(written from a Production point of view)
It features the voices of all the original cast of the show, in hundreds of hours of recorded dialog. The script was created specifically for this game, and was overseen by regular TNG writer Naren Shankar. This game bears some similarities to another PC game, Star Trek: 25th Anniversary.
The gameplay structure is divided into two distinct sections: aboard the USS Enterprise-D, and on away missions, both of which use the mouse as the primary means of interaction with the interface.
The game progresses in a linear fashion. Though there are some choices you can make which will affect the outcome, and some of them are indeed remembered throughout the game, it is always so that either the overall repercussions are minor, or it ends up in a game over (this particularly is very rare).
There are three difficulty levels: Ensign, Lieutenant, and Captain, in progressing order of difficulty. The difference lies in combat with other ships, as well as (according to the manual) how helpful the advice given by the crew will be. Also, the away team selection is affected by this: in ensign difficulty, the team is selected automatically and you can't change it; in lieutenant, there is an automatic team pre-selection but you can change it; in captain, you have to assemble an away team manually.
While on board the Enterprise, you can go to one of several stations or locations, and each one has a specific function.
The player begins the game on the bridge. There it is possible to:
- get advice from Riker, Data, Troi, or Worf;
- talk to the Garidian refugees in the conference lounge;
- contact Starfleet;
- hail other ships, space stations or planets;
- take the turbolift to other places available in the game (see below);
- access one of the available stations; The stations available on the bridge are:
The computer library is a LCARS interface that contains background information on the Enterprise, personnel files, planets, and star systems, as well as astronomy and the universe. Its contents are not static; its database is constantly appended by the information and analysis of subjects encountered on the course of the mission, tricorder readings, as well as the mission and captain's logs.
In astrogation, you can indeed go wherever you want in the Kridnar navigation block (the area where the game takes place), but there is almost nothing to do anywhere except in the next destination predefined by the game's linear story.
The tactical station's controls allow for controlling the weapon systems and selecting of a wide range of maneuvers. Ship-to-ship combat occurs in real time. Controls can either be operated manually or delegated to Lieutenant Worf (something that most players did due to its difficulty).
Here an away team and supporting equipment (tricorders, phasers, etc.) can be assembled and beamed out, if there is a valid location within transporter range.
In engineering, the power levels can be adjusted and repairs to damaged ship systems allocated. Control of this station can be either be manual or delegated to Lieutenant Commander La Forge.
Here all the cut scenes already displayed up to the current point in the game can be reviewed. A tour of the Enterprise is also available.
There are missions in away locations, such as planets or other life-supporting structures. The away team can be selected (except on the Ensign difficulty level, where it is preselected by the game) at the transporter room.
Gameplay in this part of the game is very similar to other "point-and-click" adventure games: you select the type of action you want by clicking in its respective icon (eyes to look, balloon to speak, hand to use), and then click on the object on the screen where you want the action done. It is also possible to take items, carry them, and use them in other items.
At any time you can return to the ship by clicking on the communicator icon, unless there is something blocking the transporter signal, or if the team is out of transporter range.
The beginning is just like a TV show episode: you are presented with a prologue at first, which is a CGI-rendered cut scene, ending in a tense situation. Then the classic Next Generation opening animation plays ("Space, the final frontier..." and so forth, voiced by Patrick Stewart). After that, the game actually begins. You see the bridge, and on the corner of the screen the "episode" title is displayed: "A Final Unity".
At the beginning of the game, the Enterprise encounters a small Garidian ship which has taken damage fleeing from a Warbird of the same government (allies of the Romulans). Picard hails the pursuing Warbird, and its commander, Pentara informs Picard that the people on-board are dangerous political subversives. From here, the player can either talk Pentara down, or attack and destroy the Warbird. The people aboard the scout ship turn out to be rebels in search of the Fifth Scroll, a missing part of the code of laws handed down by the Lawgiver, the founder of Garidian society. If found, the Fifth Scroll would foment a rebellion of the plebeian class against the ruling patricians. The refugees T'Bak, Lucana, and Avakar (who later turns out to be Pentara's son) implore Captain Picard to search out for the Vulcan anthropologist Shanok, who has researched Garidian society and the ancient Chodak Empire. Whether the player agrees to help or not, there is no time to do this before a distress call is received.
