Star Trek: The Next Generation – A Final Unity
Star Trek: A Final Unity is the third in a series of Adventure Games based on the Star Trek universe, made for the PC in 1995. It marked the first Star Trek adventure game written about the Next Generation franchise, the first to be released only in a fully-voiced CD-ROM edition, and the first to feature "Super-VGA" graphics.
Unlike its Original Series-based predecessors - 25th Anniversary and Judgment Rites - A Final Unity is an entire self-contained story, built to resemble a single (very-)long episode in the series. The episode begins with the Enterprise encountering a ship fleeing Romulan space through the Romulan Neutral Zone into Federation space, pursued by a Romulan Warbird. After the Enterprise intervenes and sends the Romulans back whence they came, the rescued ship turns out to hold religious refugees who believe they have knowledge that could lead to the re-discovery of an ancient civilization that once spanned a major portion of the galaxy, and disappeared overnight some 10,000 years ago. The Enterprise then begins investigating their claims, and things quickly heat up.
Once again, the game's writers have followed the formula of Point and Click adventure missions interspersed with space-combat.
Away missions can include pretty much any of the regular crew-member from the Enterprise D, and this time you get to choose who comes along yourself. Making the correct choice of characters to bring to a mission can heavily influence how well or how easy the mission is going to go. The characters you bring on away missions also offer insightful advice, with how useful that advice is being based on the difficulty level, and whether the character actually has any expertise to contribute. Good diplomacy and defusing dangerous situations is once again critical, and losing any crew member results in an instant Game Over.
In space, combat is now done via various command posts that control the different systems on board the ship, from weapons to energy distribution, navigation and even tractor beams. Battles can be very difficult and very engrossing. These battles differ from previous games in that the arcade-like controls and flight mechanics have been replaced with a much more complex (and confusing) simulator of ship-to-ship combat, closer to the ones used in games like Star Trek: Bridge Commander.
Once again, pretty much the entire regular cast from the television show gave their voices to this game, with plenty of dialogue for all of them. The game successfully manages to capture the feel of an actual episode (or, more like, a multi-episode arc) in the series, right down to the Teaser at the beginning, the sounds and visuals, and of course the type of conflicts usually presented in Next Generation episodes. This should not be surprising, as much of the story and direction aspects were done by the creators and writers of The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine.
A Final Unity is also considered the last Star Trek adventure game to avert The Problem with Licensed Games, and is still remembered fondly. The next attempt resulted in Star Trek: Generations, a mediocre game based on a movie of the same name. This coincided with the general decline of the adventure-game genre as a whole. At the same time, the Star Trek videogame franchise began moving into more serious ship-to-ship and fleet-to-fleet combat simulations (with the occasional lower-quality adventure being released to a less receptive crowd).
Unfortunately for modern enthusiasts, it sits at that awkward transition point from Windows 3.1 to Windows 95 which means it doesn't run well even in DOSBox, and was hard to get running even at the time.
This work contains examples of the following tropes:
- Alien Geometries: Chodak architecture would make H.P. Lovecraft cringe in fear.
- Artificial Stupidity: Space combat is the biggest (and only) letdown of this game, with ships spinning wildly on the combat screen for no apparent reason, weaponry doesn't seem to work half the time, and gives no indication of when it actually does work. It's easy to get blown up and lose the game without even knowing how it happened. The quickest and easiest way to get through it is to let Worf take control of combat, where he makes the Enterprise spin around and corkscrew marginally less than the target ship does.
- Broken Aesop: Upon making the right choice for the final test to win the Unity Device, you as Picard rationalize it after the fact as obeying the Prime Directive. The keepers of the Unity Device congratulate you on having the wisdom not to use the device for petty ends. This essentially implies that because they believe in the very simple concept of non-interference, the relatively young Federation is wiser and more enlightened than the million year old Chodak race which actually built the Unity Device in the first place, when the real overall message of the game had so far been about friendship, co-operation, and mutual respect and trust between different and alien cultures.
- Colon Cancer: Star Trek: The Next Generation: A Final Unity.
- Deus Ex Machina: The Unity device is precisely this; a technological machine capable of doing literally anything. It could instantly destroy any fleet of ships that threatened it, and that is stated to be the least of its power. It can create sentient races from nothing, and even destroy (or create) an entire Galaxy if its owner so wished. Fortunately it is never seen to be used like this and essentially remains a MacGuffin.
- Fling a Light Into the Future: The Chodak rebels did this with the Unity Device, not because the Chodak empire was dying, but because they felt it SHOULD die, as it had become corrupt and evil. The Unity Device was the source of Chodak dominance and the rebels felt it was too powerful and dangerous to be used for such petty reasons.
- Meaningful Name: The game was made at the time The Next Generation was winding down after seven years on the air, and there was a lot of publicity surrounding the series finale. The title of the game, "A Final Unity", was themed around all of this.
- Only Smart People May Pass: The fifth scroll is housed in a room with a logic puzzle barring access to it.
- The Precursors: The Chodak. And you're not going to like them returning.
- Recycled Script: The basic storyline (right down to the search for the ancient Chodak) had previously been used in the two TNG console games (Future's Past for the Super Nintendo, and Echoes From The Past for the Sega Genesis). Both games came out a year before A Final Unity, and all three games were developed by the same company (Spectrum Holobyte). The missions in these earlier games were completely different to those seen in A Final Unity, and both of the console games were action shooters rather than point and click adventures. But still, a recycled story is a recycled story.
- Secret Test of Character: On the player. You'll need this at the very end. See Take a Third Option.
- Series Continuity Error: As much as the game really does manage to evoke the feel of the TNG television series, its utterly impossible to fit it into the continuity, as the stardates mentioned throughout the game indicate it as taking place over the course of the entire final season: the first stardate mentioned in the game, 47111.1, actually places it immediately after "Descent Part 2", and the final stardate mentioned in the game is after the one used in TNG's final episode. So unless the search for the Chodak was happening "around" the rest of the final season, and therefore we only get to see those relevant bits here, it otherwise becomes very tricky to figure out...
- Smug Snake: Captain Pentara slips into this role towards the end of the game, to her own detriment when she fails one of the many secret tests of character.
- Admiral Brodnak is also this, constantly overestimating himself and underestimating everyone else throughout his time interacting with you.
- Socrates: A test of how ready for enlightenment you are, requires you to admit that you truly know nothing.
- Take a Third Option: the only correct solution to the final dilemma in the game.
- The Problem with Licensed Games: Aside from Star Trek: Generations, the only TNG-based adventure to avert this trope.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Picard, Pentara and Brodnack each get one of these near the very end of the game, when being confronted by an alien who demands to know why they should be allowed to control the Unity Device.
- They Don't Make Them Like They Used To: Remnants of Chodak technology are said to be nearly a million years old, yet work like they are brand new after eons of disuse. Only some minor data corruption is seen. Geordie even comments on how improbable this is.
- Unwinnable by Design: Happens in the very last mission, if you either kill Admiral Brodnack, or fail to assist Brodnack and Pentara in crossing the chasm in the Unity Device.