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SummaryMake it so!.....kind of...
The GoodFollowing the steps of the Star Trek adventure games by Interplay, Microprose released a Star Trek licensee of their own based on the Next Generation series. So, yeah, basically it's a ripoff of the Interplay games with some cosmetic changes... but there are some interesting additions that make it a much more solid title in several areas.
For those of you out of the loop, you take the role of the Enterprise's captain and have full access to each of the Enterprise's major areas and workstations, represented via hotspot-loaded screens which allow you to either talk to the bridge crew, communicate with starfleet, navigate through space, fight other ships and assemble away teams for teleportation while the story develops. It is in these away missions that the adventure gameplay comes into play, as beaming down takes you to the familiar 2D adventure game environment where you have to solve a variety of puzzles in order to complete the specified objective using a point 'n click interface and combining the abilities of each crewmember. That's right, as not every character is able to do everything you'll have to think before you select who you beam down, as Dr. Crusher will have no problem healing a wounded npc, but she'll be completely lost if you use her to repair an engine. Combat situations might also arise, which although completely simplified so as to remain in the adventure genre format, still mean that you are going to have to keep an eye on each character's health and bring a "red shirt" with you, in case you smell trouble. This minor touches helps add some variety to the way you can solve most puzzles and missions, and the alternation between the point 'n click sequences and the ones aboard the ship where you fight enemy vessels and develop most of the major plot point knocks some enjoyment into the stale adventure game formula.
Final Unity's best features however come from a production-values and trekkie fandom point of view: For starters Microprose threw some money into the game and it shows. Not only the SVGA graphics blow the Interplay games out of the water, but they also secured all of the series main cast for the voice acting, included music straight from the series and added rendered cutscenes that perfectly mimick the "vibe" of the show. In fact, the game plays like an episode ripped right out of the TV, complete with a well designed intro in which the first glimpses of the story are laid out, and as impending danger looms ahead the intro cutscene with the Entreprise flying-by starts rolling cued by the familiar music and Patrick Stewart blurting the even more familiar "Go to red alert!". Great care was taken to make the license justice and it shows. The game even comes loaded with a computer database with all sorts of entertaining Nerdy stuff from the series as well as accurate depictions of the navigation system (a 3D cube with complete stellar and planet information, speed management, etc.), Worf's battle station (which allows you to delegate combat control to Worf or do it yourself), and Geordi's engineer control.
The BadThe biggest problem with a Final Unity is that it's just a classic point 'n click adventure and not the adventure/space exploration, etc. hybrid it sold itself out to be. The rest of the peripheral elements are not only useless junk, but actually bog down the adventure elements.
While there's a lot of stuff here that could have been used to extend the game's gameplay into much deeper territories, most of the added features in the "ship mode" are basically useless and badly designed. What am I talking about? Allow me to explain: The basic flow of the game is that you get an assignment from Starfleet to do something and you have to navigate to your destination and deploy your away team. Unfortunately, getting there is slightly more complicated than first advertised, as the navigation system is almost impossible to use (no way to input your coordinates except clicking them in the 3D cube and looking at the systems/planets one by one yourself). Space itself is completely empty. Seriously, the truth is NOT out there... so either you get to the hotspot you are supposed to go to or just waste your time. Fortunately you can instruct Data to just take you wherever the hell Starfleet wants you to go and that's it, which means that the navigation computer while nice to look at, is completely useless. As you approach your destination you'll unfortunately get to face a random number of enemy ships, which takes you to the combat station. Ah... the combat station... I finished the game and I still don't know how to use it. All I know is that while initially it seems as if you are able to do everything from complex maneuvers to individually shielding the bathroom in Picard's cabin the truth is that manual control is completely screwed up and unresponsive, and the only way you'll get something done is if you just delegate the fights to Worf. Ditto the engineering station, which is even more useless than the other two (not once did I touch it).
This leaves the ship as basically a way to waste time as you go between each "real" game area, and to talk to other ships/characters... groan....
Finally the story is only average, and there are some truly annoying moments in the adventure sequences, which involve you waiting around as you send some stupid probes to get some samples, or get around some alien security systems that function on a timer (so you better time those clicks boys 'n girls!.... Man, don't these people know adventure gamers are devoid of reflexes?).