The new issue of Game Informer came in the mail yesterday, and inside was a one-page preview on this fall’s new Star Trek game, Legacy, for the PC and the XBox 360 coming from Bethesda Softworks. This isn’t the first preview Game Informer has done–several months ago they published a cover article on the game. The game’s release has slipped, though, from September (at the time of their first preview) to closer to Christmas, and that warranted a second look at Star Trek: Legacy.
The new article describes the game’s historical campaign structure–fifteen Federation missions, five each from the Star Trek: Enterprise, original Star Trek, and Star Trek: The Next Generation eras–and the multiplayer skirmish mode in which players will be able to play as the Klingons and Romulans in addition to the Federation.
In some ways this seems like a step back from the first two Starfleet Command games where players could play as any of six or eight galactic powers in both campaign and skirmish modes. Being locked in to a single campaign does seem limiting, as do the stripped down controls for the XBox 360 controller. Yet, the screenshots of the game are nothing short of spectacular. Can graphics sell the game? For Star Trek ship nerds, maybe. 😉
Yet, one way in which Legacy outshines Starfleet Command is in the voice talent. For the first two Starfleet Command games you had Captain Sulu, voiced by George Takei himself, as your guide, and in Starfleet Command III Patrick Stewart returned to voice Jean-Luc Picard. Legacy adds Scott Bakula’s Jonathan Archer and William Shatner’s James Tiberius Kirk to Stewart’s Picard. I’ve also heard that Avery Brooks and Kate Mulgrew will be reprising their roles of Ben Sisko and Kathryn Janeway, though three captains in five missions might be overkill. (I’ve not heard if Takei will be reprising Sulu, however.)
Some Star Trek fans might argue that Legacy isn’t a good Star Trek game–except for rare occasions such as Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Deep Space Nine‘s final two seasons Star Trek hasn’t been about space combat and blowing things up. Where’s the sense of adventure, where’s the sense of discovery, where’s the revelation of what it means to be human in Star Trek: Legacy? Such a criticism is not unwarranted, but it also misses a valuable point–that what makes Star Trek work in one medium, such as television or film, won’t necessarily translate into another medium. Star Trek might be suited to an adventure game format, but the market for that isn’t really there. On the other hand, Star Trek lends itself to the space shooter genre because (1) Star Trek has cool spaceships, and (2) Star Trek is marketable within that genre. (For what it’s worth Star Wars could do something similar. Why LucasArts hasn’t produced a Star Wars game along the lines of Starfleet Command or Star Trek: Legacy remains a question without an answer.)
Will Legacy be a game worth getting? That all depends on what you, as a fan, want out of a Star Trek game. It’s a game I’m going to get–because I’m a little bit of a ship nerd and because I like blowing things up. If you’re a Star Trek fan for whom neither of those conditions applies, then perhaps Legacy will not be the game for you when it releases this coming Christmas season.