In an age where most Star Trek games failed to deliver most of their potential, Totally games tries to emerge us in a world of mystery, deceive and loads of debris.
Star Trek: Bridge Commander is a creation that includes alot of Mass. The game itself takes place in space, while you, Captain, take control of a spanking new Capital class ship, the game circles around taking control of it wisely.
The game itself tries to imitate the exact procedure of controlling the ship based on the TV show(s), at your command you will find the tactical warfare, warping and cruising to different parts of the universe, ship power/repair management and even scanning the diverse sectors your in. Surely you won't be alone in your travels nor it is expected from you to do all of the above physically, that's why you are accompanied by your cheerful staff that always stare.
The game starts when you, fellow trekkie, are assigned to the dauntless (from a Non-Trekkie point of view, a Spaceship similar to the enterprise :P), Anyway, you fill the blank the previous captain held, for the reason of being, well, Dead (yea, much to live up to). Anyway, The crew does mention your inexperience, partially to maintain the flow of the storyline and to make you believe that its OK to be dumb at first (till you 'gain' experience). Only time will reveal the mysteries lurking in space for you, inexperienced captain, needless to say, a classical trekkie situation.
One of the really cool features is Piccard, yes, Captain piccard, as he makes a virtual appearance, it seemed he was willing enough to do some voice-overs for the game, which gives it just a tad more authenticity but considering its only for the tutorials part of the game, its a bit of a let down (still, its a great feature)
The gameplay aspect of the game is rather interesting, for once, you get to control a large scale, capital ship, real commands with real crew, it gives the genre a wicked twist considering the 'traditional' space sims. The voice-overs are well done and they are very convincing as well as non-repetitive mostly. The gameplay goes forwards in a form of episodes, levels if you like, and gives a true 'TV' feeling as well as a feeling of self-control, you control the ship, the game control's you, fail and die, succeed and proceed.
The engine was the main letdown really, although it does do the job, it doesn't do it in its best possible form, the engine feels a bit outdated, too little galaxy 'effects', it lacks an active galaxy where you look at far away moving star dusts or suns far far away. The engine itself also Looks outdated, comparing it to the Independence War 2 engine or even the FreeSpace 2 engine, it does not fully leap into amazing boundaries. Let not be mistaken though, the engine is more than sufficient to deliver an authentic, action packed (nerve wrecking at times) game, the cutscenes especially are made to look like their TV counterparts, with 'hollywoodish' camera movement and possitioning. The lighting effects are rather impressive also, the beamed weapons, torpedoes as well as different 'general' particle based emissions look quite 'blending' and real, they give more character to the general atmosphere of space exploration and such.
One more great aspect of the game is the crew members and the game characters in general, you can easily make the difference between humans, Romulans and klingons, each with their unique look, one letdown was the lipsync, or lip movement for that matter, after seeing Lithtech's capabilities in Nolf, I'd say a better lipsync engine should have been created or used, specially that communicating is a key part of the game.
Although the other aspects of the game does stand for itself, the most profound and impressive aspect is the music, I was deeply Sucked into the trekkie feeling as the ongoing soundtrack played in my ears, it went dramatic in times of drama and smoother in times of exploration, very relevant and well composed music, and the delivery does not crap out after all.
So saying that this game is the perfect Space Simulator? not exactly; Yet another abomination from the Star Trek universe? Far from it; If your into Star Trek, I think you will enjoy this title in more than one way, assuming the role of the captain will leave you in charge in a lean mean, space machine, After all, no title is perfect right? Grab the bastard!