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Star Trek: The Next Generation - A Final Unity

Star Trek: The Next Generation - A Final Unity is a computer game by Spectrum HoloByte, based on the Star Trek universe.

The cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation reprise their roles, providing the voices of their respective characters.

Plot

While on routine patrol of the Romulan neutral zone, the Enterprise intercepts a distress signal from the crew of a Garidian scout ship, seeking asylum in Federation space. After a brief confrontation with the commander of a Garidian Warbird (similar in design to a Romulan D'deridex Warbird except white in color with a red starburst design on the nose), the crew of the scout ship is beamed aboard the Enterprise. One of the refugees mentions to Captain Picard that they are in search of the Lawgiver's legendary Fifth Scroll, which could aid in preventing war on Garid. Picard agrees to assist them, and the crew of the Enterprise sets out in search of clues to the location of the scroll.

After searching various star systems and completing several away missions, the crew of the Enterprise realizes that the scroll points to the existence of an enormous and powerful ancient structure, known as the Unity Device, that was created by the Chodak, an unknown alien race, during the peak of their civilization.

The storyline takes place around stardate 47111.1, according to the opening sequence of the game. This places the events between the first two episodes of the seventh season of the series, Descent, Part II and Liaisons. Because the non-canonical Chodak race reappear in the Star Trek: Generations game, it is considered a sort of sequel to A Final Unity.

Gameplay

Gameplay is mostly linear in nature, sometimes branching partially depending on choices made during various conversations.

Enterprise

Onboard the Enterprise, gameplay basically amounts to waiting until the ship arrives at its next destination, and occasionally conversing with various crewmembers for advice. There are various areas of the main bridge that can be interacted with to control the ship and consult with various people.

  • The conference lounge allows the player to ask advice from the Garidian refugees.
  • The Conn can be used to change the ship's destination and speed, though when a mission begins destination and speed are set automatically. The Navigator was considered practically optional and useless by the players since destinations can be programmed automatically, or directly ordered to Data. The player though, has the liberty to meddle around visiting bases, sectors and systems at will (imitating a false Elite-like freedom), off-story, but this will not affect anything and there is nothing to do to off-scenario places.
  • Various information on planets, alien species, and previous missions can be accessed from the Ops console, manned by Lt. Cmdr. Data.
  • The tactical console is manned by Lt. Worf. Accessing it automatically brings the ship to red alert status. During the occasional battle with an enemy ship, control of the tactical console can be delegated to Lt. Worf, or controlled by the player.

The turbolift allows for access to other areas of the ship.

  • From engineering, power levels can be adjusted and resources applied toward damaged systems can be designated. Control of engineering can be delegated to Lt. Cmdr. Geordi La Forge. Players could manipulate engineering to such a degree it was possible to cause a warp core breach or eject the warp core.
  • In the transporter room, an away team can be assembled and an inventory chosen, though each mission has an automatically assigned away team (except on "Captain" difficulty, where you can choose your own team and equipment).
  • On the holodeck, any previous cut scenes can be viewed, as well as a brief tutorial going over the various controls of the ship.

Although these elements attempted to enrich the pure-adventure game with some strategy and action flavour, the case was not so simple since they made the game too complex or difficult and the characters were assigned automatically to the tactical or engineering. In fact, these elements are there only for the player the meddle around and give a touch of realism. The only useful part of the bridge is the computer Database with encyclopedic information of the Star Trek universe, history, and general astronomy.

Away Missions

The majority of the gameplay takes place by controlling an away team on various space stations and alien worlds, which is the pure adventure game part of the game. The away team is selected by the player and is then controlled in a point-and-click manner by selecting the desired command from the interface in the lower area of the screen. Items in the inventory can be used to interact with the environment in much the same way.

As in all adventure games, inventory items are used to solve various puzzles and to allow interface with alien technology. Interaction with the environment, however, is fairly limited, and attempting to perform an action that is outside the game's boundaries results in the currently selected character to comment that they don't believe it would work. There is some variety however, to the comments and responses of the characters, depending on the combination the player chose, giving some realistic richness to the experience.

Upon completion of the away mission, the team is beamed up, and Enterprise awaits further orders or acts with the new information provided by the away mission.

Background

A Final Unity is one of the games under the now "classic" era of Star Trek Gaming. It wasn't plain sailing for A Final Unity, though. Originally the game was penned for a release shortly after Interplay's Star Trek: 25th Anniversary; 25th Anniversary was released at the end of 1992 and A Final Unity was supposed to be released in 1993, but it didn't make the projected release date.

However, A Final Unity was a benchmark game for its time, considering the hardware and programming limitations of mid-1990s computer game development. The cutscenes, along with the recreations of the characters, were critically hailed as some of the best renderings and motion video for a game of that year. In addition, the entire starring cast of the show and Majel Barrett, the voice of the computer, were hired to reprise their roles in voice-overs for the game. Although A Final Unity didn't commercially perform as well as Interplay's prior games from 1994, it did mark Spectrum HoloByte's entry into the gaming mind of the then small Star Trek gaming community. Spectrum Holobyte acquired Microprose shortly thereafter, and continued developing Star Trek games for years to come (under the Microprose name).

To deliver its technologically advanced gaming experience, A Final Unity officially requires a floating point coprocessor (FPU), perhaps due to the space combat portion of the game which uses texture-mapped real-time 3D graphics. DOS games usually made an FPU optional because the games either didn't use a significant amount of floating point arithmetic or just added some extra bonus features if the computer was equipped with one. A CPU without an FPU can perform floating-point arithmetic, but at a considerably slower rate because the instructions are emulated. As such, the game can be played without an FPU, but with reduced performance.

Playing on modern systems

A Final Unity is a DOS game, and is one of the later developed DOS games. It uses a DOS extender and, potentially, high resolution SVGA graphics based on SoftVideo fractal compression. And, it is a CD-ROM based title. The game is rather picky about what hardware and software combinations it will run on. This was true even under pure DOS at the time of its release. Playing the game on a system running Windows, especially an NT-based OS like Windows XP or Vista, is a tricky proposition.

One way to dramatically improve compatibility is to replace the "sttng.ovl" file's DOS4GW stub with DOS32A The method to replace the DOS4GW extender built into "sttng.ovl" is described in the DOS32A documentation on its web page (look under utility programs, SUNSYS bind utility). DOS32A is a drop in replacement for the old DOS4GW and is more compatible with modern hardware and operating systems. Also recommended is either DOSBOX or VDMSound, and the installer patch linked to below.

External links

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