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In the year 2000 a 3D action game Star Trek: Voyager Elite Force got onto the counters of stores, which meant the first appearance (at which it has sticked so far) for the crew of the starship USS Voyager. What is more important for us right now, is the fact that this game introduced an elite away team of Starfleet fittingly called the Hazard Team. The sequel that will show up under the shortened name Star Trek: Elite Force 2, is being prepared for some time by the Ritual Entertainment development team that created a whole line of successful titles from which we have to name Heavy Metal FAKK2 and SiN at least. This of course is not a newie for you and also the following lines shouldn’t surprise and shock you with something new. I will only try to state here all as of yet known facts about this sequel.
The story of Elite Force 2 begins where the television wandering of the starship Voyager ended. You surely remember the thrilling finale in which captain Janeway with admiral Janeway beat the Borg and Voyager gets back home to the Alpha quadrant through their transwarp tunnel. If we leave aside the unsolveable question „If Voyager got home earlier and nothing happened to anybody from the crew and hence Janeway had not returned back in time to help Voyager to get home earlier so how could they got home earlier?“, we have left to resolve the issue of how Voyager behaved in the combat with pursuant Borg Sphere. In the series we saw just a big BANG, from which Voyager flew out and it was over. Exactly in this somewhat dark place our story begins. Voyager is imprisoned in the Sphere and their only hope for the second and the last time is the Hazard Team led by our familiar Alexander Munro. His charming counterpart represented by Alexandria Munro will unfortunately not freshen the sequel. After resolution of the confounded Borg situation the Voyager crew - after the appropriate promotions - scatters for their new assignments. For Munro it is the place of a teacher at the Starfleet Academy. It’s right there where he catches the attention of no one lesser than captain Jean-Luc Picard (again performed by Patrick Stewart) that will arrange for a redeployment for Munro and his whole group to the flagship of the United Federation of Planets USS Enterprise-E. As it happens, soon after this the Enterprise picks up a distress call from another Federation ship that has been attacked by unknown aliens. According to the interstellar law the Enterprise sets out for a mission whose objectives are to expose the transgressors of this attack and their reasons. According to the words of authors the new story should be more varied and extensive than in the first game. It was created by the collective forces of Ritual and Activision and the dialogues together with refining the story was entrusted to Daniel Greenberg who wrote several Star Trek novels and also has got certain experience with computer games, since he contributed to the production of titles such as Star Trek: Starfleet Academy and Vampire: The Masquerade – Redemption. You should be also pleased by the fact that certain decisions of yours will influence how the game will work out in the end.
First we will examine the old-new Hazard Team. As I have already stated it is still led by Alexander Munro that has fetched along Telsia Murphy (infiltration/sniper) to the new adventure – we should even experience a resumption of the insinuation of their possible relation from one of ingame animations in the first episode – further on there will also appear Austin Chang (demolition), Bolian Chell (technician) and medical lab technician Juliet Jurot. The team was for ever abandoned by Les Foster (after a tiny collision with the Borg in the first adventure) and Kendrick (Rick) Biessman (after a tiny collision with the shot). These old friends will be supplemented by the trio of new faces. Biessman will be replaced by Klingon warrior Korban that Munro met during his teachership and that will take care of heavy weapons. In new missions the espionage Gonzales will definitely not fall away, and so that the team could even get to some action they will have to use services of blond Sydney many times – freshly graduated pilot from the Starfleet Academy. If the Beta team will also make an appereance in Elite Force 2 is not clear, but there has not been a single remark anywhere and when you sift through how many times you have seen members of the Beta team doing anything else than playing at cards, you could even think that you will get along without them pretty good this time as well. The authors accentuate diverse personalities of particular elite team members and also their mutual relations among them. Thus, the characters will develop in dependence on new circumstances and we won’t miss the optional chance of interaction with the crew in short sequences between separate action landings as well. Bigger emphasis is also placed on real cooperation with the team members during away missions. All characters should be glorified thanks to the higher polygon count and higher resolution textures. Nothing will stop characters from various grining and the usage of sundry grimaces.
The core of the game is of course comprised of the away missions of the Hazard Team so let’s have a look at them. The story will introduce us into twelve different environments – from interiors to extensive exteriors with every mission divided up to seven sub-levels. As it results from the very story we will begin our action pilgrimage among the Borg once again (although they were only simulated in the first episode). The game is running under the Quake 3: Team Arena engine that is besides enhanced with Ritual’s own tools, so called UberTools. On the first glance you will notice refined environment and higher details – the drones are working on the floors above and under you and the whole Sphere around you lives with its own „normal“ life. During your way the well-known Borg force fields and more or less numerous groups of narky drones wait for you. The new element in the sequel are the final bosses. The first one is a huge Borg drone that you have to finish off to be able to get back to Voyager. Battles with the final bosses take place in special isolated arenas similarly to the duel with Vorsoth at the end of the first game. About other environments already only in a briefer way. We will visit the Starfleet Academy, several starships and space installations and alien planets. We won’t avoid barren desert, swampy environment, caves, alien cities, Romulan station located on the distant icy planet and horrifying hellish realm. We will also fight in the zero gravity on the ship’s hull. Definitely there is much to look forward to, since among the level designers there are also the Levelord and Benson Russell (guy who created the great Omaha Beach mission in the Medal of Honor: Allied Assault).
