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Star Trek | Elite Force II | review | game | Lollipop
Star Trek: Elite Force II
(Activision for PC)
by Eric Johnson
Utopian visions of the future and first-person shooters are not generally concepts that go hand-in-hand. Then again, cinnamon and ground beef are rarely combined either, and much of the reason why the majority of popular science fiction depicts dystopian futures has a lot to do with the fact that conflict is integral to storytelling. So it's no surprise that Gene Rodenberry's vision of a humanity that has outgrown it's petty 20th century taste for destruction, prejudice, and conquest has been used as the setting for two rock-solid installments of small arms mayhem.
Since its 2000 predecessor already proved that a first-person shooter set in the Star Trek universe can bear excellent fruit, it's no shock that Elite Force II is a very good game. One that seamlessly integrates the intense firefights of a traditional meat'n'potatoes run'n'gun sci-fi action shooter with the look, feel, character development, and plot of a good two-part episode. The Enterprise and a hazard team resurrected by the great Picard himself set out on a collision course with a hostile insect-like alien race. The twisting plot also involves fighting for and sometimes against a downtrodden humanoid alien race in a thinly veiled, classically Star Trek, tale of interspecies egalitarianism. Almost, but not quite, as much time will be spent poking around with your handy tricorder as you do firing a compression rifle, but there's enough plot, diplomacy, pseudo-scientific exploration, and kick-ass firefights to please series fans as well as outsiders. "Leave them wanting more" may be a great maxim for food and humor, but video games cost fifty bucks, so the bigger the portion, the better. Thankfully, Elite Force II is a rather long game. It's also remarkably pretty, showcasing how well the Quake 3 engine is aging, even without botox. Unfortunately, enemy AI is unimpressive, but you won't be complaining about stupid bad guys for long. In fact, the numerous defensive stand-offs are tough enough so that in time, your respect will be earned.
While not revolutionary, Elite Force II manages to be remarkably fresh, challenging, and strangely comfortable, much like the carpeted starships the franchise takes place in. It combines the optimistic world view of its creator with blazing firefights. I assure you, the great bird of the galaxy is not rolling over in his grave over this one.