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Star Trek: Tactical Assault

Platform(s): Nintendo DS, PSP
Genre: Strategy
Publisher: Bethesda


PSP Preview - 'Star Trek: Tactical Assault'

by John Curtis on Nov. 2, 2006 @ 6:24 a.m. PST

Star Trek: Tactical Assault features real-time spaceship combat from the universe of the original Star Trek series. With a wide array of authentic Star Trek races, ships, and weaponry, you can engage in single-player battle through either the Federation or Klingon campaigns or in head-to-head wireless multiplayer combat.

Genre: Real-Time Strategy
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Developer: Quicksilver
Release Date: November 14, 2006

Space: the final frontier. Star Fleet's ongoing mission: to explore strange new worlds, seek out new life, and new civilizations, and to boldly go where no man has gone before. Stardate -316131.50684931496 (November 14, 2006) Bethesda Softworks and Quicksilver release Star Trek: Tactical Assault for the Sony PSP and Nintendo DS, bringing the Star Trek universe into the palms of many Trekkies everywhere.

When taking a popular television series, movie, or anime and transforming it into a playable game, the end results are usually empty-handed interpretations at best. However Star Trek: Tactical Assault breaks the mold of its predecessors and gives new life to the age-old classic series. The new title puts you on the bridge, where you will play as the captain in one of two single-player campaigns.

Keep peace in the galaxy while playing as the United Federation, or be the bad guy while playing as the Klingon Empire in two full-length, independent campaigns. Each campaign will consist of around 15 missions that feature authentic races, ships, and weaponry all set around the same timeline followed by the original "Star Trek" movies.

The missions and outcomes are solely in the hands of the player and the decisions that he makes during gameplay. An example of this is in one of the missions, where you're ordered to investigate a Federation cargo ship in distress in another star system. After arriving and conducting a quick scan of the sector, two ships are found in the area: the Federation cargo ship and a Klingon fighter. At this point, the player can choose to hail either of the ships to attempt verbal contact, or just raise the shields and weapons and destroy the Klingon vessel. You will get different responses and results based upon the order in which you do things. You can also choose different responses when communicating with other vessels, which also yield varied results. Sometimes saying the wrong thing will get you into a very sticky situation that you're unlikely to survive.

The combat system in Tactical Assault is more about strategy and not so much about button-mashing. Before entering into combat, you must give the order to charge shields and weapons by enabling a red alert. Once the shields and weapons are online and you have maneuvered your ship into firing range of the enemy vessel, the battle ensues. Both the enemy ship and your own have shields that must be penetrated to reveal weak spots so you can deal actual damage to the vessel. Sporadic firing in an attempt to defeat an enemy vessel won't get you very far either; instead, you must concentrate your phasers and photon torpedoes (which take time to recharge) on one area of the shield, which is divided into six different sections. While attempting to penetrate an area of an enemy shield, you must also watch your own shields and make sure that enemy fire doesn't cause too much damage.

After completing a mission, you are judged on your performance. You are awarded promotion points based on what decisions you made during the mission and whether or not you did everything in your power to basically avoid a fight. Use the promotion points to promote different members from your crew. Promoting the weapons officer will give you options of upgrading phaser recharge time or weapons power. Promoting the engineering officer will give you options of upgrading the efficiency of different weapons. Throughout the game and after completing different missions, you are awarded better ships; the crew and upgrades you've assigned to your ship will also transfer over to the new vessel.

Another feature included in Tactical Assault is the multiplayer mode, where you can play head-to-head wirelessly during a skirmish mode. You can choose from one of five different races – including the two from the single-player campaigns – and the Romulans, Gorn and Orion. From the looks of things, only ad-hoc mode is supported.

Tactical Assault's graphics are some of the best I have seen on the PSP. The clarity of the sharp smooth lines that comprise the ships and environments are incredible. Colors are vibrant and help portray the look and feel of actual Star Trek environments. The sound is great, from the hum of blasting phasers beaming into enemy shields to parts of your own ship being blown off.

Every button on the PSP unit is used while commanding your space vessel, but the different button functions are easy to memorize. Since the game is an RTS, you also have at least a few seconds to choose what you want to do. The PSP's analog nub is used to pilot your spacecraft, while the d-pad is used during menu navigation. The other buttons are used to bring up different menus, set speeds, and to control different things, like firing weapons.

After playing the latest preview build, it looks like Star Trek: Tactical Assault is shaping up to be quite a good game. Gameplay is fun and fairly difficult, so it will take some time to master the approximately 30 single-player campaign missions. The multiplayer mode looks promising and will be useful in passing the time at any Trekkie convention. Star Trek and RTS fans alike can start getting excited because "the good" Star Trek game is coming soon to a handheld format near you.

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