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Review by: Matt Plumb
Published: September 20, 2000
Star Trek and computer gaming have always gone hand in hand; one of the earliest computer games was an ASCII character based epic in which players took command of the Enterprise. Despite its simple appearance, it was great fun, and guiding the Enterprise through fields of “*”s and destroying “K”s — Klingon vessels — was surprisingly addictive. From these humble beginnings, the Star Trek game franchise has expanded into almost every genre imaginable, with varying degrees of success. The anemic Klingon Honor Guard as well as the spectacular Voyager: Elite Force have demonstrated that the Star Trek license guarantees neither automatic success nor inevitable failure. Interplay’s Star Trek: New Worlds is a recent addition to the venerable series, a real-time strategy offering far removed from the usual interstellar trappings of the Star Trek universe.
In the Neutral Zone, between the territories of the United Federation of Planets, the Klingon Empire, and the Romulan Star Empire, a Romulan weapons test, codenamed “Shiva,” goes awry. When a Klingon vessel accidentally detonates the Shiva device, it opens a rift in space-time, pulling new planets and star systems into our space from a parallel universe. One of these anomalous systems, referred to as the Tabula Rasa system, is rich in the raw materials needed by all three powers. The system falls under contention, each empire staking a claim, and players are tasked with protecting the interests of the Federation, Klingons, or Romulans. Unbeknownst to the three major races, the Tabula Rasa planets have indigenous races with plans of their own.
New Worlds contains three single-player campaigns, one for each playable race, which chronicle the exploration of the Tabula Rasa system. While all of the campaigns have some missions in common, specific objectives are dependant on the race that players select. For example, as the Klingons, you may have to retake a captured base; while as the Romulans, you may have to attempt to destroy the same facility. The sixteen missions that make up each campaign take players to many planets in the Tabula Rasa system, all with their own unique terrains, dangers, and mysteries. Each mission has multiple victory conditions, all detailed in a comprehensive briefing beforehand. In the first Federation operation, you must not only expand your base by building various structures, but also perform an engineering scan on an alien temple, as well as send a medical team to investigate an alien plague. The number of objectives and missions make playing through each campaign a long, involved process.
The contested resources at the heart of New Worlds are plentiful in the Tabula Rasa system. There are six different raw materials: Raw Dilithium, Talgonite, Silicon, Kelbonite, Magnesite Ore, and Dolamide, all of which must be harvested in standard RTS fashion, namely, constructing a mining station on a deposit and building cargo drones to transport the mined materials. Once the raw ore is returned to the colony, it is refined into processed materials: Dilithium, Polycomposite, Thermoconcrete, Transparent Aluminum, Nitrium, and Duranium with the aid of a resource processing facility. The processed materials can then be used to build structures and vehicles. Players can also upgrade the resource processor with a different “wing” for each raw material; each wing speeds up the rate at which a certain material is processed. The collection and distribution of these resources, as in many RTS games, is an important part of managing the colony.
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