Spock! New game a treat for Trekkers

GAME ROOM

March 19, 2001|By Kevin Washington | Kevin Washington,SUN STAFF

"Starfleet Command Vol. II: Empires at War" warps past most offerings in the long line of Star Trek PC games but requires real attention to tactics and strategy.

An update to the first-volume game released in the fall 1999, "SFC II" was created by Taldren and is published by Interplay. It has better graphics and tactical challenges and is more fun to play than the original - which was no slouch.

Both volumes take place in the 23rd century and are based on the turn-taking board game "Star Fleet Battles." With a computer, the warfare takes place in a 3-D environment. Ships turn slowly, must take time to recharge their weapons and operate in the deliberate manner that large naval warships must in slugging it out. This is no fighter simulator.

Just as Capt. James Tiberius Kirk did so many years ago, you command a starship in combat.

The manual, which offers good advice on how to succeed, is straightforward; coupled with the tutorials that accompany the game, the manual helped me master the basics in an hour or so.

Then things get interesting. Your screen is split in two. On the left side is a complicated control panel. On the right, your tactical display. You'll need to learn the keyboard shortcuts that carry out combat commands because using the mouse to click on the options on the control panel isn't fast enough to keep up with a moving starship battle.

"SFC II" may be 3-D, but it isn't nearly as much fun to look at as Interplay's "Klingon Academy." On the other hand, "KA" requires far less analysis than the original "SFC," much less this one. Moreover, with three levels of difficulty, you'll get months of enjoyable play out of "SFC II."

"SFC II" requires Windows 95 or a later edition running on a 350 MHz Pentium II with a 3-D graphics card. If you don't have a high- end graphics card, you'll need at least a 500 MHz Pentium III.

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