What a 3D action game it would be, if there were no weapons, right? Elite Force 2 offers us exactly twelve of them, among which we will find old familiar ones that were improved in the visual aspect as well as wholly new weapons. All of them have primary and secondary firing modes and we will walk through them one after another. For the beginning and as the weapon of the last resort there is always some smaller gun given. In this game it is represented by the standard Federation hand phaser – rechargeable weapon whose primary mode fires weaker phaser beam that will of course not burden the battery in contrast to the secondary mode that is indeed more effective but energically more demanding at the same time. After phaser, the already well-known Federation compression rifle follows with the secondary zoom function. Next in order is a special anti-Borg weapon I-Mod (aka Infinity Modulator) that Seven of Nine designed and constructed against her former colleagues so that it constantly changes the frequence of its shots and the Borg cannot adapt to it. Primary mode is again weaker but more economical and the stronger secondary mode consumes more energy. Among new weapons belongs the Federation assualt rifle which in principle is a phaser rifle with a high cadence equipped secondarily with plasma grenade launcher. A multiple-function grenade launcher from which you can fire various types of charges – each with different properties (e.g. fragmentation grenades) will certainly find its utilization. For lovers of heavy weapons the portable rocket launcher firing smaller versions of ship’s photon torpedoes is destined. It is also possible that it will be plausible to fire guidable rockets from the rocket launcher. You just simply fire a rocket and then guide it with your mouse until you hit something or someone. New weapons are further represented by the Attrexian rifle that in its primary mode fires electrical discharge and as a secondary attack blows off the cloud of gas that in itself doesn’t belong to the most destructive, thanks to interesting combo function though you can fire an electrical discharge into this gas cloud that will bring about devastating effect for the enemy. Because Romulans will blend in this game in no small measure, the two following weapons pertain just into their arsenal. The first one is a standard Romulan disruptor that surely doesn’t need to be introduced in any special way. The second one thereafter is an experimental Romulan rifle that fires radioactive material. This doesn’t cause harm at once but continuously. It will stick on surfaces and characters and destroy them with time. And furthermore, this will also influence with radiation other enemies in excessive proximity to the initial target. When you „irridates“ a wall in this way and then a monster comes along, it will taint itself and could even transfer the radiation do other enemies. Because Elite Force 2 takes place after the new motion picture Star Trek: Nemesis that as you certainly know revolves around Romulans and according to the information that several weapons from the game show up right in this movie for the first time, it would be able to decide that this experimental rifle is one of them. From the first game a really dynamic tetryon pulse disruptor requisitioned from the Hirogen preserves as well. Among two melee weapons belong the Klingon Bat’leth and a mysterious energetic staff with which you can once again combine the primary and secondary firing modes. With secondary button you will send out a shock wave that will throw down everything it encounters in stasis and then you can use the primary attack with which you will kill temporarily harmless enemies.
When you have weapons, team that will use them and the environment in which you will move, you still need some enemies. Thanks to the shift to the home Alpha quadrant we will meet our old fellows again. Except already several times mentioned Borg, the Andorians, Klingons, Romulans, Vulcans and two new races from the edge of the Galaxy wait for us. The first new race is called the Attrexians and the second one is described as a horrifying race of monsters. How else would you describe bloodthirsty lizard-like creatures with long tails and sharp blades in place of hands, eh? We will meet them not only on the Attrexian planet where our mission will be to stop their invasion whose goal is the complete devastation of the planet.
Already in the Expansion Pack to the original Elite Force the tricorder made an appereance, but his functionality was highly limited. It will play much bigger role in the second game. It will no longer serve only for the scanning of environment, but we will be able to use it also for turning off the force fields, hacking into the consoles and operating the computer systems. Tricorder also displays the map, shows harmful environment and positions of otherwise hardly detectable enemies. It can also help us to detect secret areas to which we can then get either by shooting the wall or placing an explosive on the right spot. The tricorder is also interconnected with a small LED display that members of the Hazard Team have got in front of one eye and that can display several useful visual modes, such as the night vision mode or the structural integrity mode – so we can examine a locking mechanism of a door or scan a warp core while searching for fractures. Another function of the tricorder is the „torpedo strike mode“ thanks to which you can in certain moment call in a torpedo attack from the ship orbiting the planet on which you are currently on the away mission.
Not only with a single player game a human draws his breath so again we can look forward to the popular multiplayer tilt. Majority of multiplayer modes from the first game (and particularly from the datadisc) made it to the sequel, so we will be able to choose from classic deathmatch or capture the flag. Above this of course several new modes arrive in. A mild modification of the datadisc mode based on particular classes is a game based on special properties of characters. A special mode is also waiting for the Klingon Bat’leth and I think that everyone from us can imagine how it will look like. Among other multiplayer games belongs a mode in which one team has to prevent the warp core breach and the second one tries to stop them (self-murderers). Another mode called „Protect the Admiral“ will also be very interesting – there is nothing to be add here. We will experience one level taking place onboard starship Enterprise-E and reportedly we should be able to play in the engineering of the Enterprise assimilated by the Borg. In several modes points for killing the enemies will be granted to players by means of a system that is balancing various weapons. So for killing an enemy with Bat’leth you will gain more points than in case you would use some „weapon of mass destruction“.
And in fine, a few sentences that didn’t get anywhere else. In the game we should meet together with the above mentioned Patrick Stewart with several other actors both from Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: The Next Generation series. Further information haven’t been published yet. If you stand on the details, it will surely soothe you that the interiors of Enterprise-E are created in agreement with Paramount’s original blue prints so that everything is in its place. Sound master Zak Belica has the complete Trek sounds archive at his disposal so we'll enjoy realistic peep of consoles and other sounds so well-known from the series and motion pictures. One of things that were criticised in the first game, was the length, respectively the shortness of it. Because perhaps everybody agreed on this the authors assume that the sequel will be 1,5x to 2x longer than the first game. As far as the release date is concerned no concluding words have been made so far, but the release of the full version is set to sometimes in the first quadrant of 2003. Playable demoversion could appear before but also only after the release of the complete game. Let’s hope we will not have to wait too long and that we will live to see a thrilling 3D action first-class in all aspects.