Review by Bubbagump
"A nifty expansion pack which finally lets you be the Orion pirates!"
Orion Pirates is an expansion pack for the fantastic Star Trek Starfleet Command II: Empires at War. Now does it live up to it's predecessor's greatness? Should you buy it? We shall see. Orion Pirates is good in the fact that you don't have to have Starfleet Command II to be able to play it. It's a complete stand alone game which finally allows you to play as the Orion Pirates. 8 deadly factions of pirates to be exact. There's not really that much difference between pirate faction except some of the weapons they use. The Beast Raider faction, which is based in Hydran territory, is more oft to use Hydran weapon technology, while the Wylde Fire, based in ISC space, will use ISC weapons. You are not just limited to playing as the pirates, as you can play as any of the 8 other major races, but the pirates are the only ones who get special missions that advance their story. The other races only get such missions as "Patrol" or "Scan". Not very exciting for them but this game isn't about them is it? It's all about the pirates. The game boasts 40 new missions for the cartels with a special campaign designed just for them. You can also choose to go and play in an online campaign of galactic supremecy in the Dynaverse mode. Lastly you can create your own battles in the skirmish mode, or do ready made battles such as one from the Wrath of Khan.
The graphics are rather spectacular. The ship models look very sharp and textured and some of the explosions are practically breathtaking. The only real drawback would be the damage models. It looks like what they did for damage was nothing more than smear yellow, orange and black over the hull in various locations. It's rather ugly and kind of detracts from it all but you get used to it. Space is nothing to hoot about either. It's standard space what do you expect? It's black with white dots. Though sometimes there are picturesque nebulas, planets or suns in the background.
The sound is actually pretty good. With some fine orchestral music, different for each race, it really gets you in the mood. There are voices for each race as well, all competently done. The phaser fire, torpedos firing everything just sounds superb.
Now we get into the nitty gritty, as it were. The control is somewhat complicated, what with all the different things you can do. But it's easily learnable in the numerous tutorials they provide. From charging up weapons, to raising shields, to launching shuttles, to charging up your ECM, etc etc etc. There are all menus and submenus for such things though, not to hard to navigate by the way, and all are activated with the click of the mouse. You also can click in the direction you want you ship to go. It's all set in 2D space so you click to the left, you go to the left. You click to the right, you go to the right. It's all fairly simple. You fire with the "Z" key but, of course, you have to wait for weapons to charge first. To go to red alert simply hit "r" and "g" to go to green. Easy stuff!
If you've played any of the Starfleet Command games before, you'll take to this like a fish in water. For the rest I would recommend a rental. It may be to deep for the casual gamer but for the hardcore Trekkie, it's fantastic.
OVERALL SCORE: 8/10
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 08/25/04
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