Space: the Camera pans slowly across a planet until coming to rest on the Enterprise. This is Captain Archer's Enterprise from the series Star Trek: Enterprise. The Camera follows it as it approaches the space docks where a familiar ship is getting its final fittings. This too is the Enterprise. The Enterprise of James T. Kirk. The torch has passed from one generation to the next.
Flash forward many years later. Kirk is locked in battle with his nemesis, Khan Noonien Singh. Fans know this moment well; it is the climactic battle from Star Trek II: the Wrath of Khan. Kirk's Shields are down. Khan is vicious and he has the upper hand. What Kirk does next is a piece of Star Trek history. This time it is up to you, though.
At our E3 demo of Star Trek: Legacy for the PC and Xbox 360, this is the point at which the gameplay began. Mad Doc and Bethesda have been working hard to create a Star Trek experience unlike any other and they started by showing us how with this classic setup: Khan on the offensive and Kirk with his shields down.
Unlike so many games, there isn't a set way that you are meant to defeat Khan. During the demonstration a producer for Mad Doc choose to take the Enterprise into a nebula that has a number of effects on ship's systems. While this knocks out shields and messes with sensors (It is hard to keep a lock on your target) in this instance it at least put the Enterprise and the Khan piloted Reliant on equal ground. In this Nebula he was able to defeat Khan.
Once I got my hands on the controller, it played out much differently. I was able to maneuver the Enterprise around a nearby space station, keeping it between the Reliant and Enterprise. This gave me the chance to take pot shots at Khan until we were better matched and then come out and destroy him.
Legacy promises a number of these classic battles. Mentioned were the massacres at Khitomer and Wolf 359. Both battles have merely been referenced in the series (although some of Wolf 359 can be glimpsed and the resulting carnage is a sight remembered well by Trek fans). Now will fans not only be able to finally see these events but take part in them as well. It will be interesting to see how these play out since they are both massacres. To play through the traditional viewpoint, or the "good-guys", you have to either alter Star Trek canon or eventually be massacred. It isn't often that you are slaughtered after a successful campaign in a game. Not that it couldn't be done well. Or, on the other hand, you would have to play as the "villains". As much as I am dying to play as the Borg I am not so sure this instance would be the best. I'm not sure how many fans would like to be responsible for killing Captain Sisko's wife and leaving his son motherless at Wolf 359. It will be interesting to see what they do in those instances and to see what other classic scenarios Mad Doc has come up with.
Legacy will feature over 60 ships spanning all five series and the movies. Every ship from every show! The ships will show real time damage as you battle all the major races from the Star Trek universe. You will be able to build your own fleet with these vessels and upgrade them as you work your way through Legacy, selecting any ship in your fleet at anytime. On the flip side, if you lose a ship it is gone. The developers not only paid special attention to the look of each ship but more importantly to the way each ship worked. The player is given control of all of the ships main functions. You can divert power to and from phasers or shields or to the engines as needed. You can also target enemy systems by your shot placement. Firing on the front of a ship might take out their phasers while hitting the back may damage the engines. Also, you need to balance the types of attacks you use. Phasers do more damage to shields while photon torpedoes do more hull damage. So, it is optimal to fire phasers when the enemies shields are up and save your torpedoes until they come down. You will be able to develop intricate tactics for the ship to ship battles.
Control of the fleet is handled in two ways. There is the mode where you have hands on control of a single ship with limited control of the others, as well as a tactical map that you access with the back button. This gives you broad control over the whole fleet, akin to an RTS. In single ship mode you can easily jump from ship to ship within your armada. From the tactical map you can quickly redirect the entirety of your fleet on a new target or break off a wing to set up a trap. The variations on how you can complete each mission seem to be many. This is a nice change of pace from the many standardized games out there.
There are a number of multiplayer modes in the works. The most exciting to me is the online co-op mode. You should be able to play through most, if not all of the missions together with a friend over the internet on the PC or Xbox Live on the 360. Deathmatch and Capture the Planet modes are among what's planned for Legacy with more to be announced. This will be where you pit the fleets you have created against those of your friends. Multiplayer will also give you the chance to play as the infamous Borg. It sounds well thought out and not just tacked on to the story mode.
Star Trek: Legacy's story mode is planned to have 15 to 20 missions and approximately 15 hours of gameplay. The developers are obviously fans because it sounds as if they went to great strides to come up with missions that are unique to the Star Trek universe. A stealth mission utilizing the Defiant's cloaking device is one of the more interesting mission ideas you can look forward to.
Legacy will have an all new storyline developed by writers from the series (although they wouldn't give names just yet). It will span all of the series but it is promised not to contain any time travel. It will unfold as Picard pieces together a key mystery. The producer I spoke with was leery of giving too many story details but when pressed he revealed that it would have to do with Regeneration, an Enterprise episode which features the Borg tussling with Archer's Enterprise many years before Picard's first meeting the Biomechanical menace.
"It centers around a character who has been around for a while. She has lived for a very long time."
"She?" I asked, putting the two story details together in my head. He only replied with a smile and a wink.
Content, I asked one last question, "What's your favorite Trek?"
"TOS (The Original Series). I like them all but it just gives me that warm fuzzy feeling." I know the one. It's kinda like the feeling I am getting from Star Trek: Legacy.
*Special thanks to Blaine Krumpe for his input on this article.