Also available on Oculus Rift and HTC Vive
This review has to start with a shout out to my first officer and space-faring partner in crime, redHudson8. We met earlier this evening in a random game online, and we ended up forming a dynamic duo that a whole armada of Klingon warships couldn't hope to stop. With him at the helm and me in the captain's chair, no obstacle proved too much for our combined badassitude - not even a prepubescent tactical officer who enjoys shooting crippled allied science ships and occasionally has trouble following orders. This one's for you, Commander Hudson.
Bridge Crew is a very slow paced game for the most part, but don't let that fool you; despite being one of the slowest paced Star Trek game overall, it's definitely the most intense when things really kick into high gear. You can play either online with up to three other people or offline with AI crew members, but I strongly suggest the former; the AI can do the job decently well, and you can switch to and take control of an AI crew member whenever, but things definitely flow the best when you've got four humans with mics who can communicate and each perform their assigned tasks. You can play either Helm, Tactical, Engineering, or in the prestigious Captain's Chair. I love all four roles, and I really enjoying being captain, but honestly, tactical is probably my favorite.
The main campaign consists of five missions plus a prologue shakedown cruise. In addition to those primary missions, you can do some random "Ongoing Voyages" missions as either the game's main ship, USS Aegis, or - if you want a real challenge - play more difficult random missions as the original USS Enterprise. I've done the whole campaign and several random Aegis missions, but I've not yet played as the USS Enterprise, though I've heard that it's significantly more difficult than playing as the Aegis.
The campaign's story revolves around a Starfleet expedition into a region of space known as the Trench with the goal of finding a potential new world for the Vulcans to inhabit. Unfortunately, you find out that not only are there few possible candidate worlds but the Klingons also have a massive military presence in the region, posing a threat to the security of the United Federation of Planets. The campaign consists primarily of missions to disrupt or outright destroy Klingon operations in the Trench. Some involve more combat than others, and a couple missions can - potentially if you have a skilled captain and a competent crew - be completed while avoiding combat entirely.
I'll give you a basic break down of each station's main roles. Helm, obviously, steers the ship and controls the speed as well as setting courses in both impulse and warp. Tactical handles scans, shields, torpedoes, and phasers. Engineering handles power distribution; you've got a maximum of 10 power nodes to distribute between shield strength, phaser range, and maximum engine speed, each of which can hold a maximum of five nodes. You can also reroute power from one system to another for an extra boost above max, but that comes at a cost; it slowly deals damage to the power conduits, potentially crippling systems. The captain, as one would expect, coordinates the whole mission and crew. You can keep the local map pulled up on your left, keeping an eye on distance to and details about anomalies, enemies, and objectives to better command helm to set a particular heading or speed. On the right, you can look at either objective information or general ship status. The latter is helpful as it tells you how many torpedoes remain, shield status, hull integrity, and power distribution. There are two things that can be accessed by either helm, tactical, or engineering - the transporters and system intrusion. The former is obvious - beam people up - but the latter is most fitted to tactical and plays a crucial role in combat. Most enemies have four systems that can be scanned - weapons, shields, engineering, and communications. Once scanned, you can use system intrusion to temporarily disable that system, either stopping them in place, knocking out their weapons, keeping them from calling for back up, or matching your phasers to their shield frequency, allowing for shield penetration. It's important to note, however, that matching their shield frequency only allows your phasers to penetrate, not your photon torpedoes.
One of my favorite things about the game is that many missions have multiple ways to complete them as well as optional objectives. Do you go out of your way to save civilians from Klingons when your ship has sustained heavy damage, or do you allow them to be destroyed to allow your own ship time to escape? Do you destroy every Klingon between you and a communications relay, or do you try to approach will steal and disable the array without ever alerting the Klingons to your presence? Do you respect the Neutral Zone treaty with the Klingons and allow a Federation ship to be stranded in enemy space, or do you violate the treaty to save your compatriots, sparking a violent confrontation with the Klingons? These are the decisions that the captain has to make, and sometimes your choices are bad or worse with no real right answer.
Star Trek Bridge Crew is a damn brilliant game if you keep in mind its purpose. It's very much designed to be a multiplayer game, and that's really where it shines through the best, but the fact that they included a fully playable single player mode sends it from amazing to fucking incredible for me. It can take a few tries to get a truly great crew, but once you get a full crew where everyone knows basically what they're going and takes it seriously enough to do well, it's legitimately the best Star Trek experience I've ever had gaming as well as the best multiplayer gaming experience I've ever had. I've said for years that only Activision knows how to make a good Star Trek game, and while I still say they still have the potential to make the best Star Trek games, Ubisoft has proven that every now and then, they pull their heads out of their French asses and make something incredible. I'm not a fan of Ubisoft by any means, but in this case, they definitely fulfilled President Macron's pledge to Make Our Planet Great Again. #MOPGA
My Rating - 5 Neps
I'm Mr. Deck
And I like to play video games. I like to collect video games. I like to talk about video games, and I like to write about video games. During the day, I teach history at a high school in central North Carolina; during the night, I spend my spare time gaming. Then I write about it.