When Star Trek beamed itself aboard the Gamer shuttle craft I undertook a solen oath, along with other red jerseys among us, not to indulge in any Trekky-type rhetoric. But, not five words into the opening stanza and look, Star Trek-type utterances are splattered across the page like so many Klingons after a run in with James T Kirk. The point is dear reader, that love it or hate it, Star Trek is one of the most infamous programmes ever to grace the tube of a TV set.
To celebrate this much maligned fact at to say happy 25th birthday to all the crew, Interplay have released Star Trek 25th Anniversary. While not the most imaginative title to be dreamed up by the marketing departments, it is very direct and leaves you in no doubt at all what it's on about.
The first and probably most important thing to say is that all the stories and missions in Star Trek feature the crew in their prime back in the heady 60s. Most folk quite enjoy the special effects that technology has heralded and agree the all-new Enterprise is kitted out with far better equipment and decorated far more tastefully, but 25 years in space have left the crew a tad haggard and worn.
No amount of techno wizardry or plenitude or surgical trusses can reduce the paunch poor Scotty has developed, or the look in his eye that says that death is but a dilithium crystal away for the chief engineer. Sulu has completely lost his ninja skills and no longer strips to the waist after turning psychotic at the Enterprise parties. McCoy pawned his medical kit because the bags under his eyes are so huge he can keep his Tricorder in them. Uhura is now a grandmother and can't hear a thing that crackled across the radio waves of space, while Soviet representative for the federation Chekov has a speech impediment so severe that can't tell his "yessels" from his "yodka".
Even the big cheese himself, James T, has had severe problems, and during a freak transporter accident had his hair replaced by a strip of shag pile carpet. As for poor Spock, the pioneer of the combed forward hairdo, he's developed a personality, took on a day job on Mission Impossible, saved up his money, and bought himself a set of paranoiac sexual characteristics and now ages at the same rate as a human.
Star Trek begins in much the same manner as the TV show, with the Enterprise whizzing past you, while the music we're all accustomed to bounces merrily along. Then, to make things even more akin to Gene Roddenberry's creation, you get the title of the episode, or mission.
Once on the bridge of the Enterprise, the game unfolds and control of the main characters becomes yours. On the bridge each of these characters has specific tasks to perform. Each of these corresponds to the role the character took on in the show itself. For example, Sulu is responsible for taking the Enterprise in and out of orbit, whereas his counterpart Ensign Chekov controls the navigation and the weapons systems.
However, when it comes to control of the aforementioned systems it's you who guides them and fires those lethal phasers and photon torpedoes.
The ship itself has all the systems that you'd expect of the Enterprise for you to take care of, and these are all displayed on the bridge display. It's the pessimistic Scotty who takes control of the shields and power, and when the ship's engines get stressed he'll gleefully scream "the engines canna take it cap'n!" in a Scotch Canadian accent.
Principally, you take on the role of Kirk who orders the other crew members to perform tasks on his behalf. For instance, if an object requires looking at, then via your instruction, Kirk will instruct the relevant crew member carry out your command.
As far as the missions are concerned, there are eight of them in total. They blend in a combination of control of the Enterprise to a planet or an hostile region of space with beaming down a crew to the surface to investigate a mystery. Using the mouse for control, Star Trek styles its play in much the same was as Monkey Island, with you given various options of what to say to a said character.
Again, like so many things in Star Trek, its graphical look is very much in the same vein as titles like Monkey Island. Obviously, this isn't a bad thing and the game's design is effective.
In the sound department, Star Trek is authentic enough and all the clicky noises and whoops that occur during the show have been sampled and used.
Star Trek has a lot of plus points to it. The missions require you to use at least a touch of your grey matter, and they're engaging and fun because of the TV show style of representation Interplay has opted for. On the downside, I found that some of the animated sequences were very jerky and quite embarrassing to watch. One example is a digitised animation of the Enterprise orbiting a planet. This is so jerky the first time I witnessed it I was going to ask Scotty to stop at the next services and have a look under the bonnet.
The other main gripe is the control system. Something that is a very user friendly and easy to become familiar with is ruined by the terrible display and sluggish way in which your mouse pointer staggers around the screen. While we're on this destruction of the Enterprise and her beloved crew, I might as well mention the fact that the game comes on eight disks. This have been said, it's a big game, and "you conna change the law of physics". So, you're going to need a black hole full of patience or a hard drive to enjoy playing Star Trek.
On the whole though, Star Trek is an enjoyable graphic adventure that most folk will take to, and a definite must for the myriad of Trekky freaks in red jerseys out there.