Star Trek is one of the most storied intellectual properties in pop culture today. What started as a failed pilot first shown to NBC in 1965, has become one of the premiere science fiction franchises spanning six television series, thirteen feature films, and an array of video games that started with the text-based adventure Star Trek in 1971. Since then, the franchise has hit many genres of video games including adventure, MMORPGs, first-person shooters, and real-time strategy. In honor of the seventh television series premiering on September 24th, here are five games that are worth their weight in gold-pressed latinum for the adventure that awaits in the final frontier.
Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force
A first-person shooter isn’t really where one would expect to find a franchise full of exploration and moral dilemma, but the setting of the Voyager series makes for a more adventurous setting. In the series, the U.S.S. Voyager is sent 70,000 light years away from home. The only hope for the crew is to be led by Captain Kathryn Janeway (Orange Is The New Black‘s Kate Mulgrew) to lead them on the 70-year journey home. With no support coming from home, they have to fend for themselves in uncharted space. In Elite Force, players take on the role of a male or female Ensign Alex Munroe, second in command of the Elite Force, a strike team meant to be a tactical advantage against overwhelming odds. The Elite Force is forced to defend Voyager from enemies like the Hirogen, Klingons, Borg, and species designed for the game. The title was developed by FPS veterans Raven Software. Along with a campaign, Elite Force offered a multiplayer mode named Holomatch, using the in-universe Holodecks as a proving ground. Additionally, an expansion pack was offered which had a new maps, voice acting, and a “sub-game” which allowed players to explore portions of the ship free from shooting action. However, prospective players will want to hunt the PC copy, as it is considered superior to the PS2 version.
Star Trek Armada II
Real-time strategy titles were all over the place in 2001 when Star Trek Armada II launched. Here, Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) spearheads a renewed assault against a Borg incursion into the Federation’s territory. At the same time, Chancellor Martok (J.G. Hertzler) leads the Klingons to fight the Cardassian Union. Players can choose to play from six playable races, hunt for resources, research new technologies, and take the fight to the enemy. Unlike other RTS titles of the time, Armada II has the player utilizing all three dimensions of the playing field. If an opponent is zoomed in on their base, they may not see an attack from above their base. Further, wormholes can create shortcuts on maps, and nebula can render weapons, shields, and sensors inoperative, turning the tide of starship battle. Star Trek Armada II was developed by Mad Doc Software, now known as Rockstar New England.
Star Trek Bridge Commander
In Bridge Commander, players take on the role of a new captain in charge of the U.S.S. Dauntless, after a sun’s explosion causes the death of the prior captain. Players are able to coordinate with the in-game senior staff to affect navigation, repairs, weapons, shields, and more. Created by Totally Games, developers of X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter, Bridge Commander‘s gameplay is not unlike a space combat simulator, just with large capital ships instead of one-person fighters. It also features a multiplayer component to create your own battles. A robust modding community offer up plenty more starships, crew members, bridges, star systems, and more.
Star Trek Deep Space Nine: The Fallen
The Fallen is a very different kind of game. Here, players take the roles of Captain Benjamin Sisko, Major Kira Nerys, and Lieutenant Commander Worf in three different playthroughs. Each character has different levels and tell a piece of the story. A third-person shooter that tied directly into events of the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, The Fallen has players tackling with the discovery of red Orbs of the Prophets that can resurrect aliens known as Pah-Wraiths. These aliens were cast out by aliens that reside in a stable wormhole that the Bajoran people revere as Gods. Together, Sisko, Kira, and Worf are the keys to restoring peace when the Cardassians, Bajorans, and the Dominion all decide they want the Orbs for themselves. While it has no multiplayer component, The Fallen gives one of the best storylines Star Trek has seen in a video game.
Star Trek: 25th Anniversary
A classic game in every sense of the word, many regard 25th Anniversary as the missing 4th season to the original show. Originally releasing in 1992, this adventure title features 7 missions for the player to solve. Combining point-and-click adventure stylings with starship combat, players get to become the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise and face off against new unknowns, Klingons, Romulans, and the ever-present red shirt death. It’s sequel Judgement Rites is also well done and has an over-arching plot. 25th Anniversary is closer to show’s “problem-of-the-week” formula.
Honorable Mention: Star Trek Legacy
It isn’t one of the greatest games available for Star Trek, but what it does do great is have an overarching plot that spans all five TV eras. That feat has only been accomplished once before, but did not fit into canon at all. Legacy makes a better attempt at doing so, even managing to gather all five on-screen Captains to provide voices for their characters. The game itself released in 2006 and is a third person ship combat title that has players scanning, escorting, and fighting various ships in the campaign. There is also a multiplayer portion that allows players to fly craft from the Federation, Klingons, Romulans, and the Borg.
There’s plenty of other games out there in the Star Trek universe, but these are the best the franchise has to offer. Live long and prosper as you make your way through these games, and get ready for Star Trek Discovery premiering this Sunday. Check your local listings for show times.