Originally created 12/28/96

`Star Trek' fans can battle the Borg at home



Red alert!

That's right. The Borg are back in a new "Star Trek" movie.

Better make that two "Star Trek" movies.

As Capt. Jean-Luc Picard and the rest of the Enterprise crew take on those cybernetic menaces to the galaxy at the neighborhood multiplex, you can beat the Borg yourself on your home computer. "Star Trek: Borg," an interactive movie featuring an entirely different plot, was filmed alongside the new motion picture, and they were released simultaneously last month.

Unlike "Star Trek: First Contact," this Simon & Schuster Interactive film puts the fate of the galaxy in your hands, with no help from Picard or any of the other "Next Generation" characters featured on the big screen. It's up to you to make the right choices at each of the program's "decision points."

That doesn't mean resistance is futile. You get help from the one familiar face you encounter - that of Q, the incorrigible, mischievous and infuriatingly omnipotent alien portrayed on TV and in this program by John DeLancie. In fact, along with the impressive technical performance of this CD-ROM product, it is DeLancie's Q segments that make "Borg" so thoroughly enjoyable.

The program puts you in the shoes of Starfleet Cadet Qaylan Furlong, whose father was killed when the Borg destroyed his ship 10 years ago. The starship you find yourself on is heading into a new battle with the machinelike race bent on assimilating every living thing in its path. But because of your inexperience, Starfleet won't allow you to stay aboard and have a chance to avenge your father's death.

Enter Q, who does better than that. He takes you back in time, puts you on your father's ship and gives you the opportunity to save him - not to mention the United Federation of Planets.

Periodically, in the course of the film, an icon will signal a decision point. Make the right choice and the story proceeds. Make the wrong one and dire results follow, along with a scolding from Q, who then backs up the tale and gives you another chance. The key to success is judicious use of a special tricorder provided by Q that allows you to freeze the movie and request background from one of many "information points" you can click on. For example, you can learn to operate a piece of equipment before your life depends on knowing how (always a good idea).

Of course, it wouldn't be half the fun if you never made the wrong move and suffered the consequences. DeLancie is at his best when you give him reason to berate you, and if you never mess up, you never get to see the consequences. (Remember, the Borg don't simply kill their victims. They assimilate them into their collective.)

"Borg" contains 120 minutes of full-motion, full-frame video, original "Star Trek" footage filmed on the Paramount lot using the costumes, props and sets produced for the shows and films. Jonathan Frakes, the "Next Generation" actor who directed "First Contact," served as a consultant on "Borg" as the two were produced side by side. Fans will note, however, that the Borg here look the way they did on TV, not as they appear in "First Contact," where the time and budget of a major motion picture gave them a new, slicker look. Perhaps that's just as well, since for the most part, this story occurs during the same time frame as the TV battles with the Borg.

With "Borg," executive producer Keith Halper takes a technical leap beyond his last offering, "Star Trek: Klingon," an interactive video adventure exploring the world of another "Star Trek" adversary, the Klingons. In "Borg," the quality of the video is improved, as are the transitions that occur whenever the narrative is interrupted by an inquiry or a bad move by the user. Sound and picture seem more in synch, too.

There's plenty of action in "Borg," but, as in "Klingon," success doesn't depend on dexterity or hand/eye coordination. "Borg" makes you think your way out of trouble. And unlike the Borg themselves, it has an irresistible sense of humor.

Star Trek Interactive Games/

  • "Star Trek: Borg," with a suggested retail price of $59.95, is available for Windows 95 and Macintosh. A DOS version no longer is planned.
  • "Omnipedia." The long-awaited update of the CD-ROM encyclopedia of the "Star-Trek" universe is out. Copies of the disk, which now includes the "Voyager" series and developments in the film "Star Trek: Generations," are being mailed to registered "Omnipedia" owners. You can buy the new "Omnipedia" as part of a $29.95 Simon & Schuster Interactive gift pack that includes a Klingon language lab and "Next Generation" technical manual.
  • "Starfleet Academy." Although the animated portion of this 29-mission Interplay game, slated for release for Windows '95, Macintosh and Sony PlayStation platforms in April, was demonstrated last fall at a convention, two hours of video featuring William Shatner, Walter Koenig and George Takei were shot last week in Hollywood. "Starfleet Academy" promises to be the first and only "Star Trek" flight-simulation CD-ROM game.
  • "Generations." The animated Spectrum HoloByte game for Windows 95 based on the film that united "Star Trek's" generations is due out in March. The company plans to produce a game based on "First Contact" as well. Both feature the voices of the films' principal actors.
  • "Voyager." The newest "Star Trek" series, and the only one without a computer game, will be featured in "Star Trek: Voyager." The Windows 95 game, a production of Viacom New Media and Looking Glass Technologies, is due out early next year. It combines 3-D animation with the voices of the show's cast.