REVIEW: Star Trek Conquest

By Shaun Hatton - December 9th, 2007

2007_12_08_startrekconquest.jpg
Developed by Bethesda for PlayStation 2. Also available for Wii.

2007_12_08_startrekconquest.gifConfession time: I love Star Trek: The Next Generation. There have been very few TV series than ran as long and were as consistently excellent in terms of story and character development. I used to play the Customizable Card Game by Decipher. I have all the seasons on DVD. And the end of Star Trek Nemesis haunted me.

With all that out of the way, when I saw Star Trek Conquest for the PlayStation 2 was only $15, I figured it was worth picking up just to check out. I also figured that in some way, I would have my heart broken by this game. And I was right.

One of the things that made Star Trek: The Next Generation so great to me was Jean-Luc Picard’s character. He was strong, diplomatic, and sympathetic. He was a firm believer in the Prime Directive.

In Star Trek Conquest, the Prime Directive is thrown right out the window, along with diplomacy of any sort. The known galaxy is at war. Every faction has turned on one another and old alliances are broken. Not only that, but Picard is nowhere to be found. In fact, everything that makes Star Trek what it is, is sorely missing. The only thing that makes this game Star Trek is the ships/factions in it.

As the title implies, it’s all about conquest. This is something the Federation would never stoop to. You command fleets of ships, moving them to different star systems and wiping out all life found there, only to build starbases, mining colonies, research facilities, etc.

Battles can either be done in arcade mode, where you actually steer individual ships and control where they fire and when (this is extremely difficult and frustrating to do) or you can take a more tactical approach by viewing all the units in the system as icons, selecting only to put power to shields, weapons, retreat, or leave the sim to play out on its own with no intervention. So battles are really never about how skilled you are at commanding. It’s all about whether you outnumber the enemy. Once a battle is won, you take control of the system and can build, fortify, and so forth. It’s real-time strategy without the real-time or strategy parts.

Another downside to the battles are the sad and repetitive battle cries you’ll hear. As the Federation, your crew will erratically yell asinine war cries like “this one’s for Earth!” which only goes to show that Starfleet has sadly reduced their standards for what qualifies as a passing grade.

So is the game bad? Yes. It is very bad. But somehow I am still compelled to play. Perhaps it’s the joy of seeing a representation of the Enterprise D flying around the screen, or perhaps I am, on a subliminal level, accepting this as a kind of “what if” for the series.

Star Trek and Star Wars fans have often come to nasty words when debating what is the better science fiction space story. I grew up loving Star Wars (I have over 400 action figures, plus tons of other merch) but I also love Star Trek. It would be hard to choose one over the other (okay, I’m just being diplomatic now) but one thing is for certain, and anyone can see that: At least Star Wars has better games.

Whoever greenlit this game needs a kick in the crotch. If Gene Roddenberry wasn’t rolling in his grave from Star Trek: Voyager, he certainly must be now.

Score Breakdown:

Graphics: 8
Sound: 5
Control: 2
Fun: 0
Replay Value: 0

OVERALL SCORE: 0/10

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    2 responses so far:
  2. Posted on Dec 13, 2007

    Ouch. Once bitten, twice shy. After playing Star Trek Legacy (and even getting an Xbox 360 controller for the PC to give it the benefit of the doubt) I have learned that while Bethesda makes awesome role-playing games, they really have no business in being the publisher of the Star Trek franchise.

    There have only been two great Star Trek games, the old PC Adventure game from 1996 “Look a Window in that Rock,” and the early 90s Gameboy title (dear god Romulan Warbirds are hard to destroy).

    I’m guessing the next great one will come only once we have real life Holodeck technology…

  3. Posted on Dec 13, 2007

    Good call on that Gameboy title. It can be had at most used game stores for under five bucks (a real bargain). I think I might need to go home and play it to wash the shame from my face.

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