Mertens Orbital Station
The mission objective is to prevent the Mertens Orbital Station's experimental reactor from going critical and to identify the source of the attack. Commander Riker and the away team assist the crew of the station, repairing the life support and stabilizing the reactor to prevent massive damage to the nearby planet, Cymkoe IV, while still allowing the research to continue. In the process, they discover an unknown alien "probe", or more accurately an unmanned combat space vehicle, much later discovered to be Chodak in origin. Captain Picard mentions a briefing he has just received from Starfleet Command, to the effect that the Mertens Orbital Station, though primarily concerned with applied physics, and power generation technology, also had a classified mission to conduct research on new ways to detect cloaked vessels. It is also possible, but not required, to repair the station's holographic imaging table and thereby get information from the automatic battle damage assessment, thus discovering that the attack by the unidentified probe appears to have been very carefully planned to be surgical in nature and to destroy only one particular research wing, while minimizing casualties and giving sufficient time to evacuate. In hindsight, the motivation for the Chodak to carry out the attack must have been to preempt the possibility that the Federation would inadvertently develop something that could see through the Chodak equivalent of cloaking technology, their deceptive "chameleon field."
(The player can also simply jettison the reactor core, saving the station crew members and the planet, but earning a mild rebuke from Starfleet for causing a major setback to the research. If the player did not also repair the life support, this results in the death of most of the station crew, and a stronger rebuke)
After the tragedy was averted at Mertens, Captain Picard visits Shanok on Horst III, the only known Chodak archaeological site in Federation space. Shanok is unable to assist the Garidian refugees and refuses Picard's request to visit the planet.
After patrolling the Romulan Neutral Zone in the Ruinore sector, Starfleet asks the Enterprise to visit a large nature preserve on the planet Morassia, to discover the whereabouts of a Federation scientist and to update Morassia's admission to the Federation. After several examinations on the planet, the away team discovers the scientist, and that she was incapacitated by another scientist who has been illegally importing exotic creatures. One of these creatures has escaped, and attacked and killed several staff members and animals by draining their neural energy, and the away team are forced to subdue it.
After the away team returns to the Enterprise, T'Bak reveals that the creature in question was in fact native to the Garidian homeworld, until it was hunted to extinction. He surmises that the Lawgiver took some of the creatures in question to the colony world he founded after being deposed.
The rogue scientist's supplier is a Ferengi named Aramut, who upon being caught gives up the scientist to save his own skin, and also tells Picard that the Romulans are refitting their warbirds to achieve high speed at the expense of weaponry and cloaking devices, and that the animals were from a planet called Frigis.
Frigis proves to be the site of a Garidian colony founded by the Lawgiver after his departure from Garid. It is also a previously unknown Chodak site; the inhabitants are using a Chodak "chameleon field" to disguise the planet so that it appears lifeless from space. After an uneasy encounter with Chancellor Laraq, Riker and the away team finally earn the trust of the chancellor by helping several feuding religious sects with certain problems they had. Riker then discovers the location of the Fifth Scroll and succeeds in returning it to the Enterprise. After the away team returns, Captain Pentara arrives in her Warbird (she will still appear if her original Warbird was destroyed, though show signs of severe injuries) with orders to destroy the Fifth Scroll, but Avakar manages to talk her down, and she agrees to return to Garid with the rebels, ready to confront the patrician class over centuries of deception.
(If the player is insufficiently careful, the Fifth Scroll is destroyed by automated defense mechanisms before it can be retrieved. The refugees, heartbroken, return to Garid empty-handed. This does not affect the overall outcome of the game, other than a few lines of dialogue in the last mission being different.)
