The PS2's a funny beast, on one hand you have some amazing titles that take advantage of the graphics, and on the other you have PC ports that don't quite live up to the original's standards. Because let's face it, no matter how much you try and beat a PC with graphics - along comes another card manufacturer and pushes the limits of what we thought were acceptable. Pretty soon there's really going to be a thin line between the human body and the virtual representation. Squaresoft proved that the CGI film was not impossible - and to this day I remember some tech guys on TV years ago telling us. Fully featured CGI actors were probably not going to be a reality for a long time.
But where my problem lies are with PC to PS2 ports. In this case Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force. Now don't get me wrong, Raven created a top class Trek shooter on the PC and made quite an impression. I certainly loved it. But for me of course this particular outing to the PS2 falls short on the Multiplayer side. We can never expect PS2 shooters to offer the same wealth of options, bot modes and other features of the PC. I was not happy with Quake 3 PS2 nor was I Unreal Tournament PS2. All the titles lack the polish of the originals.
But I can say this, out of all of the STV:EF remains one of the most faithfully reproduced even if the MP is a bit lacking. Then again if you've got 4 players and the inclination to play against your mates then you can dive right in. Where STV:EF shines has always been the well crafted singleplayer campaign and missions. I'm bound to get someone who disagrees with me, but as you know by now. I'm not bothered by ranting idiots who just live to start flame wars: Sooner or later they'll grow up, leave the internet and go and find a real life. I'm trapped here, a cyberprisoner in a world that I can't escape - forced by evil netgods to write reviews for games - of course, it's a good kind of trapped.
Back to the game, if you're not familiar with EF by now then where have you been? It's a classic story of Voyager meets alien badguys, badguys explode and hurl Voyager into another dimension, a dimension not only of sight, sound but of other nasty aliens and their ever present nemesis' The Borg, amongst others.
The game starts with Ensign Munro (Male or Female) on a mission to infiltrate a Borg cube and rescue his captured friends. In the first draft of the game on the PC it was obvious that Raven paid a lot of attention to detail and the Voyager was expertly modelled and the characters were pretty close to the originals. There's also a host of excellent voice talent provided by the original cast of Voyager. Nice to see is that 7of9's voice is now the original actress as well. When EF was first released they used another actress that just wasn't as good as the original. But a pack was made available that soon put that right.
All the sounds of the game are excellent, from the hiss of a door, to the metallic drone of the Borg. The weapons are pretty accurately modelled and give a good feeling of Trek to the game. Though it does have a few other weapons that are obviously inspired by the FPS genre of big guns. But there's nothing wrong with that to be honest. Since the sfx and sound effects are crisp and effective. The graphics are of a lower resolution than the PC version but still seem a bright and colourful change to the dull browns and greens of the old Quake games.
And it's refreshing to know that the game plays in Singleplayer as well as it did on the PC, though it's a little harder to get used to the controls, the quick fingered amongst you will soon be turning Borg into melted metal. Just remember to hit them hard and fast, they have this annoying habit of modulating their shields that has been implemented in the game - much to a friend of mine's annoyance who played it as well. I was too busy grinning like a maniac at his attempts to shoot the green shields out. You'll find there's a mix of shooting and stealth to employ in EF since some of the early levels see you with very little in the way of armament.
The story is well crafted and feels like an episode of Voyager that is where the game always rated highly in my book. I'm no great fan of Trek by a long shot; I'm much more into the darker side of Sci Fi. Though I did have a soft spot for some of Babylon 5 - especially the twisted Shadows. I really can't complain about this port because at least it gives PS2 players a chance to have a crack at a top class PC shooter - not because of the deathmatch options but because of the excellent storyline and gameplay in the singleplayer element.
There's a good variety to the missions and you never really feel as though you're stuck for long. Some clever puzzles and features make it much more worthwhile to stick at playing. You have AI buddies which attempt to make use of the cover and the tactical elements of the levels - some of the shoot outs are quite fun and they actually feel like people, rather than just bots. If one dies you ponder reloading to see if you could actually make it different that time around.
So thumbs up to Raven and to the crew who ported this title to the PS2, it's great if you want to grab a slice of Trek singleplayer action. And if you have 3 extra mates and pads you could have a bit of a knockabout on some pretty good levels. All in all it's a great Trek game since a lot of the Trek games happen to be a bit lacking.
Give it a miss if you have the PC version though.