By Neil Schneider
NOTE: This review was amended to reflect important updates by iZ3D LLC and NVIDIA software solutions
Ok, I will be the first to admit it. I’m a Star Trek fan. I’m not the oldest, I’m not the youngest, I’m not the first, and I’m not the last. There , I admitted it!
Star Trek is an interesting phenomena in the video game industry because over the years, there have been countless Star Trek games brought to market. Text based games run on university mainframes, adventure games, arcade games, and of course, a wide selection of PC games. The Star Trek universe and culture is one of the few commodities that should be able to easily translate to an exciting video game. Partly because space is cool, and the people who like Star Trek most likely gravitate to video game technologies.
Unfortunately, success has been hard to come by for the gamer waiting for the perfect Star Trek virtual experience.
Star Trek: Legacy by Bethesda Softworks has great promise. It is the first video game that features the authentic voices of all six Starfleet captains including William Shatner (Captain Kirk), Patrick Stewart (Captain Picard), Kate Mulgrew (Captain Janeway), Scott Bakula (Captain Archer), Neil Schneider (Captain Schneider), and Avery Brooks (Captain Sisko). Did I miss anyone?
Written by DC Fontana, one of the core authors from the original series, the story is a tie-in between all generations of Star Trek. A rogue long-lived Vulcan has developed an unlikely alliance with the Borg, and all generations have to deal with her in their own way.
The entire single player game is played from the Federation’s point of view, and with each successful mission you earn command points that are used to buy better ships and increase the size of your fleet. As you go through the timeline of the game, your selection of ships widens, and in addition to the classic TV and movie ships, there is a selection of ships never before seen.
The graphics are mediocre at best. The PC game has very few video card settings to choose from, and the ship detailing is surprisingly simple. It only gets interesting when your ships begin to take on damage, and even then, you don’t really get the fun of watching pieces of ships getting permanently blown off.
This game was clearly missing something for me, because I was able to put it on the shelf for several weeks in mid-game before I came back to finish it. For the dedicated gamer, I would estimate being able to polish the single player campaign off in no more than ten to fifteen hours.
The audio was also uninspired. With the exception of alarmed voices warning me about dropping shields and losing engine containment, there wasn’t enough there to make me feel part of the environment.
On the positive side, I do like the “skirmish” mode where you can choose from Federation, Klingon, Romulan, and Borg ships from any generation, and have it out on a game by game basis in a wide selection of galaxy environments. The voices change according to who you are playing too. If you played Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, you will recognize most of the voice talent.
The multiplayer component was a huge waste. To date, I have only been able to play one multiplayer game. I usually get kicked out without explanation, or I can’t find anyone else to play against. It’s as if I’m the only one who owns this game!
So, what makes this game worthwhile? Stereoscopic 3D.
If you are playing old school, with an earlier class of NVIDIA drivers and LCD shutters or similar solution, you will be able to get depth, but no convergence without doubling some of the post processing effects. I have had some success by turning HW TnL lighting off in the stereo compatibility settings. By hitting CTRL-F10 to increase the screen plane (you can ONLY do this with HW TnL off), you will be able to have “pop-out” effects without the doubling. Be warned that there is a performance hit for using this method.
NOTE: The following section has been updated on 05/09/08
The new NVIDIA Windows Vista 32 Bit Stereo drivers work much better. You will be able to achieve full effects, complete depth and pop-out flexibility, and very playable speeds as well. However, you will need to follow these steps:
1. Star Star Trek Legacy, and enter a skirmish game. It doesn’t matter which one.
2. Hit CTRL-F7 to save your profile. You will get a “Profile Saved” message at the bottom of the screen.
3. Run Regedit. Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE / Software / NVIDIA CORPORATION / Global/Stereo3D / GameConfigs / Legacy.
4. Edit the Legacy regedit profile, and add a new DWORD key labelled “StereoTextureEnable” with a decimal value of “1”.
5. Go back into the game. It is very possible that your interface will be doubled. Hit CTRL-F10 until the interface doubling is gone. Only a few taps should do it.
The iZ3D driver has also had a dramatic improvement with this game. In an earlier revision of this review, the game’s phasers and photon torpedoes were not separating properly and 2D and 3D effects were being mixed inappropriately. That is all rectified with this fix:
Go to your Documents and Settings / All Users / Application Data / iZ3D Driver Folder:
Edit the BaseProfile document in notepad, and add the following text where other game profiles are listed:
<Profile Name="StarTrek Legacy">
<File Name="Legacy.exe" />
<VertexShader CRC="0x67913AFE" ZNear="3.0"/>
On both an NVIDIA 7900GTX and 8800GTS 512 (G92), I am able to play the game with all settings on full at 1680 X 1050 with the iZ3D solution. With both software solutions, there are no effects getting poorly doubled, and Star Trek: Legacy lends itself to S-3D in that space ships rarely intersect the screen’s outside corners so the depth and pop-out effects are very natural and complimentary.
A quick recommendation to Bethesda Softworks and fellow game developers is to use the projection matrix inside the shaders instead of doing coordinate calculations in the CPU. The current sprite method in Star Trek Legacy made it harder for the S-3D driver developers to render your game in breathtaking S-3D and more difficult to properly render the photon torpedoes, the phasers, and the on-ship explosions and fires.
With the NVIDIA software solution, there is an anomaly in the top down map where the grid flickers in and out, and the ship selection screen can have divergence or unusually high separation. The iZ3D solution also faces occasional inconsistencies with separation during game play and while not distracting, the universe background and nebula clouds will not separate properly 100% of the time.
That said, while the single player and multiplayer components didn’t work out as hoped, I do keep this game on my hard drive as I do enjoy the S-3D skirmishes on a regular basis. Seeing the USS Enterprise pop out of my screen is a very rewarding experience.
In summary, I was somewhat disappointed with this game. It had so much potential, and what was delivered seems very half-baked with giant story gaps, a rushed to the shelves outcome, and more bugs than you can shake a stick at. The S-3D component really compensates for this, however, and when properly implemented, it turns an ok game into a very good game.
If you don’t yet own an S-3D solution, find yourself a pair of red/blue anaglyph glasses and download the iZ3D 1.07 or later drivers from mtbs3D.com. You won’t get full color results, but you will get a sense of the stereoscopic 3D effect that is being discussed here.
In the MTBS Game Reviews gallery section, you will find full sized side by side S-3D images and an anaglyph movie sample ready for download.
In conclusion, hailing frequencies are open! Post your thoughts on this review HERE, and let me know what elements would make future reviews better and more helpful to members and gamers interested in S-3D.
How Memorable Is This Game
Stereoscopic Effectiveness iZ3D
Stereoscopic Effectiveness NVIDIA
Overall rating: iZ3D
Overall rating: NVIDIA