It's not easy being a Starfleet captain. No matter the Stardate, it seems like those pesky Klingons and Romulans are always causing trouble, even for the greenest of commanders. Set in the Original Series timeline (capitalization emphasized - no angry Trekkie emails, please), Star Trek Tactical Assault for the DS puts you at the helm of all the ships we grew up watching on TV to take on all comers.
We were plenty geeked out that William Shatner's Captain Kirk introduced the game with his beloved and familiar "Space...The Final Frontier" monologue, but sadly His Shatness made no more appearances. We sure would have liked to have Kirk, Spock and the gang play a role instead of a story involving generic characters working their way up the Starfleet chain.
As it is, it's an average enough tale (and going up the ladder of ships from frigate to dreadnaught ain't bad either), but it didn't grab us like we hoped. At least when you've finished saving space from the Klingons, the tables are turned and you can tear it up as some of the bad guys - a welcome acknowledgement to the evil genius in all of us.
After a brief training session, you're presented with a ship to command and immediately thrown into action. The heart of the game is, naturally, combat. Taking place in real time, placement is everything in these naval-esque battles. Your ship has a circle of independent shields and weapon placements, each of which have their own health, just like on the show.
Thus, you'll invariably be bobbing and weaving, desperately spinning your ship, trying to point whatever shields, phasers and photons still work in the direction of the bad guys. All the while, you're also trying to match up against your opponent's weaknesses. The weapons take awhile to recharge, so timing is key to prevent being turned into a mass of floating space debris. Battles are a bit unwieldy at first, simply because these giant craft feel sluggish, but you'll eventually get the hang of it.
Therein lies our biggest complaint with Assault - once you get the basics of fighting down pat, there's not a whole lot more to discover. While upgrade options are plentiful (you get some after each successful mission), the song remains the same from beginning to end. In addition, the controls don't feel nearly as responsive as we'd like, especially considering how crucial it is to nail your enemies in just the right spots at just the right moment.
While we tended to shoot first and ask questions later when presented with a problem, sometimes you'll need to summon your inner Picard (yeah, yeah, wrong series, but work with us here) and calm a situation down. Occasionally, that'll help you finish a mission much quicker and with a lot less damage to your vessel.