the first hour of Star Trek: The Next Generation - A Final Unity.
(minutes are in bold)
00 - I start the game and things are kicked off right away. Captain Jean-Luc Picard begins speaking as the Enterprise zooms through space. Some unidentified vessel is chasing after some other unidentified vessel. The game cuts to the bridge and we get our first look at the bridge cast.
01 - It's the Garidians! The smaller Garidian scout vessel is quickly approaching the Enterprise seeking political asylum. The Garidian warbird decloacks (it's huge) and hails the Enterprise. They begin tractor beaming in the scout ship.
02 - Next Generation's opening title sequence begins in its full pixelated glory. They actually did a pretty good job translating it to the DOS platform if you ask me.
03 - The game stars the full cast of the television show, including the captain, Number One, visor dude from Reading Rainbow, the Klingon, the spandex-wearing counselor, the doctor (the original one who was "on leave" for season 2), and Data... the android. I'm impressed that they managed to get all the voice talent, I'm just glad they didn't get Wesley.
04 - Finally, the music ends and we cut to the bridge. Picard sums up the situation and I get control of the mouse and can point around the bridge. I ask Data about transporting the scout's crew to the Enterprise, and Worf warns about us having to drop our shields. I get to give the order, and tell them to hold off. That would be too easy.
05 - Troi babbles about the usual emotions she's sensing, and Riker reminds me that the Garidians respect strength. I get the option to fire at 10% strength... and I do.
07 - The warbird hails us, Picard says, "on screen." The Garidian contact is a woman with white hair and the typical Star Trek alien forehead. I get four options of dialogue, but have to scroll awkwardly through them to actually see what they say.
08 - I tell her to get out of Federation space or face the consequences, they cut transmission and point their guns at us. I take the risk of dropping our shields and transporting the rogue crew aboard.
09 - It's successful, and the Garidians finally admit that they're wanted for murder. I ask for more details before I make a decision. Picard is very affirmative about the Neutral Zone violation.
11 - Looks like I have her son on board, I open communications with him. He is requesting political asylum. She is going to allow him to die to fulfill her mission, and opens fire.
12 - An extremely confusing view of tactical appears. What the heck is going on! There is so much information on this screen.
13 - I give Worf control by turning on Delegate mode. Thank you. We're still flailing around in space though, I'm so confused. I hail the Garidians, but she tells me to surrender. I think we're getting whooped.
14 - I ask what the terms of surrender are... and I lose. Well, that was a gigantic failure.
15 - Time to start a New Game, what to do differently though? Let's see if I can avoid battle if at all possible as that was just hellacious. I immediately beam up the refugees by flying the Enterprise through the tractor beam! That was awesome.
16 - We get hailed, and this time I simply tell her she's violating the neutral zone and has committed an act of war. Hmm... back to where I was before chatting with her son. Oh, she's scared and running back to her own space. Wow, that was nice, guess being forceful was correct.
18 - We resume our patrol and head off to Ruinore sector. Some guy with dreadlocks has hailed us and is complaining about a possible Romulan attack at their space station on orbiting Cymkoe IV.
19 - Picard sets course for their planet without consulting me. He warns the doctor that we may need her services, and then we're back to staring at the warp screen.
20 - A short cutscene of the Enterprise approaching the damaged space station begins. Doesn't look good. The station was researching the ability to detect cloaked vessels, which may have made them a target for the Romulans.
22 - The main cast chats a bit about the situation, lots and lots of talking without any interaction on my part. All right, I finally get control again, not sure what's left for me to do! I guess we could beam aboard to the station.
23 - Riker, Crusher, LaForge, and Worf all pile into the transporter, how do I send them off? There's some phasers and tricorders on the bottom, are those selected to come along with us or not come along? More confusion. Looks like they came with the crew after I transport them to the station (by sliding my hand up the console, just like in the show).
24 - I'm in control of Riker now and can walk him around the room. This is like a typical Monkey Island adventure game now as I can "look", "use", "talk", and "move" places.
26 - I check out the space station's transporter but can't make heads or tails of what I'm looking at. Time to head to the next room. Woah, there's a woman trapped under a large cable. Riker slowly walks to her as LaForge orgasms about the engineering of the station. Riker actually stopped walking while heading towards the injured woman.
28 - Have to save the woman by moving the cable, but Riker says the cable could crush her if moved. What...? I shoot the cable with my phaser but it only does so much. She's still trapped. The medical tricorder reports she has two broken legs.
30 - You can actually select specific characters to control, that's useful, and definitely deepens the gameplay options.
33 - Man, I've tried like every option, and it looks like I had to have Crusher talk to LaForge, a bit specific. His idea is to beam her from that location. Walking back to the original room now. Slower, slower, slower.
35 - I transport the piece of cable, and now it's time to walk back to the woman again.
36 - Crusher uses the med kit on the woman, and she begins to wake up. "How do you feel?" "I'll manage." She's the station's doctor, her and Crusher discuss how to rescue the wounded.
