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     " Kirk... What a man among men. I was surprised that he got so broken up over his son dying in the movies, I mean, how many illegitimate other children must this guy have? What? Oh yeah the game...It was pretty good. "

   Title: Star Trek- Armada by Activision

   Format: PC- Real Time Strategy

   Reviewing Monkey: Monkeymus Prime

   The Hype: Destroy, bombard, board, build, or assimilate ships to battle your enemies. Over 30 special weapons and four distinct races. A true 3D engine showcases the cinematic action of your 30+ starships.
   Now, Iíll just come out and say it right now and get it out of the way. Iím not a big Trek fan. All the new series were just too preachy. I thought the old show was pretty cool; lots of action, the triumph of the human spirit, the good-natured bickering. And that future-day Bacchus, Kirk, what a man among men. I was surprised that he got so broken up over his son dying in the movies, I mean, how many illegitimate other children must this guy have? What? Oh yeah the game. It was pretty good.

      What This Monkey Thought...

   Graphics: The Star Trek universe really comes alive in this game. The ships swoop about majestically, banking and firing their weapons in a smoothness you just donít see in most strategy games. Unlike most RTS games, the units donít just stand and pound each other (although you can activate that feature, to make grabbing units easierÖ boy, did that sound dirty). Instead, they weave around and dogfight each other, making each battle one to watch and enjoy. Only the Borg ships tend to stand still, which adds to the drama as other ships dart around the Borg vessels, trying to score the killing blow on the mighty ships trying to assimilate them. 5 out of 5

   Sound: Again, the Star Trek universe seems to blaze out of your speakers in Armada. All the sound effects are lifted from the series and/or movies. From the phasers, to the button presses on the screen interface, all are recognizable as Star Trek. And the game has voice-overs from Patrick Stewart (Picard), Michael Dorn (Worf), and Denise Crosby (Sela, she was also Tasha Yar on Next Generation). Having the actual voices with new dialogue is just the icing on the cake, as it puts names you recognize under your command. 5 out of 5

   Game Play: No new developments in RTS gaming here. You still collect resources to build stuff, upgrade the stuff you have, right click to attack/move, all the familiar stuff. Two things set this apart from being a Star Trek theme clone. The first is the ability to decommission ships and stations you to reclaim the resources you put into them. You can also do this with ships you capture from the enemy, to help you build new ships of your own, and take away the resources he put into building them.
    The second is the cinematic window. This is a little window that shows important things that are happening in your view with dramatic camera angles. It also seems to have levels of preference. If any battles are occurring, it shows those above all else, depicting your forces doing battle, ships exploding, phasers firing. If nothing else is going on, it will skip around, showing things under construction, mining of resources, various ships, etc. The great thing about this window is that by clicking it, you are automatically sent to where the image depicts. If a fight breaks out, you can keep an eye on it in the window, and if it looks like you need to directly control it, you can just click on the window and instantly be there! So handy! 4 out of 5

   Level and Environment Designs: Just the usual maps here. Obstacles are nebulas (some of which help, others are lethal), asteroids and wormholes. 3 out of 5

   Multiplayer: Like the levels, nothing spiffy here. You can really customize a multiplayer game, though. Lots of different options are supposed to replace the lack of a map editor, I guess. 3 out of 5

   Replayability: Thereís really no reason to play the single player again after you beat it, except way down the line when youíve forgotten about it. The big thing is the Multiplayer. 2 out of 5

   Story/Dramatics: The game plays like a multi-part episode, following the trials and tribulations of the heroes of the various races as they try to either save their species from assimilation by the Borg, or achieve total dominance. The last four missions deal with all of the races coming together to defeat the Borg threat. A special treat. 5 out of 5

   Instructions and Learning Curve: The instructions are very descriptive, and has lots of pictures and screenshots to show you what theyíre talking about. Unfortunately, theyíre all in black and white, otherwise this wouldíve probably scored a 5. Easily one of the best booklets Iíve seen in a while.
    The game starts you off nice and easy, but is sadly rather short. Only four missions for each of four races (plus the aforementioned four combined race missions at the end) barely gets you comfortable with ships and tactics before you move on. Happily the game at no point completely abuses you for your inexperience, and if you have to retreat from a battle, you were obviously unprepared (scouting helps!) or are French. 4 out of 5

   The Verdict:

       A nearly perfect RTS, but could have easily been perfect with just a few tweaks or new things. Also, it seemed to crash back to windows a lot on my machine, and Iíve read that Armada is a pretty buggy game, but a guy I work with says heís never had any problems with it. Go figure.

   The Good: Rockiní graphics and sound, excellent story line, immersion even to non-Trek fans

   The Bad: Levels are mostly more of the same, and a level editor wouldíve been nice, also the crashing problem sucks

   The Overall Ugly: A good RTS game, and one thatís fun to play and even fun to watch. Beware of crashes and lock ups, but I understand the patch lessens these somewhat.

   What it's Worth: $44.99

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