Developed by Totally Games
Published by Activision
Available Q3 2001
Though best known for their Star Wars simulations, designer Larry Holland and his development team at Totally Games are hard at work on Star Trek Bridge Commander, a new entry in the vast Star Trek PC game library that promises to build and improve upon previous Star Trek games. In it, you will assume the role of a first officer who takes control of a Starfleet starship after a mysterious new weapon destroys a sun, along with the original captain's shuttle. In command of your new ship, you must find out who's constructed the new weapon before any more damage can be done. The game promises to give you full control of the vessel in order to get to the bottom of the mystery.
As the game's title suggests, you will be able to control your ship in one of two ways: from the bridge or directly in the tactical mode. The two modes are actually quite distinct from each other, as the bridge mode uses a much more hands-off approach, whereas the tactical mode is much more action-oriented. In the bridge mode, you basically sit in the captain's chair and give orders to crewmembers in the area. For example, if you want to go to a specific area in the galaxy, you simply give the order to the helmsman, and a few seconds later you're in warp. During battle, you can order your tactical officer to perform a number of different actions with the ship, such as evasive maneuvers, or you can specify how many torpedoes you want in a spread. Even the chief engineer occasionally makes stops on the bridge, and you can order him to make repairs to specific areas of your ship or adjust power to various systems. In some missions, you'll talk to your science officer to learn more information about ships or areas of unexplored space.
Unfortunately, Totally Games decided to scrap Bridge Commander's multiplayer features so that the developers could focus on making an engaging single-player experience. The single-player mode already looks polished, and it appears that only a few cosmetic changes need to be made before the game's final release. Even so, it remains to be seen how the whole game will fit together, and whether Totally Games can re-create its successes with its Star Wars games within the Star Trek universe.
In the tactical mode, Bridge Commander changes into a game that's somewhat similar to Starfleet Command in that you control the ship and all its other functions yourself. All your ship's systems are located onscreen, so you can adjust power levels, set repair priorities, and manage weapons without leaving the tactical mode. This is helpful, especially during combat because you don't want to worry about switching between the two modes while being pounded by enemy fire.
Bridge Commander is similar to Starfleet Command in many respects, but whereas Starfleet Command catered mainly to hard-core Star Trek fans, Bridge Commander makes an effort to appeal to a much wider audience in its bridge mode. Of further note, Bridge Commander was not only one of the best-looking games at E3, but it's also the best-looking Star Trek game to date, on account of its detailed ship models and generous use of impressive special effects.