Star Trek: Elite Force 2

Review

posted 7/1/2003 by John Yan
other articles by John Yan
One of the better Star Trek games of recent past was Elite Force. The first person shooter wasn’t trying to push the boundaries of the genre but to offer a nice action packed Star Trek game. Warp ahead a few years later and now we have Elite Force 2 and the return of the Hazard Team.

You, as Captain Alex Munro, lead an elite team sent in when the action’s too dangerous for Captain Picard. While the original game took place on the Voyager, the new one has you on board the Enterprise. Only Picard from Next Generation and Tuvok from Voyager lend their voice to the game. Reginald Barclay is in the game, but I couldn’t recognize if it’s the same actor’s voice. The game does start on the Voyager though as you free the Voyager from the Borg’s clutches and then have the team broken up as a big thank you from Starfleet. The main game takes place several years later as the Hazard Team is reassembled for duty.

Still using the Quake 3 engine, Elite Force 2 still looks well done. While the engine doesn’t show off anything jaw dropping, the Ritual team did a good job designing the Enterprise environments and the other ones you visit as well. As you walk around the ship, you feel like you are traversing the halls of the Enterprise as the architecture accurately recreates the look and feel. The architectural design of the other levels is not bad either. Although if I don’t see another Jefferies tube again it will be too soon. From various planets and environments, Elite Force 2 gives the gamer a nice variety.

The character models are done well from the humans to the unique aliens you will face. One thing I noticed was that the mouths are actually modeled so you’ll see depth inside of them when the characters are talking. This small touch makes for a more realistic talking model. When the characters interact with you their head rotates to wherever you are standing. Nothing new but again another nice little touch to make them more realistic. They also speak with hand motions and gestures and aren’t lifeless computer generated characters. The Attrexian and the Idryll are the two main races you’ll encounter and they come complete with glowing clothes. The Attrexian are the more alien looking race while the Idryll are mostly humanoid with weird eyes and some funky tattoos.

You’ll witness crewmembers conversing or traveling to other parts of the ship so you’ll feel like the ship is inhabited. Some of the conversations offer some more insight on the past or current mission along with the feelings of the crew. You’ll also find one funny take on the Star Wars conversation between Obi Wan, Luke, Han, and Chewbacca at a tavern. I enjoyed the inclusion of NPC and their conversations as it adds some life to the environment.


So, the game looks solid and it’s pretty good at recreating the Star Trek feel. How’s the gameplay? After going through the short single player campaign, I finished feeling that it was a nice compliment to the first game. There are some elements of the game, which I really didn’t enjoy such as the presence, but not too numerous jump puzzles. I mean when did you see a Star Trek episode where Picard had to navigate on top of some objects with timing to reach another area for exploration. If there were these moments they were few and far between. Now I also know why Scottie hated crawling in those Jefferies tubes. There are a few levels where you have to go through them numerous times and I found myself cursing at the thought of having to traverse another one. Thankfully, the jump puzzles aren’t TOO bad but for a Star Trek game I could’ve done without them.

The game usually sets you up by alternating between gathering information on the Enterprise and some exploration/attack mission. I found the mix of the two to be quite enjoyable giving me some time to wind down after a hard fought mission and then gearing up to go again. There’s a mission where you defend the Enterprise with an external gun and one that also recreates the outside attack of the Enterprise like the one in Star Trek: First Contact only the Borg aren’t involved this time. Certain missions also incur a time limit and making sure a certain character is defended. They add a little urgency to the game but I didn’t find them too difficult to get through. There are even some parts where you are given choices as to which direction or what dialogue to say. The variety of missions is pretty good giving me something more than run and gun.

Elite Force 2 makes you use the tricorder many times to solve various puzzles. Some areas reveal two mini-games, while not challenging, does offer a nice little break from the action. They grow increasingly difficult but not to the point where they keep you from easily moving on. Some doors need to be opened my modulating the control panel and you can also scan some objects with it to gain some information.

Your tricorder will also give you various different views such as structurally weak areas and gas emissions. Most of the time a team member will tell you to use a certain one to get past a certain area eliminating the frustrating of dying and having to restart the area. In that sense, Ritual did the right decision in giving you cues on when to use what mode. Secret areas can also be found using the different tricorder modes but no one’s going to tell you when to use it. The excessive use of the tricorder can get on some people’s nerve as a few of my friends have complained about it while some didn’t mind at all.

It’s a good thing that they can tell you when to use a certain tricorder mode because my AI companions’ assault tactics aren’t that great. You think for a Hazard team they’d be better off at eliminating the enemy but I found that I did most of the work and sometimes they would just stand there and take a few hits before firing back. The enemy AI mostly consists of aliens charging at you so there’s not much variety in them. Some of the bosses have some more variety in attacking but there’s nothing in the game that I went through that impressed me in this area.


The game does remind me a lot of an Aliens movie complete with exomorphs busting through walls to try and take my life. In retrospect, they remind me more of the aliens from Starship Troopers. You’ll have a few varieties of aliens charging at you with some having a range attack. The Borg only makes one appearance and that’s in the first mission. After that you are left to deal with exomorphs and two other alien races mostly. You’ll get into a firefight with some Klingons, humans, Idryll, and Romulans but most of the time will be spent bug hunting.

Secrets come in the form of hidden areas where they can contain equipment to little gold starships. As you progress through the game, the amount of gold starships you find will unlock secret levels. Before you exit a level, the game tells you how many secrets are left undiscovered and how many gold starships remain. It does give you a little incentive to search the level more and one secret I found even supplies you with a nice weapon if you take the time to find the hidden area.

Multiplayer consists of Holomatch, Team Holomatch, and Capture the Flag. There are also modifiers, like in Unreal Tournament, to further enhance the multiplayer modes. Elite Force 2 offers a nice variety of multiplayer options and with the solid networking code of the Quake 3 engine, you get some good action. I especially enjoyed Bomb Defusal, where the object of the game is to bomb the other team’s base but you have the ability to defuse it. Elite Force 2 offers one of the better multiplayer packages out there.

In the end, Elite Force 2 is an ok single player game. It’s a nice compliment to the first one and will give Star Trek fans another good game to play with. The graphics aren’t too shabby and the missions aren’t too bad. It certainly does have a better end monster than the first one and you’ll even be caught in a love triangle, sort of. The single player portion is very short as I spent a weekend and finished the game. Multiplayer features are plenty and will give multiplayer gamers a good amount to play with. I wouldn’t mind seeing a third installment using a more advanced engine but with Ritual’s situation, the possibility doesn’t seem good. Then again, Activision could hand off the series to another developer easily enough.





C+
It's nothing extraordinary but Elite Force 2 isn't too shabby. There's some good multiplayer modes but the single player experience is short.