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Speccy's last trek game was rather excellent, giving every-thing TNG fans the globe over ever wanted. A decent point-and-click adventure mixed with space combat strategy bits and all the official Trekness you could want: realistic characters, original voice-overs and sound effects and a very stable and accurate Trekkie universe. It was fab. Okay, the format wasn't exactly original, the combat wasn't what you'd call exceptional and it would have been kinda cool if you got to control Picard all the time (instead of messing around with all the four crew members at once) but it was still a fantastic game.
Star Trek: TNG - A Final Unity wasn't actually based on a specific movie plot, but took in a few things from some of the tv series. Star Trek: Generations (as you've probably deduced) on the other hand is based on the film. Now, personally I thought the film wasn't particularly good. In fact I thought it was probably the worst Star Trek film ever made. Free audio sound software downloads. Thankfully, the game doesn't follow the plot of the film religiously, but expands on the general themes and ideas, taking in the characters, most of the scenarios and adding to them.
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At the very beginning these are introduced by way of a pretty lengthy (though very nicely done) intro sequence that sets the scene. An El-Aurian, Soran (played by Malcolm McDowell) is desperately trying to return to a dimension called the Nexus (a kind of ethereal Heaven). To get there he must somehow guide the gateway to his location on a planet where he can hop on board and be transported to ecstasy. Because he's essentially an evil nutter (you wouldn't expect McDowell to play anything else now, would you?), Soran is quite prepared to do absolutely anything to guide the ribbon to receive him, which means that he'll happily hop about the solar system blowing up stars (using probes containing tri-lithium) with complete gay abandon until he's on his way, with absolutely no thought for the billions of people who'll die as a result of his intergalactic pyrotechnics. Your task, as Star Fleet goody-goody, is to stop him at all costs.
Not Next Gen Game Engine
Generations is very different from the first TNG game. For starters, the development team have dropped the tried and tested point-and-click style approach in favour of a first-person 3D perspective view that's just a bit akin to the classic System Shock. It's not Quake (all the characters are sprites), but it's still very impressive nevertheless because of the detailing and amount of different textures used throughout. Developer Simon Ffinch explains: 'We decided to go with sprites because it allowed us to be more visually creative. Generations isn't about running around blasting things - it's not meant to be Quake. You can play it that way if you want to, but you won't get very far - that's not what Star Trek is all about. We wanted to create rich and diverse environments that the player could explore and interact with. If we'd looked at using polygons to do this, it would just be too big, or not detailed enough.'
In fact detail is a bit of a buzz word at Spectrum. Not only have they recorded another zillion lines of dialogue for the new game, spoken by the original cast, but they've raided Paramount's files for anything and everything to do with Star Trek: TNG. The results should have Treksters shivering in anticipation.
We now know more about Star Trek than Paramount, enthuses Simon. We've had access to all of their stuff -all the blueprints of the space ships, detailed documents on all the worlds featured in the film, all the characters. Basically, it's as accurate and faithful to the TV show and the film as you can get. Players will be able to beam down onto a Romulan ship and everything they see will be just as it should be within the Star Trek: TNG universe. All the equipment you can pick up and use will be genuine - players will be able to completely immerse themselves in the Star Trek universe and see for themselves just what it's like.
FMV definitely not VFM
Although Generations uses clips from the film, the team have made the effort to keep the fmv to an absolute minimum in an attempt to keep the game pacey. In total, there's about 20 minutes, and that includes a rather lengthy intro piece to set the scene in case you haven't seen the movie (like duh?). They've even re-done some of the sequences and music used in the film themselves in an attempt to improve on them, but they've kept them short so they don't intrude.
Obviously, this is a very important licence and the temptation to use as much fmv as you can get away with is difficult to resist, so just how valuable is the licence and how important is fmv in games? Personally, remarks Simon, I couldn't even sit through the intro of Wing IV. fmv, when used like that, is a waste of time and money.
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Generations was developed within a seven figure budget - not eight figure - we're not Origin. And you can quote me on that! chips in Marketing Manager Steve Haney.
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We're not interested in making interactive movies here, reaffirms Simon. What we want to do is make the Star Trek universe accessible to the fans by re-creating the Trek universe in as much detail as possible. You can't do that with loads of fmv. Hopefully, we've used the licence as best we can. Paramount are certainly very happy with what we've done. Hopefully, all those people who enjoy Star Trek will be too.