Romulan invasion of the Federation
Almost immediately after the mission to Frigis, Romulan forces invade Federation territory and destroy several outposts along the Federation side of the Neutral Zone. The Enterprise is then ordered by Starfleet Command to report to Commander Chan at Outpost 543. Chan orders Picard to defend various points in the sector. The Romulans attempt to overrun the sector and destroy Comm Relay 543, the USS Ayers, and eventually Outpost 543. The only bright spot in the sector is the Klingon ship Bortas. Captain Ky'Dra of the Bortas is able to capture a Romulan ship and interrogate the crew to learn that the Romulans are searching for the Unity Device.
(It is possible to defend all these locations and the USS Ayers by simply engaging all Warbirds met in the sector and winning, or the player can let them be destroyed.)
Return to Frigis
After learning Outpost 543 has been destroyed and consulting with Starfleet, Chancellor Laraq contacts the Enterprise to request her help; a Romulan Warbird has entered the system. When the Enterprise arrives, she engages and destroys the Romulan Warbird. Laraq expresses his gratitude by giving Picard a Chodak encryption rod.
Around this time an unknown alien race invades Federation space and the Enterprise is dispatched to Yajj IV to intercept the new invaders. However, the Enterprise finds herself seriously outmatched by the dreadnought and two support vessels she faces and is forced to flee and the nearby Federation outpost is destroyed by the dreadnought despite landing several photon torpedo hits, which the dreadnought shrugs off with minimal damage.
(It is possible to take on the dreadnought and win, but it is certainly the game's most difficult "necessary" battle and you don't get the movie sequence if you win, and even if you flee as it seems you should, Admiral Williams will not admonish you and in fact notes that "even a Galaxy-class starship is no match for one of those dreadnoughts".)
Return to Horst III
When the Enterprise returns to Horst III, Shanok has left a repeating message telling visitors never to visit Horst III. Picard refuses Shanok's request, as Shanok refused Picard before, and beams with an away team to the planet. There they discover Chodak equipment and an astronomical phenomenon that points to an administrative region of the Chodak: Allanor.
Allanor is in the Romulan Neutral Zone, and Picard uses the excuse of scientific research as cover, although several crew members point out that the Romulans are not respecting the treaty with their incursion. After beaming down to Allanor, and after overcoming a series of difficulties related to the still-working automatic systems on the planet, they encounter the modern descendants of the Chodak, and their leader, Admiral Brodnack. The away team are able to persuade the Chodak to allow them to search the "Hall of records", and retrieve the location of the Unity Device from the computer using their encryption rod. Brodnack then interrupts and takes the same information, deleting it from the computer afterward. The away team escape and beam back to the Enterprise, warping away before a Romulan Warbird arrives.
(If the player follows a slightly different path in the negotiations with Brodnack, then the Chodak accompany the team to the Hall of records and take the Unity Device's location from the computer before you have a chance to retrieve it. It is still possible to find the location of the device by visiting the "Gombara pulsar", the rotation period of which was the basis of Chodak time units, and using this to decipher their star charts. However, the pulsar turns out to have become a black hole thirty years previously. Counselor Troi suggests traveling to a location thirty light years distance and observing the pulsar as it was seen before it became a black hole. This strategy will work, but since the only places from which such observations can be made are deep in Romulan territory, the player is likely to encounter several Warbirds along the way.)
