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In focus: Star Trek: Tactical Assault (The final frontier)

Rantz Hoseley talks about making the most of DS and PSP hardware

Summary Interview Review Screens Videos Articles Tips  
Product: Star Trek: Tactical Assault | Genre: Action, Film/ TV tie- in, Strategy | Networking: wireless (adhoc)
For:   Also on: DSPSP
Star Trek: Tactical Assault DS, thumbnail 1
We've covered tactics and the placing the game in the Star Trek timeline, so in our final encounter, Star Trek: Tactical Assault creative director Rantz Hoseley talks about how the DS and PSP versions of the game were implemented.

"The last thing we wanted was for one of the versions to be the red-headed stepchild," he says. "We've all seen it - the crappy port version that's a case of 'well, it's better on the console F, so get it on that, because for console Z, they butchered it and didn't even bother to change the assets'. Really, why even bother?"

For that reason, one of the first things gamemaker Quicksilver did was look at the unique nature of the DS and PSP and see how these could be used to enhance gameplay.

The DS version of the game has plenty of touchscreen control

"For the DS, it's obviously the tactile nature of the touchscreen," Hoseley says. "We focused on making the player experience about being on the bridge, sitting in the helmsman seat like you're Sulu or Chekov."

This decision resulted in three tactical touchscreen menus; one for the engines, one for the shields and one for the weapons. "You've got the LCARS (Library Computer Access and Retrieval System) controls, right down to the running lights below the viewing screen," Hoseley points out.

For the PSP version, it's all about graphics and explosions

In terms of the PSP, the widescreen and graphics were the key feature. "Having hacked Sony's exporter, we discovering we could do things like having bump and specular mapping [cool graphical effects - Technical Ed], so it became obvious the way to go with the PSP was to stress the cinematic experience and push the visuals in the direction of the movies, with the flaming stumps from torn-off nacelles we've all seen in the movies," Hoseley enthuses.

Of course, the core mechanics and the missions are the same for each game. "If you want to, you can play each of them with the identical d-pad button configuration," Hoseley says. "It comes down to interface differences and, in the case of the DS making it that you could use the touchpad for everything if you wanted."

Head to head

Both games also share the same two-player multiplayer modes, which are accessed via each consoles' wi-fi connectivity. These include the four-on-four (including two AIs) Skirmish mode, and the Battlefest mode where each player begins with the weakest ship in their fleet. Once that ship is destroyed, you respawn in the next larger ship. This continues until the last ship, the Dreadnought. The last player standing wins. Fleets available include the Federation, Klingons, Romulan, Gorn, and Orion.

"The multiplayer modes are actually old school modes stemming back from earlier games we'd worked on where we felt like 'if we have multiplayer, we've gotta have these in'," Hoseley explains.

"All of us on the project had our pet items we insisting on getting in. The rest of the team members would smile and nod and just put it in, to make sure the sleep-deprived guy with the idea didn't go batty and start stalking the halls howling like Sulu in Amok Time. For our producer Cory Nelson, it was the multiplayer modes. For me, it was rumble pack support on the DS and the bump and specular mapping on the PSP. I can't remember off the top of my head whose nutty idea it was to add the option where if you're playing as the Klingon you can have the user interface in Klingon..."

And don't forget to check out our part one look at the genesis of Star Trek: Tactical Assault, and our part two overview of its tactics. The game's due out for PSP on 1st December and for DS on 22nd December.

Reviewer photo
Jon Jordan 25 November 2006
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