If there is one consistency among Star Trek fans it’s that they will pay absurd amounts of money for any product even remotely related to their beloved science fiction series. These products include but are not limited to, books, stamps, neckties, decorative plates, a full set of autographed Jean Luc Picard tea-cups, mock Klingon batleths, figurines, bed covers, drapes, posters, stick-on Vulcan ear extensions, magazines, building kits for even the most obscure Star Trek ship, a welcome to the Enterprise doormat, playing cards and a whole host of completely unplayable computer games only the most dedicated fan would even attempt to play. Fortunately though for us, avid gamers, not all the Star Trek games are unplayable there are exceptions to that rule. Star Trek: 25th anniversary is just such an exception.
Star Trek: 25th anniversary is by no means the first Star Trek PC game. Quite a few attempts had been made to produce a decent Star Trek title, from simple trivia question games to full fledged adventure games that featured either cast from the original series (TOS) or the next generation (TNG). None had much if any success. That all changed however when in 1992 Interplay arrived on the scene.
In their first ever star trek game Interplay choose to the tried and tested route and put forth a solid and entertaining adventure game in which the player commands all the well known TOS characters, Spock, McCoy and of course the alien stomping babe magnet Captain James Tiberius Kirk as well the rest of the cast. The designers attempted to stay as close the television series as possible which results in the very believable (for a Star Trek setting) situations in which the crew find themselves. Interplay also uses some characters from the series themselves to provide flavour to the game.
The game itself is divided into chapters each representing a single mission or episode that the player needs to bring to a satisfactory conclusion. 25th anniversary lacks the one best way approach, which plagues so many adventure games, in that there are several ways you can complete your missions. You are then marked by an admiral for the way you choose to solve a particular puzzle. This heightens the replay ability of the game since you can attempt to get a better mark for a mission.
Graphically Star Trek: 25th anniversary is nothing breathtaking but it is more then adequate for a game from the early nineties. I sometimes had difficulty distinguishing between Mr Spock and Dr McCoy but that never led to mayor problems. Star Trek 25th anniversary does have a most peculiar control system that takes some getting used to. It uses what seems to be a normal point and click pictogram system which was then replacing the older PARSER interface but its execution of that point and click interface is so unusual that I more then once had to consciously go through a step by step process to get things done. This does not lead to complications in the game however since in an adventure game you are rarely pressed for time and you’ll soon be familiar enough with the interface.
All in all Star Trek: 25th anniversary is a well executed and surprisingly entertaining game that depicts the Star Trek universe of the original series with accuracy. That fact however limits its appeal to fans of the series. Outsiders will have difficulty understanding the humour of game and will be annoyed by the incessant banter of the characters while they try to figure out why it is unusual that Klingons are robots or any other of the games puzzles that require a more then fair amount of insider knowledge to complete. For fans of Star Trek however this game is a God send. Anyone who has ever wanted to partake in an away mission needs look no further.
On an interesting side note, one year after the release of Star Trek: 25th anniversary, Interplay released an enhanced cd-rom version of this game. On it all the dialogue in the game is spoken by the actors themselves, very much increasing the involvement of the player in the action. If you ever run across a copy of this cd-rom I recommend you buy it. It will be well worth your money.