To be perfectly frank I have never really been a big fan of the Deep Space Nine TV series. I am not really sure why but Voyager has always been my thang, perhaps it is just the simple pleasures of Seven of Nine in that skin tight .... errr I'll shut now. It seems like I have been sent the wrong game to review but never fear, being the true professional I ventured on into this previously unknown side of the Star Trek world. New characters are aplenty, with names like Dax, Bashir, Garak, Odo, O'Brien and Sisko (isn't he a rapper with a preference for thongs?) and a load of new planets, ships and the all important distress calls and subsequent attacks by an evil race of strange alien beings.
The main gist of the story is that the evil and seemingly all-powerful Pah-wraiths have been exiled but are on the verge of returning. The key to releasing and harnessing their powers are tied up within three archaic Red Orbs. Playing as a choice of the three main characters - Captain Sisko, Major Kira, or Lt. Commander Worf - you must retrieve said orbs to save the day. I am sure if you are a fan of DS9 this story line, and the history of the Pah-wraiths, sounds enthralling but it seems a pretty much normal Star Trek concoction to me.
And it is the Star Trek production where the game really excels. All the TV actors with the exception of O'Brien and Sisko have donated their vocal chords to the project and the result is, as you'd expect from highly paid and popular professionals, some very impressive voice acting. Couple with this the ubiquitous colourful Star Trek GUI, some of the best produced and atmospheric in-game music and sound effects, top-notch textures and models, and the result is a complete Star Trek game. A lot of time, money and planning have been put into perfectly re-creating the Star Trek world with some impressive results.
Numerous Star Trek games have been made in the past and a lot of them have been bad, bad games but the recent Star Trek Voyager Elite Force is right at the top of the pile. Taken at face value it seems a lot like The Fallen so why even bother buying both? Voyager is a true first person action 'shoot-em-up' with The Fallen being more of a Tomb Raider style action adventure with an in-depth story, greater character interaction and more puzzles and missions then you can shake a stick at. The Fallen's viewpoint is also different, from a third person perspective, presumably to help you with all the jumping, crouching, climbing and hanging moves your character can pull off. But the main focus is on story progression, door and switch configuration and locating key cards with a variety of other mission objectives and puzzles thrown in to add some balance.
One new item that I was pleased by was the tricorder, the hand held device they scan literally everything with in all the TV series, which locates important items for you and can scan for useful information. Other in-game objects include more than ten different weapons with two modes of fire, from the run-of-the mill phaser to grenade launchers as well as health packs, shield emitters and the ever-useful communicator.
Each of the three main characters has different but basically similar storyline paths, with different levels and starting weapons (although as the game progresses they share the more potent firepower). When I say similar I mean they are obviously following the same storyline but from different perspectives, which then rather nicely interlink together. If you finish the game with one character, try with another and familiar communications and events will raise their ugly heads.
Trying yet again to distance itself from the Voyager game The Collective chose the Unreal Tournament engine to power The Fallen. Naturally the engine had provided a great platform resulting in a great looking game with impressive level architecture and design, weapons effects and models. The developers have of course enhanced it slightly with an impressive 'custom-designed inverse kinematics and bone animation system'. I found the strafing animation a particular amusing and delight to watch. The all important camera system is also will executed with a now familiar transparency effect to avoid those annoying blockages.
Additionally the alien enemies are all accurately drawn and animated but do not really vary enough to keep you on your toes. The majority of the combat is easy to deal with and is also let down by the annoyingly jerking auto aim system, which thankfully you can turn off. But I am sure such a system is not needed as even the beginner PC gamer wields the mouse with at least some degree of accuracy.
Certainly an entertaining and balanced adventure game The Fallen brings a little to what's already out there and then uses the Star Trek license to its fullest. The characters, storyline, sounds and events blend all so well together creating an atmospheric and very easy to play game. If you are a fan of Star Trek and especially one of the Deep Space 9 branch you are in for a treat - all you have seen on the TV is now available in 3D, your own personal Star Trek world. And even if you are not a great Star Trek fan The Fallen is still a great tomb raider-esque romp to get your teeth into ... Sambolc out - well I had to put in one Star Trek geek joke :)