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Star Trek: Legacy, a DVD-ROM by Mad Doc Software for Bethesda Softworks and Ubisoft, distributed with a 25-page Hebrew-language user's manual by Hed Artzi Multimedia, requires Windows XP and a Pentium 4 PC or better, for ages 12 through adult, NIS 219.
If NASA's manned space program had as many bugs, made poor decisions and suffered from such inept artificial intelligence as this Star Trek game does, it never would have gotten off the ground. The game, which transverses all the generations of the epic American science fiction franchise, is a great disappointment and will satisfy no one except maybe the most fervent Trekkies.
It began in 1966 with an NBC-TV show created by Gene Roddenberry and starring William Shatner (now 75) as Capt. James T. Kirk and Leonard Nimoy (born just four days later, in 1931) as his half-Vulcan first officer, Mr. Spock. The show spawned 10 feature films, scores of computer and video games, hundreds of novels and a theme park in Las Vegas.
After surviving World War III, mankind fled from Earth to space where it traveled faster than light, living as altruistic humans along with alien species in the galaxy. Its aim was "to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before."
As acting teams, issues and causes evolved over the decades, Star Trek moved from the original and animated series to The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager and - most recently - Enterprise (between 2001 and 2005, when the show was finally canceled). Nostalgia should be reserved mostly for the four-decade-old TV shows.
Eight years ago, Hed Artzi distributed The Star Trek Encyclopedia, a set of four CD-ROMs aimed at capitalizing on the diminishing number of fans, but instead of giving buyers the feeling that they were playing a game, it was more a course for would-be space technicians, except that all the equipment was imaginary.
Now it has further deteriorated into a shoot-'em-up action game with a lot of problems. Even though I had already installed it on my hard disk, when I wanted to play I was asked to install it again. Once I got into it, the Campaign mode crashed twice - on two different computers. The Multiplayer mode crashed as well, and when it came back, I couldn't find a partner - as if there were nobody else in cyberspace who was actually playing at the same moment.
The Skirmish mode involves one space vehicle shooting at another from outside them, with the controls confusing and badly placed. You can't decide even which keys and mouse clicks to use, the defaults chosen by the computer are mandatory and sometimes they are too close to each other, which can lead to errors and mixups.
The Campaign mode places gamers inside a variety of space vehicles. But instead of the cerebral space exploration and cooperation or the scientific endeavors for which the early TV shows were known, Legacy focuses almost completely on destruction. Some of the missions are very long and repetitive, but even though they can be drawn out, there are no save points, so after working like mad to finish a mission for 20 minutes or more, you can make a mistake and lose everything just before completing it.
There is no logic here. When you hit another ship with a missile, the destructive effect depends on how many shots hit the target and not how much damage the vehicle incurs. The spaceships are varied and detailed. The graphics engine is OK but rather outmoded, and some space vehicles pass right through others as if they were invisible or carom off planets or other solid objects without even a dent. As for sound, there is plenty of talk between ships, but this quickly becomes dull for the lack of animations representing the speakers, some of whom are voiced in by actors from the TV show (including the the septuagenarian Shatner, who sounds bored with his part). Other dialogue is canned and repeated time after time.
Perhaps the time has come to put Star Trek out to pasture... Over and out, Scotty (James Doohan, the series' "Scotty," died of Alzheimer's disease more than a year ago at 85).