by: MD Weems
; edited by: Michael Hartman
; updated: 4/17/2012
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Want one heck of a challenging game that revolves around your favorite sci-fi show: Star Trek? Well, this one might prove to be a bit too challenging for some.
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Star Trek: Encounters
When it comes to Star Trek, my parents had me hooked a long, long time ago. So, whenever a new ST game comes out - no matter which show it's based off of - I normally am the first gaming nerd on the block to try it out. Well, when I got my hands on this one, Star Trek: Encounters, it turned out to be a love/hate relationship... and I'll show you why here in my review.
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Let's start out with the very best part of this game - the graphics. I mean, these are blow you away, super sweet sci-fi movie style, Star Trek tv show graphics that I fell in love with on the box while I was standing in line to buy it. (I'm putting in some screenshots below this part of the review so that you can see what I'm talking about.) Now, with the graphics comes a part where you have to get used to how the ships move and shoot and all that - which can get confusing and frustrating - but if you are any type of a ST fan, then this won't be as hard as you might think. But, the graphics in general are superb and I love how they managed to make everything as realistic to the movies and television shows as humanly - 'er computer-ly - possible.
So, for this area of the game, it scores a 5 out of 5 from me.
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Images from ST: Encounters
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Game Play: The Good Parts
Now, there are two sides to this part of the review. One good and one bad. So, we'll go through the good parts of the review first and show you why you need this game in your PS2 arsenal.
The good: There are several different ways that you can actually play this game on your PS2. From playing Episodes out to just all out skirmishes with other ships in the area, you can play the way that you are the most comfortable with. I love the fact that you work to unlock your favorite areas of the universe, favorite captains, ships, and more. It gives you something to work for, to strive to beat, and makes the game even more fun.
You do start off with training to get your ship legs and to learn the controls and how to control your ship. (We'll talk about this in a minute though.) After that, you will get to move on to another bigger, faster ship that will have you start off your Starfleet career in style. You will be able to start unlocking ships that you love from movies and television shows, favorite characters through Character Cards, and even more. I love the game play in ST: Encounters as it's always changing and for a true ST fan, you will remember these areas, ships, people, and more.
So, for the good areas of the game play - I give it a 5 out of 5.
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Game Play: The Bad Parts
Ok, the bad part about the game play is that you can't get anywhere else until you have unlocked a mission by beating it. This is normal you say? True, but here's the problem with ST: Encounters - it can be so hard to win some levels that you will actually throw the controller in frustration... I speak from experience here. Even the very first level is super hard, and you have to beat it to get an upgrade on your ship from the slower version that you're playing.
Now, this first level is training and learning how to maneuver, shoot, and all that jazz... so yes, you need this training. But, come on. I have never in my life played a game where the training levels were so hard that you wanted to quit. So, the difficulty level of the game itself could have been lowered in the beginning levels so that you can actually pass and gain some confidence in yourself and your abilities. By making it so hard, everyone else in my family gave up during the first level of training - even me a couple of times - until I finally was able to beat it and move on.
So, for the bad part of the game play - it's difficulty - it gets a 2 out of 5 from me.
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During the game, you will get to unlock several different items that are all viewable in the Vault. In the Vault, from your Ship Viewer, you can see any ships that you've unlocked so far during your missions and game play. You can see all of the different stats that set them apart from the other ships, such as speed, fire power, shields, and more. You can even rotate and view the ship from all sides by using your L1 and R1 buttons - which is a cool way to see every part of your favorite ships.
Also in your Vault, you'll be able to see the different Character Cards that you've unlocked. These can be from any era, and you'll see a face shot, their names, and some other information there. For each Character Card that you unlock during your game play, you will get a 20% bonus to the area of the ship where they belong. For example, unlock Scotty, and you get a 20% bonus to your speed and accelleration in that era. Unlock La Forge to get that same bonus in his era, and so forth. If you unlock a Captain card (such as Kirk or Picard), you'll get a 20% bonus to each of your ships in the four different systems.
As far as this part of the game goes, I love it. It's fun to see what all you can unlock and how much buffs you can get for your ships and crew. So, for this part of the game, I give it a 5 out of 5 as well.
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The controls are something that can be confusing until you get used to everything and how they work the ship. Basically, you will be using the left analog stick and L1 and L2 to move your ship around the universe. You will use the stick to move the ship wherever you want to go, and the L1 and L2 buttons to change the altitude of your ship. It's pretty easy to learn, but it will take some getting used to on each different ship that you unlock, as each one has a different way of how sensitive they are to the controls.
Your weapons and targeting systems are another area where you'll have to get used to the game as you go. You use your right analog stick to aim and then shoot with the R2 button. As you are targeting, you'll have a big green cone in front of your ship that will show you the range of your shots. You have to learn to maneuver your ship so that the target is in that green cone for your shots to be effective. This is a pain to learn on every ship, as just like with the movements, each one is different when it comes to sensitivity. But, once you master it, you'll make about every shot you take.
The controls are hard, but they are fun once you master them. So, for the controls on the game, I rate them a 4 out of 5.
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Now, you won't get to actually play as one of your favorite captains here, but you can pilot the ships that you love, interact with your favorite characters, and see your favorite worlds. So, for any true Star Trek fan, I would recommend this game even with it being so hard. So, when you're out seeking a new game to challenge you, check out Star Trek: Encounters - I know that you won't be sorry you did.