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SummaryReally, really good for a Star Trek game.
The GoodUnlike the land-based (and often unplayable) New Worlds, Armada is centered around fleet-based combat. Its 2D playing field resembles the excellent Starfleet Command, but lacks the strategic micromangement of that title. Although most RTSs are structured so each race has their own scenario, in Armada you'll play through all the races as the story unfolds. Although this is both a plus and a minus, the ability to see the story from the Federation, Klingon, Romulan and Borg perspectives is a great feature.
Each race has four levels to themselves and then the final four levels allow control over several races. Most of the levels involve building defensive structures around your construction buildings while amassing an Armada to destroy the enemy, but some have unique objectives such as jumping from wormhole to wormhole in an effort to escape the Borg or infiltrating a prison to rescue a scientist.
The maps are largely well designed. Five different nebulas exist and have unique effects (like different colored kryptonite). Some nebulas shield your ships from enemy sensors, some deplete your shields and others restore damaged ship functions. There are also planets which exist beneath the 2D playing field, Dilithium Moons, and asteroid belts.
Sound effects were good, but I felt that music strayed too far from the familiar orchestral themes. Believability is sustained by Patrick Stewart, Michael Dorn and Denise Crosby who supply the voices for the characters they created.
Graphicly, this game reflects its age, but the opening movie is one of the most exciting ones I've seen. Ship models look great and weapon effects are impressive.
The game features a wide number of buildings and units and retains unique racial abilities such as assimilation or cloaking. There are also many special weapons available and unique to each races. One of the cooler ones (although it was used against me) is the Borg nanite infection which causes a scrambled interface for several sections.
The BadAlthough Armada is a great Star Trek game, it has serious shortcomings as an RTS. Enemy AI is particularly poor. When making raids on your base, the enemy doesn't pick off defensive structures, instead they fly into the heart of your base and are decimated. The enemy is also very bad at securing their own base. They never use an overkill technique of layering defensive batteries and typically do not rebuild destroyed structures.
While numerous units are available through a very logical and well explained technology tree, I never found it useful to balance my fleet. Once I was able to build the biggest ships, I relied on those solely. I was also unimpressed with the special weapons, save for the Romulan Shield Drain and Borg Holding Beam.
Level design was largely good, but some of the sections with asteroid belts were obviously puzzles and mazes. Also, while 20 levels sounds like a decent amount for a game, they are all relatively easy so the game feels a bit short.
Also, elements of this game were over-scripted. There is no way (as some players might want to) to jump to the Borg missions, you have to play all the races in order. Ships vital to the story, like the Enterprise, must be protected when you are the Federation and cannot be destroyed when you are the Borg.
Finally, do we need another time-travel, Borg-threat scenario?
The Bottom LineStrip away the Star Trek elements from Armada and you'd have an okay real-time strategy game with an intriguing (if overly scripted) story. Armada (as the previous review mentioned) has a lot to offer for Trek fans who've suffered through a number of horrid games.
Note: I played the 1.2 release which was very stable, had excellent pathfinding, and allowed in-mission saves. Also, I'm not sure where the problem came in, but this game took extremely long to install/uninstall.