For Star Trek fans there can't have been many things more exciting than Star Trek Legacy. It's been a while since we had a good Trek game and Legacy seemed to be combining stunningly beautiful space combat with a story spanning all five Star Trek eras. Add in voice work from the five captains, all the major enemies from the show's history, and there seemed little that could go wrong. Despite showing such great promise, though, it saddens me to say that Star Trek Legacy simply isn't as engaging as it should have been.
Legacy is focussed entirely on space combat, so don't expect any exploring of alien planets, shenanigans in the holodeck or any walking around the ships themselves. You are put in control of a captain's ship, starting with that seen in Enterprise, and can command other ships as part of your fleet. These aren't nimble little fighters, so combat is a slow affair, but you can hardly expect a starship to turn on a sixpence. Still, if you think Legacy will offer something akin to the Star Wars Tie-Fighter games, think again.
With a story that does little more than tell you what to do and where to go, the action is left to carry the game and it doesn't quite pull it off. You can take direct control of your ship (or of those in your fleet), but it's far easier to press 'A' in the direction you want to travel or on the target you want to follow, and let the game handle ship control for you. Speed can be controlled with relative ease, with four speeds ranging up to full impulse, and there's even a warp speed command if your ship is up to it.
Firing weapons is the main area where Legacy disappoints, as it often feels clumsy and rather out of your control. The weapon capabilities vary from ship to ship, but you always need to rely on the game's targeting. A simple click of the right bumper button on the 360 controller targets the nearest enemy, but from here you have limited options. Even when your weapons appear to be fully charged you'll be dancing around enemy ships waiting for the targeting system to kick in, and the lack of manual aiming becomes rather painful.
During these not so action packed moments of combat you can do various things, like divert power to weapons, thrusters and shields, instruct other ships in your fleet to attack, and even start repairs on damaged systems, but at no stage did I ever feel like I was in full control - most of the time I felt I was simply along for the ride. Little touches, like one of the ship's crew informing you that all power has been diverted to the shields, add to the Star Trek geek factor, but on the whole it's hard to be overly excited.
As the game progresses, and you move through the different Star Trek eras, things pick up a little, with the more advanced ships offering slightly more entertainment value, but problems are always only a few moments away. Many missions can span numerous objectives, and your patience will be tested as you repeatedly fail more than 20 minutes into a mission, invariably on the last objective - with no mid-mission checkpoints it's back to the start you go. Repeat that numerous times throughout the game and you'll be hoping Kirk and co have a problem during their next transporter trip.
Some impressive presentation holds things together for a while, that is until you start to notice all the cut corners. All the ships look great, as to be expected, but the scenery in space is largely static and larger objects break apart like they've been sliced up - rather ruining the temporary glee felt when taking down a Borg Cube. Audio work is solid, with some rousing music, but voice work is delivered rather woodenly on the whole and isn't a patch on what you'll hear in the TV shows. It's rather telling that the opening montage of gameplay clips and the accompanying music is actually more exciting than the rest of the game combined.
With the fairly short single-player campaign over and done with you're left with a skirmish mode against AI opponents and a similar four-player mode playable over Xbox Live. It's nice enough, but, being based on the same gameplay as found in the campaign, it's not likely to win over anyone who doesn't have an unhealthy obsession with all the ships featured in the game.
Star Trek fans longing for another game based on their favourite sci-fi show may well get some enjoyment out of Star Trek Legacy's ambling space combat, but casual observers of the shows will want a more enthralling experience. A lacklustre story, the complete focus on dull space combat and a lack of checkpoints makes Legacy a game that simply didn't live up to its potential. Here's hoping that the long in development Star Trek MMO delivers the goods.