Star Trek franchise is one of the most influential pop cultural products in the world. Thanks to the utopian vision of Gene Roddenberry, Star Trek inspired many innovations in science, as well as positive social behaviors. The first TV show simply referred to today as The Original Series had its premiere in 1966 on NBC. It aired for three seasons and introduced us to Captain Kirk, Spock and the rest of the iconic crew of the USS Enterprise.
Star Trek adventures then continued in other series like The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise, and the newest being Netflix’s Discovery which had its premiere last year. But besides the TV shows, the Star Trek universe was expanded through thirteen movies, with more on their way. Although Star Trek had its ups and downs over the years, the fandom always stayed faithful and believed in Roddenberry’s idea. There are numerous conventions dedicated to the franchise, and actors who portrayed some of the cult figures of the modern 20th-century culture like Patrick Stewart are proud of being a part of it.
And like all great franchises, Star Trek also inspired the gaming industry to develop new universes and adventures for fans to enjoy.
Star Trek Online
Although many would argue that Star Trek Online is nothing but a World of Warcraft with phasers (pointing at you Den of Geek!), it’s a real thrill in my book. This MMORPG developed by Cryptic Studios follows the timeline 30 years after the Star Trek: Nemesis movie. Released in 2010, the game first required a monthly fee to play, however, since 2012 it offers free-to-play access with some limitations, of course.
In the game, the destruction of Romulus we’ve seen in the J. J. Abrams reboot movie happened, and with the collapsed peace treaty between Klingons and Federation, the universe is in chaos. As though that wasn’t enough, Dominion and Borg are recovering and getting ready to turn into a serious threat once again. Later expansions will introduce other species we saw in the shows, like Species 8472, the Terran Empire, and the Hur’q.
Star Trek: The Next Generation – A Final Unity
It’s really arguable who the best captain in the Star Trek universe is, since they all have important roles in its development. However, I think that Captain Picard is always going to be slightly ahead of all the others. Maybe this is because of Patrick Stewart, or due to the fact that this is the last Star Trek project that Gene Roddenberry did in person before he died. Or maybe it’s because of the remarkable group of characters that make the Enterprise crew, like Data.
Star Trek: The Next Generation – A Final Unity may be outdated now when it comes to graphics, but the storytelling truly captured the essence of the show. Developed by Spectrum HoloByte and published in 1995, the game starts like an episode of TNG. While patrolling the Romulan neutral zone, the Enterprise intercepts a distress signal from the Garidian scout ship. After some banter with the Garidian warship that attacked the scout, Enterprise is able to beam the crew of the distressed ship on board. One member of the saved crew explains to Captain Picard that they were in search of the Fifth Scroll before their ship was attacked. This scroll can stop the war on Garid, and that was reason enough for Enterprise to give them a hand. During the exploration of systems, the Enterprise will discover that the scroll indicates the existence of a very powerful structure known as the Unity Device created by Chodak, an alien race.
The gameplay is linear and you will spend a lot of time talking, but it all seems like one long episode of The Next Generation. The complete cast of the show lended their voices to the characters they play, so the feel is more powerful once you start exploring and uncovering new clues. This is an adventure game, and you will have to solve puzzles in order to proceed, although responses by the NPCs depend on the choices you make.
Star Trek: Armada
Star Trek: Armada is a real-time strategy game developed by Activision and published in 2000 for Microsoft Windows. The game includes several factions you can choose to play: United Federation of Planets, the Klingon Empire, the Borg, and the Romulan Star Empire. The story follows the events in the Deep Space Nine, The Next Generation, and the movie Star Trek: Insurrection.
The plot takes place after the Dominion War, when the USS Premonition shows up from the future. Since the ship is attacked by the Borg, the Enterprise jumps to help. Captain Demming of the USS Premonition then tells Picard that in the future the Borg are going to invade the universe. From then on, the game starts branching to Romulans, Klingons, Borg, and the story turns into a race against time to prevent the Borg invasion and preserve some semblance of peace in the universe.
The interesting thing here is that we will get to go back in time with Enterprise, save Spock from being assimilated, and get to join forces with him to forge peace between Romulans and Klingons. Another fun part is that Picard will face off his Borg counterpart Lucutus after he is cloned in the Dominion facility.
Star Trek: Voyager – Elite Force
Star Trek: Voyager – Elite Force is the first FPS game of the ST universe, developed by Raven Software and published in 2000 for Microsoft Windows and Mac OS. In 2001, the game was also released for the PlayStation 2 by Majesco Entertainment.
The game is set in the Star Trek: Voyager universe, and the main protagonist is Ensign Alex Munro. After the holodeck training exercise, USS Voyager is attacked by an unidentified vessel and left stranded in the starship graveyard. In order to perform repairs, the Hazard Team, and Ensign Munro with it, are sent to one of the ships floating around in order to find out their location. After you meet Etherians, an alien species which transported to the same ship as your team, you will learn that a big space station called the Forge is draining all the power and preventing the repairs. From then on, the main mission is to find Isodesium and disable the Forge, while encountering the Borg and stopping a grander plan by the Vohrsoth to conquer the galaxy.
The characters from the Voyager TV show appear here voiced by the appropriate actors, but you will encounter new NPCs as well. Star Trek: Voyager – Elite Force was a success with 86 score on the Metacritic website. The sequel was released in 2003 and it took place aboard USS Enterprise-E after the events in the movie Star Trek: Nemesis.
Star Trek: Bridge Commander
If you thought that Star Trek Online was the first game to offer you the captain’s chair, then you were wrong. Star Trek: Bridge Commander is a space combat simulation game that will give you a true opportunity to issue orders and resolve situations, just like Kirk, Picard or Janeway do. Developed by Totally Games and published by Activision in 2002, the game will also feature some of the famous characters like Commander Data.
The plot starts off with an explosion of the star which almost destroyed USS Dauntless but killed its captain who was away on a mission. The player assumes the character of the Dauntless’ first officer who is now appointed the captain of the ship. The mission is to investigate what happened with the star and why it exploded. Later, the USS Dauntless’ crew will be assigned a new ship USS Sovereign which is actually the same as Enterprise-E. The perk, Data will be assigned to the ship’s crew to investigate some bug in the system.
The game is full of missions that help you discover what actually happened with the star that got your captain killed. You will use several modes to play the game, although the main ones are bridge view and tactical view. Star Trek: Bridge Commander was very well received with a score of 82 on the Metacritic website.
Explore new worlds and new civilizations
There are other games, like Star Trek: Starfleet Commander and Star Trek: Judgment Rites that deserve an honorable mention, but we had to make some tough choices when creating this list. Star Trek universe is a great inspiration for the gaming industry, since it can fit into any genre, even horror (remember those ear bugs from The Wrath of Khan movie or the Borg). However, it’s best when you have an opportunity to go on an away mission with your favorite captain and explore the mysteries of the charted and uncharted universe.