Star Trek: Starfleet Command II: Empires at War
|Star Trek: Starfleet Command II: Empires at War|
|Developer(s)||Taldren/Dynaverse Gaming Association|
|Release date(s)||December 20, 2000|
|Genre(s)||Space flight simulator game, Real-time tactics|
|Mode(s)||Singleplayer and Multiplayer|
|Part of the article series on
Star Fleet Universe
|Star Fleet Battles|
|Federation and Empire|
|Prime Directive (role-playing game)|
|Star Fleet Battle Force|
|Star Trek: Starfleet Command|
|Star Trek: Starfleet Command II: Empires at War|
|Star Trek: Starfleet Command: Orion Pirates|
Star Trek Starfleet Command II: Empires at War is the sequel to Star Trek: Starfleet Command and the second in the series of 'real-time' space combat games, developed by Taldren, Inc. and published by Interplay. Following on from its popular predecessor, Starfleet Command II featured improved graphics including luminosity mapping, damage texturing, and shading, and new playable races in the form of the Interstellar Concordium and the Mirak Star League alongside the existing six races of Federation, Romulan, Klingon, Gorn, Lyran, and Hydran.
As a result of strong sales of Star Trek: Starfleet Command, Interplay announced that their division of 14 Degrees East would license out a multi-game contract to the newly created game developer, Taldren Inc., run by Erik Bethke (the lead designer of the original game). The first of these games would be the sequel to one of Interplay's best known Star Trek PC games: Starfleet Command.
Taldren gave the second outing of the Starfleet Command series a major overhaul with new graphics, new weapons systems, a completely updated music background, and voice acting from George Takei (Mr. Sulu from The Original Series). The most ambitious feature was the development of a hybrid engine to handle both peer-to-peer combat simulation and a client-server MMO world server for strategic battles, ship repair, and upgrades. These and other feature improvements made the game the closest of the series to its highly detailed board game predecessor Star Fleet Battles.
In 2001, a small development group composed of two fans of the game assumed maintenance duties. "KhoroMag", which is the combination of screen names for two fans of the game, Khoros and MagnumMan, received source code for the game after signing a contract with Taldren. This effort resulted in two official patches addressing over 150 bugs in the game, many of which were already known, and some of which were discovered by code review. This was a great success, allowing Taldren more developer time to focus on their next release Starfleet Command II: Orion Pirates.
Later in 2001, when Taldren California closed its doors, the non-profit organization the Dynaverse Gaming Association (who's parent company, XenoCorp Inc. is solely owned and operated by Frey Petermeier) took over running the online matchmaking services for Starfleet Command: Empires at War as well as continued development in the form of the Starlet Command II derivative Starfleet Command: Community Edition.
As of 2012, the DGA announced the open beta for Starfleet Command: Community Edition, as well as the possible development of Starfleet Command 4. The DGA owns the rights to the entire series of games, including Starfleet Command III.
The game features 2 different campaigns which can be played from the perspective of multiple races, each would take the form of several unique missions interspersed among routine non-story missions.
All of the eight races may play though a campaign involving the return of the Organians, whose departure was the catalyst for most of the events of the original Starfleet Command game. The Organians, wary of interspecies conflicts, return with a "galactic superpower," the Interstellar Concordium, who conduct a "war of pacification" by subjugating all other races into an enforced peace. In the missions, the player would attack ISC bases and sectors, eventually forging alliances with other races in order to push back the ISC. It is eventually revealed that the Organians orchestrated the entire ISC invasion in an effort to teach the empires (including the ISC) about how to unite against a common foe.
The Mirak, Lyran, Klingon, and Hydran races also had an alternative campaign involving a race to acquire artifacts belonging to an ancient race of telepaths. This campaign made no reference to the ISC war.
The game was to be followed up with a true sequel Starfleet Command Volume III which would have told the story of the invasion by the Andromedans, but this game was ultimately replaced by the TNG era Starfleet Command III.
A 'conquest' campaign was also included, where the player would simply compete to eliminate all other empires.
The game included a similar combat engine to its predecessor, but with improved stability and better graphics. Several movie versions of ships were included, all with Phaser-1s, (usually) a pair of Phaser-3s, (usually) rear-firing photons (a rarity in the game), more power systems, and marginally improved shielding. These ships tend to play badly against many of the more advanced ships in the game.
The hex-based 'virtual universe' was introduced in this game, and was also included in Starfleet Command III.
Some editions of the game shipped with a special bonus CD containing conceptual artwork for the game along with special MP3 files of the in-game music. One of the extra bonus MP3s, entitled 'The End of the Federation', is virtually identical to a piece of music called "Duel of the Fates" from the film Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, this was an error stemming from a joke file.
Notable gameplay changes from the previous version
- Almost all races were able to field fighters, instead of just one or two. This has a marked effect on gameplay, as it provides a new offensive weapon and more moving units.
- Capturing a vessel in a single player campaign or skirmish mission usually resulted in a ship being added to the players fleet for the duration of that mission (in the first game, a captured ship would simply attempt to disengage from the mission area).
- The ability to recruit officers was eliminated. As officers of higher ranks would have an positive effect on ship performance (and lower ranks had a negative effect), this had a noticeable effect on gameplay; for example, having an engineering officer of 'Veteran' rank resulted in repairs being accomplished quicker than an officer of 'Senior' rank (considered the baseline rank for effects on ship performance), and a 'Legendary' officer would improve repair times even further.
- The elite organizations from the first game were eliminated.
- Single player campaign games no longer ended when the final story mission was completed.
- Players could no longer purchase specialized versions of shuttlecraft at spacedock, they had to be converted during a mission, and would affect ship stores (for example, converting a shuttle into a scatterpack shuttle required six missiles from the missile rack stores of a ship, and a suicide shuttle required the use of a mine).
- Energy allocation could now be controlled by the player, and divided among propulsion, heavy weapons, shield reinforcement, tractor beams, and electronic warfare (in the first game, if a ship was attempting to use more energy that it was producing, the game would allocate energy automatically, without any player control).
- Bases could be placed on the map by the player.
- Bases could now be controlled by a player in certain mission types. Previously, all bases were computer controlled.
- Two forms of anti-missile defense were added, depending on the race selected. Empires that used missiles (the Federation, Klingons, and Mirak) received a system that worked similar to an anti-aircraft gun, while plasma races (Gorn, Romulans, and the ISC) received a special type of plasma torpedo that functioned in a similar manner.
- Commando (marine) ships were marked as 'special' in the game operating files, and could no longer be purchased in single player campaigns.
- Customization for some skirmish missions was taken to its logical conclusion: on the advanced setup screen, a player could choose which enemy and allied vessels would appear, and how they were equipped with things like missiles, marines, etc.
- The use of the new Dynaverse engine for single player campaigns also meant that if a player failed a mission, or did not complete a mission to their satisfaction, instead of being able to start a mission over from the debriefing screen, a player had to re-load a saved game instead.
- Persistent problems with the online universe meant that online dynaverse play wasn't available at launch. Although subsequent patching addressed many of these problems, Taldren and Interplay both failed to identify a monetization model that would have allowed for continuing maintenance of the first Star Trek MMO.
- For competitive matches, balance was not consistent across all common match settings ("BPV" and era, both affecting which ships are available for play).
- Starfleet Command's Multiplayer switched from Mplayer to Gamespy which was met with resentment by fans of the series.
- Starlance was the main influence behind the design of the Dynaverse, Starlance promised players a campaign similar to that Dynaverse for Starfleet Command 1, the campaign didn't last very long, and was shut down due to complications with running it.