Third-person action games, such as those in the Tomb Raider series, are related to, but subtly different from, games in the first-person-shooter genre. They not only present action from diverse perspectives – vantage points outside your on-screen persona – but also call on different skills. These games often require a better sense of spatial awareness and feature more puzzles, platforms, and mazes.
This month I’m taking a look at third-person-action game Star Trek Deep Space Nine: The Fallen.
By far, my favourite Star Trek show has been Deep Space Nine. So I had high expectations of Simon & Schuster Interactive’s release of Star Trek Deep Space Nine: The Fallen, a game that finally came to the Mac after a delay of almost a year. Was it worth the wait? In some respects, yes; in others, no.
The Fallen fits into the framework of Simon & Schuster’s Star Trek Deep Space Nine series of novels. If you’re a fan of the books, you’ll be pleased to find a game that maintains their storyline. Developed by Collective Studios, The Fallen alternately puts you in the roles of characters Sisko, Kira, and Worf. You must recover the Red Orb, an ancient artefact containing the essence of the Pah Wraiths – a race of alien creatures that once threatened to destroy the people of planet Bajor. Two opposing forces have discovered that recovering the Orb can lead either to peace or to the development of a superweapon.
The Fallen is powered by the Unreal Tournament engine, and it looks and plays great – most of the time. Collective Studios has added some advanced features to the engine that help provide fluid character animation and realistic special effects. All the requisite elements of the third-person action game are here. You’ll spend much of your time exploring different areas, recovering items you need to continue the game, and achieving goals such as collecting keycards. A lot of this game play is similar to other third-person action games, but it does drive the story forward.
The game’s interface is very Trek-like, and certain elements take The Fallen beyond a basic action game. You wield a tricorder to find items and life forms, and you match your phaser to the frequency of alien shields. You can call upon Bashir, Dax, Odo, and others to help you.
One of The Fallen’s most unusual aspects is that it’s a story told in three parts. You’re required to play each of the three characters in the story, although the order in which you play them is largely up to you. This sounds better in theory than it is in practice, because it can lead to inconsistent storytelling. It’s worth playing the game out as all three characters, though I had to stop between characters and play something else to avoid burnout.
Call me uncoordinated, but I repeatedly found myself getting cut to ribbons by various menaces as I fumbled with the sometimes-complex combination of keyboard and mouse movements needed to execute commands or use some items. The game’s difficulty level seems to be tweaked well above what’s customary for games of this ilk.
The Fallen has a well-crafted story filled with interstitial sequences that make the game move forward like an episode of the television show – it’s engrossing and a lot of fun. And you get a chance to explore the Defiant, visit Bajor, check-out different parts of the Deep Space Nine station, and travel to a Dominion prison base.
The game’s soundtrack production and voice acting are top-notch, too. In fact, the game’s producers lined up most of the actors from the television series, although sound-alike actors supplied the voices of O’Brien and Sisko. Those replacement actors did admirable jobs, but I must admit that I missed hearing Avery Brooks’s distinctive and commanding voice in the role of Sisko.
Alas, The Fallen had problems on my G4/500 equipped with Mac OS 9.1 and 512MB of RAM. Audio would occasionally click or pop, and I had to restart my Mac at times when the game froze. I also had a few problems getting the game to start at all.
Star Trek Deep Space Nine: The Fallen is beautiful to look at, but it’s hampered by audio glitches and can be unreliable.
This review appeared in the Expo 2001 issue