39 - I tell her we'll be back to check on her and walk to the next room. Luckily you don't have to individually tell everyone to walk around. We take the turbolift to engineering.
40 - LaForge is doing his thing in here, he is the chief engineer of the Enterprise. Man, so much techno-babble, even in the game!
41 - Moving on to Lab 4, it's funny how Worf is always ready with his phaser out and LaForge just has his fingers intertwined like he's twiddling his thumbs. There's a ton of crap on a cart, should I take it all? Yeah, why not?
43 - I'm staring at the control panel now, sometimes it feels like Myst being able to poke at all the devices. This panel initiates shutdowns of various groups around the station. I shutdown group 3 at random and something jettisons from the space station. Picard says it's a small asteroid, but the readings have to be false.
45 - I get the option of emergency beaming off the ship and chasing after it, but we decide to stick around and keep exploring. I guess we'll go talk to the woman, see if she knows what's up. She doesn't know what we're talking about. Pointless. The turbolift also goes to Adminstration, that's our next stop. I feel bad just leaving this woman laying here.
47 - More obscure control panels with random pictures! Ugh, I need an authorization code to use this thing, and of course, LaForge suggests that the doctor probably knows it. I'm having bad luck with the order of exploring.
49 - She finally tells me that the code is 334L42. I head back and redirect power. Now what...? Back to engineering of course.
51 - The giant phaser shooting thing is gone now, I can reach engineering proper and the core control room.
52 - There's a man here, he yells at me for barging in on him and disturbing his concentration. Well, excuse me princess.
53 - More techno-babble, and then I get some techno-babble choices. Ugh, this is like watching one of those tech heavy episodes where they just keep making words up to explain the situation.
54 - LaForge and Griems decide to split the work, and then he notices all the stuff I picked up in the other room. I guess it was good I just grabbed everything.
56 - I seal a hole in the power casing by following what the other guy told me to do, just random stuff it seems like. Immediately after that we're beamed aboard the Enterprise. We begin talking to the dreadlock dude again and he thanks us for helping him out.
58 - I tell Data to resume our patrol along the neutral zone. So was that like an episode of the show, or what? We're in hyperspace again, 12 light years away.
59 - Picard takes the opportunity to talk to our refugees in the lounge, they ask us to contact a particular vulcan about the "fifth scroll." That was a mistake, he spends the next minute describing what all five scrolls are.
60 - We arrive in the Ruinore sector and there's nothing there. Well, that's the end of the first hour of Star Trek: The Next Generation: A Final Unity.
Minutes to Action: 24
What I liked: It felt like an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, ignoring the opening sequence, it had a nicely wrapped opening, middle, and ending. I can imagine it being one of those forgettable episodes in the middle of a season. I don't mean to sound disparaging with that comment though, it was a good thing the way the game was paced.
It was a great surprise that Final Unity featured the entire main cast of the show, all rendered really well with full voice acting. And here I was wondering why the game came on a CD. There's Captain's Logs, techno-babble, and all the other things fans love about the show (for better or worse). I also enjoyed the rendered cutscenes, especially the opening. If this game does anything well, it's the presentation.
What I didn't like: While I somehow stumbled through the solutions, this is not really the way to make a good adventure game. I had four characters with me and to accomplish what I wanted, I needed to have one specific character talk with another specific character, something that is not even an obvious thing in the first place (most adventure games just have you talking with non-playable characters). Then there was the cart of techno-babble objects. What's a wave converter and inverter coupling? Who knows.
I also don't like games (adventure games in particular) that punish you with Game Overs for selecting the wrong options during a dialogue sequence. Maybe it is entirely possible to win that ship-to-ship battle with the Garidians... but probably not. Come on writers, we're 10 minutes into the game and you're already punishing me for not acting exactly like Captain Picard would.
What I hated: The atrociously slow walking by the characters. There's a woman across the room who has been crushed by a power cable, let's just casually stroll over to her and stop on the way to discuss the finer points of the station's engineering. Totally messed up, even the characters in the show wouldn't do that.
Gameplay: Slow, awkward, a bit of pixel hunting, and a lot of trial and error. Everything a point and click adventure game shouldn't be. It was kind of original how you could switch between people in the away team, but it just seemed to complicate everything four fold.
Fun Factor: Well, when you're the model for bad adventure first hour gaming, it's not much fun. Though making me feel like I beat a contained "episode" gave me some satisfaction.
Graphics and Sound: Definitely the best this game has to offer. Pretty stunning presentation for a DOS game in 1995. Great cutscenes, good in-game graphics, and top notch voice acting by the real actors.
Story: Definitely leaves something to be desired, especially when you give me a Game Over for not picking the right choices right away. I wouldn't have minded something a bit more exciting too, plus the opening sequence was just kind of tossed aside for the main mission in the first hour.
Would I keep playing? No, this game basically exhibited all the bad aspects of adventure games, in my opinion.