E3 2002: Star Trek

First off, to all the LOTR fans out there, sorry to disappoint you, but Ritual’s Lord of the Rings game was not on display at the show. It's safe to say that we won't hear much about this game until Electronic Arts officially announces it.

Anyway, on to things that were indeed present at the show. Star Trek Elite Force II was featured on two displays at Activision’s booth right next to Starfleet Command III, the publisher’s only other Star Trek game present at the show. Game designer Chris Stockman, lead level designer Benson Russel and Activision’s producer on the game, Doug Pearson, were all on hand to demo Elite Force II and answer whatever questions media people decided to throw at them.

The E3 demo featured three different environments, all of which were very distinct and extremely detailed. First up were the missions set aboard the Borg Sphere. Starting off with a very cool cinematic similar to Star Trek First Contact’s opening shot, we got our first “real” look at the new player models. The Hazard Team members are all extremely detailed, boasting high resolution skins and full facial animation using morph targets instead of animated textures like in the first Elite Force. Suffice to say, the end result looks a whole lot better.

The Borg Sphere itself was as detailed as it gets. Moody lighting, extensive use of shaders and lots of other little things contributed greatly to the overall atmosphere and immersion. Making their way through the Sphere, the team blasted a considerable amount of drones as well as distribution nodes, while at the same time hacking force fields with the Tricorder and opening secret passages by blowing up conveniently placed plasma relays. Eventually Voyager was freed and our heroes were on their way out, when a transporter malfunction caused Munro to rematerialize in a large chamber. Large rooms generally signal bad things, and this one was no different. An advanced Borg drone easily twice Munro's size decided it would be great to have Starfleet sushi for lunch.

The boss battles in EF2 are indeed a lot more “console-like” than in other PC games. Heavy Metal FAKK2 players will probably recognize the boss health bar, which has found its way into Elite Force II. The Borg boss itself has three different “stages” of attacks, so the more it is damaged, the nastier its attacks get. While the first stage isn’t anything out of the ordinary, the boss soon starts to send in other drones to fight the player and eventually beams around, making it a lot harder for the player to hit it. Luckily Ritual decided to reward smart players that look around the level. There are three nodes scattered around the area, each protected by a force field. By hacking the force field and destroying the node behind it, the boss is disabled for a few seconds, giving the player a chance to dish out some serious damage.

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