Activision stopped by the GameSpot offices this afternoon with the latest build of Lawrence Holland's Star Trek: Bridge Commander. The game, a 3D starship simulator in which players assume command of a Federation Galaxy-class ship, is now in its 11th month of development at Totally Games, and has shown significant improvement since we saw it last at E3.
Bridge Commander is being designed to capture the essence of the Star Trek: The Next Generation TV show. According to Holland, the game is supposed to give players the feeling of having a powerful ship and skilled crew at their command. Players will initially captain a Galaxy-class ship, and then progress to the more powerful Sovereign-class capital ship. Unlike other Star Trek starship simulators, Bridge Commander is geared towards Star Trek fans who might not necessarily be core gamers.
The game's mouse-driven interface is very clean and intuitive, and has the same layout as the Federation control panels seen on the TV show, thus making it instantly familiar to fans of the series. For seasoned gaming veterans, Bridge Commander has a tactical mode that, once activated, switches the perspective to outside of the ship, and gives players more control over navigation, weapons, shields, and so forth. Players won't have to switch to this tactical view at all throughout the game, but doing so has its advantages.
Unlike Holland's and Totally Game's prior work on the X-Wing and TIE Fighter games, Bridge Commander's battles follow the slower pace of capital ship battles. Holland equates the face-offs between this game's starships to a heavyweight-boxing match, where the majority of the fight consists of maneuvering for position. As is to be expected, Bridge Commander features a completely new 3D engine that boasts some impressive visual technology. In the default view, the entire bridge of your starship is completely modeled in 3D, as is the entire crew. Its environment is affected by dynamic lighting - a great effect when switching to auxiliary power or going to red alert. When the ship takes damage, parts of the bridge will break apart, consoles will overload, and people will get thrown from their seats. Additionally, all the ships have dynamic damage model, meaning that their 3D models will be deformed to reflect the precise area of attack and the extent of the damage. This means that gamers will finally be able to blow holes through the hulls of other ships using torpedoes and phaser blasts.
Star Trek: Bridge Commander is scheduled for release in Q2 2001. To tide you over until then, take a look at the latest batch of screenshots from the game.