E3 2002: Elite Force II impressions

The Voyager hazard team's adventures in the alpha quadrant are on display at E3.


Star Trek Elite Force is one in a series of games that proved that Star Trek games didn't have to be just for fans of the series. At E3, Activision is showing off the sequel that's in development at Ritual. Elite Force II extends the sort of tightly scripted, story-based single-player gameplay that made the original game's missions so memorable, but the game is one-and-a-half times the size of the original to address the common criticism that the first game felt too short.

Although you certainly don't have to be a Star Trek fan to appreciate the game's action and alien settings, its story seems to have plenty to offer, developing on the last episode of Star Trek: Voyager. The game starts out with you playing through the events leading up to the destruction of a borg cube heading to Earth, but it then follows the Voyager hazard team after the ship's long-awaited return home. After a series of missions on the lush grounds of Starfleet Command headquarters, you'll join the Enterprise and work directly with the most famous captain of the recent series, Jean-Luc Picard. Activision has secured actor Patrick Stewart to do the voice work for his character, and he's said to have not just a cameo, but a big role. To further enhance the game's storytelling, there are even more in-game cinematics than before to seamlessly link scenes together. When the hazard team goes on an away mission, you're not magically transported from the briefing to the mission area, but rather briefly see the shuttle bay, the flight down, and the team members exiting the shuttle on the planet surface.

There's naturally plenty of combat in the game. You'll encounter two races that are new to the Star Trek universe, as well as what the developers call a "nightmarish race of creatures." In addition to these very alien-looking monsters, there are plenty of more-familiar enemies. The game's selection of 13 weapons includes many that are revisions of the previous game's, but also a few new ones, including melee weapons. The tricorder has a more interesting role now, playing into some puzzle elements. In one sequence we saw, you have to do a reading on a structure with the tricorder to find a weak point to break through.

In addition to battles with lots of creatures at once, there are more boss battles in Elite Force II. We had a chance to see one from the early borg missions, when you encounter an advanced combat drone. The drone was massive for a borg, standing nearly twice as tall as Munroe, the game's protagonist. The developers have worked to vary the boss battles more, giving them multiple weapons and abilities to switch things up.

Plenty of refinements have been made to the series for Elite Force II, and the graphics look somewhat more detailed than in the first game. The game's been in development since last fall, and the developers expect to have it done early next year.

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