The Unity Device
The Enterprise crew travels to the Thang sector of the Z'Tarnis Nebula, having discovered that this is the location of the Unity Device. After arriving at the device, the Enterprise sees the wreckage of Romulan and Chodak forces orbiting it. Pentara's Warbird shows up, and she informs Picard that the situation on Garid has deteriorated markedly (ironically, the situation will actually be worse if the scroll was retrieved, as it leads to Lucana forming a tyrannical new government which has executed many high-ranking patricians; on the other hand, if the scroll was destroyed it merely results in civil unrest). Assuming that her Warbird was not destroyed at the start of the game, Pentara warns Picard that the Unity Device wiped out the Romulan and Chodak fleets when they engaged each other, and surmises that the Device automatically destroys anything which fires weapons (Pentara deliberately neglects to mention this if her original Warbird was destroyed; either way, she no longer displays any injuries she may have had at Frigis). Moments later, the Chodak flagship arrives and Brodnack locks weapons on the Enterprise, but this is a trick, attempting to provoke the Enterprise into triggering the device's defenses. Captain Picard simply takes evasive maneuvers, and is able to follow the Chodak to the device.
(If the Enterprise instead opens fire on the Chodak, the Unity Device's automatic defenses destroy it and the game ends)
The Unity Device is not fully integrated with the time continuum and so the transporters are too dangerous to use. As a result, Captain Picard personally leads a team of Data, Worf, and Ensign Butler to the device in a shuttlecraft – even on Captain difficulty, there is no way to choose other personnel for this final away team. However, he is quickly separated from the others by a Chodak security system with superior technology, which has been programmed to confiscate his equipment and to beam the other away team members back to the Enterprise, without permitting anyone to return or to communicate with him. He soon finds Brodnack and Garidian Captain Pentara, who have just had similar experiences of losing communications and being forcibly separated from their subordinates. Now, all three commanders are required to face rigorous, dangerous automated tests to see who is "worthy" of controlling the Unity Device. Brodnack explains that the Unity Device is capable of changing reality on a vast scale, even to the point of "unmaking a galaxy".
Picard is eventually able to persuade them to work together to circumvent the tests, and they reach a mysterious stasis chamber containing a member of the Kábalan species, a race of telepaths that Brodnack explains were created by the ancient Chodak using the Unity Device. The Kábalan were apparently brought into existence to be perfect and impartial test administrators, and to perform psychological assessments aimed at uncovering anything that might mean a test subject was not suitable for their prospective role. The Kábalan first uses telepathic insight to ruthlessly expose the fears, doubts, and some of the innermost shameful secrets hidden by each of the three visitors – for example, the trouble in Picard's family, Picard's willingness to reveal secrets when he was being tortured and drugged by Gul Madred, Picard's helplessness when he was assimilated into Locutus and used to facilitate mass murder, Pentara's willingness to obey her orders by killing her own son, and Brodnack's killing of any Chodak who failed the tests he administered. The Kábalan asks all three what they would use the Device for, and assuming Picard is frank about the mistakes he has made in his life, declares them all equally worthy. Otherwise, he tells Pentara that her honesty in saying she wants to use it to make the Garidians a respected force in the galaxy proves her worthy. However, this is a trick and Pentara instead takes the place of the creature in the stasis chamber, leaving it up to the player as to whether she should be released. Whoever is left continues on to the Device's true Guardian, a gestalt entity composed of Chodak and several others. There is one final test: the Guardian tells them that a large Borg invasion fleet is on its way and will destroy the Federation, the Garidians, and the Chodak in less than two years. Picard is offered what appears to be a choice between only two alternatives – to destroy the Borg invasion fleet, or to completely exterminate all Borg. Brodnack and (if she is present) Pentara cannot agree on which choice to make, and so they reason that Picard must have the deciding vote. However, Picard recognizes that the entire situation is a test and declines to choose either alternative. Instead, he turns off the control panel without making a selection, and is commended by the Guardian for his wisdom.
(If the player attempts to destroy the Borg and/or their fleet, or Admiral Brodnack is no longer alive, the game's "bad" ending is triggered. This results in the Unity Device becoming unstable and incorrectly phasing out of reality, triggering a massive temporal explosion which obliterates the entire Z'Tarnis Nebula, along with the Enterprise and the Garidian Warbird)
The Guardian then reveals the true purpose of the Unity Device: it is only through the Guardian's intervention that reality is kept stable by the repair of what it describes as "rips." Individual members of the Guardian's consciousness are each responsible for "anchoring" a particular stretch of time and preventing catastrophic problems appearing in the continuum. Inspired by Picard's example, Brodnack accepts this responsibility and merges with the Guardian. The Unity Device then phases out of reality, and Picard is returned to the Enterprise.
