Star Trek: The Next Generation: A Final Unity

Publisher: Spectrum Holobyte
Developer: Spectrum Holobyte
Year: 1995
Platform: DOS; Macintosh

With characters, actors, visuals, and sounds straight from one of my favorite television shows, I figured this game would have a hard time displeasing me. But it missed on all cylinders, and probably needs a new warp drive to boot.

In A Final Unity, you find the Enterprise unwillingly involved in a Garidian civil war and later in a race with the Garidians and Romulans to discover the power behind the mythological Unity Device. Several missions await, and on the way you run into Ferengi, Klingons, Vulcans, and a few new alien species. The plot is dished out slowly and effectively in gameplay and cut scenes, culminating in a satisfying end game reminiscent of Judgement Rites.

Star Trek: The Next Generation - A Final Unity DOS A zoological society governed by females.

Sadly, the plot is the only redeeming quality of the game outside from what the show itself brought to the table. The ship interface is downright maddening. The battle station and engineering are simultaneously slow and confusing, let alone uninteresting. While you can leave the controls up to Worf and La Forge, respectively, I was left yearning for the system in the Interplay games, which says a lot. Navigation is damn near impossible when the game doesn’t automatically set the course and speed for you.  You’re given a three-dimensional view of space, and discerning between sectors, neutral zones, and nebulae is a puzzle in itself. Finally, Starfleet gives many vague orders that are misleading at times. Sometimes, the plot advances simply by waiting for an indefinite period of time, with little clue that waiting, is in fact, what advances the game.

If that were all, I could forgive this section of the game. But away team missions are not much better. You can take any member of the crew on your away teams, and who you take matters very little, most of the time. Each crew member is given a ton of generic responses to every possible action and are not always in character. Who you control on the away mission is also usually irrelevant, and more or less is up to whose voice you’d rather hear at that moment. And while there are some conversation trees, there are rarely consequences for saying the wrong things until the end game, where you must control Picard. The puzzles themselves are fine, with some creative and original ideas and some clunkers. Regardless, some of the puzzles simply involve, again, too much waiting.

Star Trek: The Next Generation - A Final Unity DOS Romulan Warbirds closing in.

Yet, all of these faults pale in comparison to the most glaring atrocity in A Final Unity. The series was a veritable joy to watch week in and week out for two reasons.  The first one, intelligent and engaging stories, is present. But there was hardly an episode of TNG where I wasn’t laughing out loud on several occasions. There was a sense of humour underlining nearly every story, and sadly, there is absolutely nothing worthy of a laugh, or even a smile, in this game. Riker makes no mention of his exploits with women.  Data doesn’t ramble off his thesaurus nor makes any social faux-paus. Worf doesn’t even get to say, “Klingons do not play video games!” In short, the characters, while having the voices of their original actors, had none of the charm or personality. A significant reason for my enjoyment of 25th Anniversary and Judgment Rites was how well the writers embodied the characters and integrated them into the story. The rivalry between Bones and McCoy was there, as well as Scottie’s pleas in vain about the damage to engineering. And William Shatner’s overacting was funny enough on its own accord. I was hoping that perhaps Wesley Crusher could make an appearance so Picard could belt out, “Get the boy off my bridge!”  But, alas.

If you are a hard-core fan of Star Trek, you will probably enjoy this game, at least to some degree. But I found this adventure, despite the few positives, an insult to the fans.

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