The game takes place in the Star Trek universe, in the Kridnar navigation block. The initial stardate of 47111.1 and the final one of 47205.3 suggests that events occur during the seventh season of The Next Generation, in the time between episodes "Descent, Part II" and "Liaisons".
The game has many characters, both series regulars and new. All of them are voice-acted by professional actors in all their dialog. Majel Barrett also lends her voice to the Enterprise computer.
- Captain Jean-Luc Picard (voiced by Patrick Stewart)
- Commander William T. Riker (voiced by Jonathan Frakes)
- Lieutenant Commander Data (voiced by Brent Spiner)
- Lieutenant Commander Geordi La Forge (voiced by LeVar Burton)
- Lieutenant Worf (voiced by Michael Dorn)
- Counselor Deanna Troi (voiced by Marina Sirtis)
- Doctor Beverly Crusher (voiced by Gates McFadden)
- Ensign Tamara Butler (voiced by Cynthia Marcucci)
- Ensign Nils Carlstrom (voiced by Paul Mogg)
Other Federation characters
- Admiral Reddreck (voiced by Michael Mancuso)
- Admiral Williams (voiced by Deborah Sale Butler (as Deborah Sale)) - the Starfleet official to whom the Enterprise must report in this mission
- Chancellor Daenub (voiced by Phil Keller) - the head of state of Cymkoe IV, the Federation planet which the Mertens Orbital Station orbits
- Dr. Silas Griems (voiced by Sean Owens) - the chief of technology research in Mertens Orbital Station
- Shanok (voiced by Rob Jacobsen) - a noted Vulcan archeologist who has done a lot of research on the history of the region encompassed by the Kridnar navigation block and surrounding the Z'Tarnis nebula, and has studied in depth the ancient Chodak civilization
- Avakar (voiced by Colin Hussey)
- Captain Pentara (voiced by Suzy Berger) - the captain of the Garidian Warbird Asiram. She is sent on a mission across the Romulan Neutral Zone by the Garidian Council to capture the Garidian renegades Lucana, T'Bak, and her son Avakar. According to Worf, "Starfleet intelligence describes her as a capable, but unimaginative tactician"
- Chancellor Laraq (voiced by Andy Valvur)
- Lucana (voiced by Jeanne Sophia)
- T'Bak (voiced by Tom Silberkleit)
- Admiral Brodnak (voiced by Bill Krauss)
- Aramut (voiced by Joseph White) - a Ferengi trader, specializing in rare species animals trading
- Constable LLiksze (voiced by Deborah Sale) - the Morassian preserve administrator
- Optimator Two (voiced by Amanda Carrett)
- Madia (voiced by Linda Clements)
- Dr. Ana Benyt (voiced by Nancy Cole)
- Chan (voiced by Connie Hall)
- USS Enterprise deck reports (voiced by Robert Giedt, Lucija Kordic, and Jerome Paterno)
- Morassian computer (voiced by Madeleine Wild)
- Iydia (voiced by Roy Blumenfeld)
- Stamblyr (voiced by David Booth)
- Alien Captain (voiced by Rob Jacobsen)
- Alien Narrator / Gatekeeper (voiced by Andy Valvur)
- Ky'Dra (voiced by Michael J. West)
- Tyralak (voiced by Erol Otus)
- Nachyl (voiced by Brian A. Vouglas)
- Aelont (voiced by Tom Silberkleit)
- Tybok (voiced by Paul Silverman)
- Constable's Deputy (voiced by David McGrath)
- Mertens Orbital Station
- Unity Device
- Allanor - an uncharted planet planet located in the Federation-Romulan Neutral Zone. Later it is discovered to be a major Chodak archaeological site
- Cymkoe IV
- Frigis (also known as Shonoisho Epsilon VI) - an uncharted planet in Federation space. It is later discovered to be home to a colony of Garidian outcasts, as well as an important Chodak ruins site
- Horst III - a Class K planet in Federation space, and the place of a known Chodak archaeological site. The Vulcan archaeologist Shanok is known to be exploring the site, sponsored by the Federation Archaeological Survey
- Morassia - a Class M planet in Federation space, application for membership pending. It houses a massive biological reserve, divided into various biotopes. Each biotope is a self-contained habitat in a controlled environment. There are several rare animal and plant species in the reserve, both indigenous to Morassia and brought in from other planets
Chodak (Chodak at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works)
- An ancient galactic race that held an empire spanning the Alpha and Beta quadrants, 1,000,000-900,000 years before the Federation's founding. The ancient homeworld of the Chodak was called Allanor which was in the Romulan Neutral Zone. They were considered an extinct race.
- In 2370, the Enterprise-D encountered two Chodak remnants on a quest to find and restore the Unity Device. They were defeated by Jean-Luc Picard. It was revealed that the Unity Device had its own collective consciousness and could not be subjugated to serve again.
- David McGrath - Art Department Artist
- Paul Mogg - Composer / Sound Engineer / Sound Director
- Joseph White - Composer / Sound Designer
- The opening animation is almost exactly the same as the one in later The Next Generation seasons, but is entirely CGI-rendered. The differences amount to the following:
- Though the lines are the same, the recording of Patrick Stewart's voice used is different from the one in the TV series, and is probably recorded specifically for this game
- Majel Barrett is credited among the main cast as the voice of the Enterprise's computer, and the credit line at the very end of the sequence reads "an interactive adventure by Spectrum HoloByte"
- The final sequence of the opening, just before Enterprise goes to warp for the last time, is different from the one slightly-from-behind view used in the series. It starts from the top, camera facing downwards, so that we can see the entire top surface of the saucer section, with the bow facing the bottom of the screen. The camera rotates 180º and the Enterprise enters warp.
- The Chodak, an alien race created specifically for this game, also make appearances in the game adaptation of Star Trek Generations, Star Trek: The Next Generation - Birth of the Federation, and Star Trek: The Next Generation - Future's Past, each time with a slightly different depiction.
- Throughout the game, if the player is sufficiently absent from the game (for example, setting a course on the other side of the Krindar navigational block and going at Warp 1), crewmembers may discuss trivia relating to Season 6 and 7. For example, Beverly Crusher contacts the bridge and asks Captain Picard if he still wants to be in her theater play.
- Though more of a blooper, if Worf uses a medical tricorder on Commander Riker when he is wounded, he will incorrectly refer to his rank, saying "Captain Riker" is injured.
- While most of the game's artwork depicts Worf with his hair pulled back in a long ponytail, Worf's icon on the tactical screen depicts him with his earlier, shoulder-length hairstyle.
- The power delegation panel for main engineering made an appearance in the final page of the first issue of Star Trek: Countdown.
Running on modern systems
This game was made for the DOS operating system, and meant to run in hardware that is nowadays obsolete. This means that you may find many difficulties trying to run it on modern systems. However there are emulators capable of running this game with perfection.
It is possible, with difficulty, to run it effectively on Windows 95/98.
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. DOS32A is a much more compact DOS extender that is still in development. It 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.
This game can be run under Windows XP with the assistance of a piece of software called VDMSound. VDMSound is an application that enhances the Virtual DOS Machine by emulating older DOS hardware environment variables (such as SoundBlaster settings, VESA, and MSCDEX).
VDMSound can assist with running the installer and executing the game. There is also an "install.exe" replacement designed to allow install from the CD on WinXP but it is not needed if you run the install using VDMSound with the correct settings.
With the development of various open source DOS emulators like DOSBox, the game can now be successfully installed and played under Windows Vista and Windows 7.