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Video Game / Star Trek: Starfleet Command

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"Finally, a starship naval combat game worthy of the name Star Trek."
game blurb

A series of space combat/strategy games initially developed by Interplay Entertainment/Taldren and later by Activision that took Star Trek's Space Is an Ocean sensibilities and ran with them full-steam ahead. Initially inspired by the pen and paper/board game Star Fleet Battles during Interplay's time as developer. When Activision took over for Starfleet Command III, the game shifted from the period of The Original Series to the Next Generation era, and took an approach to the ships and gameplay that more reflected Trek Canon.

The first and second entries focus on conflicts from the various Star Fleet Battles campaigns, while Starfleet Command III is a prequel to Star Trek: Nemesis. The first and third games have been re-released through


  • 2-D Space: No Z-axis for you! The only concession is ships will go under and over each other to avoid collisions. This has no effect on gameplay.
  • Aborted Arc: Starfleet Command 2: Orion Pirates was originally intended to include campaigns for all the major empires fighting against the Andromedans, which were all dropped. Likely due to serious financial troubles faced by Interplay and Taldren at the time.
  • Aliens of London: The Hydrans.
  • Alternate Continuity: Starfleet Command III is set in the same 'Verse as Bridge Commander, Star Trek: Armada, Star Trek Away Team, and the Elite Force games. All also published by Activision). On the other hand, Starfleet Command I, II, and Orion Pirates are set in a variant continuity of the Star Fleet Battles pen and paper roleplaying game (there are a few things Star Fleet Battles aren't allowed to use that SFC has, such as ridge-headed Klingons, Excelsiors and Wrath of Khan-style uniforms, and conversely there is one thing Battles can use that SFC couldn't — the Kzinti).
  • All There in the Manual: The Sovereign's description connects the events of III to Star Trek: Bridge Commander.
  • Apocalypse How: Pops up occasionally, this being Star Trek and all.
  • Badass Boast: Delivered by the Captain Sulu during the opening of the second game.
    "This is a dark time for us all, but adversity breeds innovation, and the Federation will not fall without a fight."
  • Barrier Warrior: The Lyrans (That's pronounced Lear-uhns!) have the ESG field. Basically a ring of death that surrounds a Lyran ship and damages everything that gets too close, it's practically a death sentence if used against a smaller ship. Gets stupidly useful in ''Starfleet Command II''' and its expansion when dealing with carriers.
  • Beam Spam: The Ph G, or "Gatling Phaser" in Starfleet Command I and II. The entire purpose for the Pulse Phaser in II.
  • Big Bad: The Interstellar Concordium in II and the Romulans in III'. The various races each had their own troubles to contend with in Starfleet Command 1, but by far the greatest of the various threats was the Terran Empire's plans to destroy the Federation with a fleet of Planet Killers.
  • Big Damn Heroes: A few times in the first game. Quite a bit in III. There are also random missions where the player must come to the aid of another ship, starbase, or planet.
  • The Captain: The player, for the most part.
  • Cherry Tapping: Both subverted or played straight depending on the occasion. Fights, especially against larger ships, usually tend to end in massive alpha strikes.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Phasers A and B in Orion Pirates. The Ph A is colored blue and effective against shields, but piss against hull. The Ph B is colored red and devastating to an exposed ship hull, but won't do jack against shields.
  • Cool Starship: Too many to begin to list. Collectively, thousands of models have been made for these games from Star Trek to Futurama.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The USS Incursion and the technology behind it play a massive role in Starfleet Command III's plot.
  • Chekhov M.I.A.: The Organians.
  • Critical Existence Failure: Starfleet Command III
  • Crew of One: Played straight. In games one and three you can gather a crew, but they only affect your ships performance (a more skilled helmsman will make your ship handle better, etc.
  • Deadly Upgrade: The Phaser X in Orion Pirates is a more powerful, overloadable version of the Phaser 1.
  • Death In All Directions: And it works this time, too. Also the entire point of the ship's Self-Destruct system.
  • Dynamic Difficulty: The enemy ships you face in each mission are (most of the time) scaled to the strength of your ship(s). In SFC 1 the system works just about perfectly (though it does have a tendency to spawn fleets that are slightly too strong for your fleet when you're flying multiple ships, such as spawning three cruisers when you're flying a cruiser, a light cruiser and a destroyer, but in SFC 2, the difficulty is all over the bloody place, being perfectly happy to spawn a frigate and a freighter against your cruiser, battlecruiser and dreadnought, and dreadnoughts against your frigate. Part of this is to do with the fact that the game will sometimes pit you against the enemies that are already present on SFC 2's hex-based galaxy map (as on this map there are NPC ships flying around all over the galaxy flying missions of their own in the background), which can easily be much stronger or much weaker than your ship(s), instead of spawning fresh ones, but other times the computer simply (and inexcusably) gets it horribly wrong.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: Oh so many. Even the smallest frigate is capable of producing one given enough time.
  • The Empire: Plenty of actual Empires abound in both the Interplay and Activision continuities. But the in the trope's sense, the Interstellar Concordium is pretty much The Federation's Evil Twin.
  • Establishing Character Moment The Interstellar Concordium, upon arrival, demands half the galaxy surrender and cease hostilities with each other or they'll kill everyone present and everyone they've ever met.
  • Explosive Overclocking: Your ship can perform "High Energy Turns" in combat that have a random chance of frinxing up your ship but good. Effects include damage to your ships hull and engines, and your ship may "break down", as in literally coast to a stop in space and shut down completely for several seconds. During which, of course, you are totally defenseless.
    • Engine doubling" on Orion ships (which, as the name suggests, doubles the power output of the ship's engines) in the Orion Pirates expansion will damage the ship's engines over time.
    • The only weapon that can be destroyed by overloading it is the Hydran Fusion Beam, and only on "Suicide Overload" (it also has a normal "overload" mode, which cannot destroy the weapon). Photon Torpedoes, Disruptors, etc cannot destroy themselves no matter how many times they are fired on "overload", Sulu's line in the first game's tutorial about "overload" mode on photons causing "significantly more wear on the photon torpedo launcher" being purely for flavour.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: Players can warp around to their hearts' content in Starfleet Command III. Not so much in the first two.
  • The Federation: Of course.
  • Game Mod: Not nearly as many as Bridge Commander. But definitely present.
  • Gatling Good: The Ph G. It literally stands for Gatling Phaser. It's one of the weakest weapons of the game, however: When you consider that it fires three times per charge, and the maximum charge for any weapon is four, that means that this one phaser can fire twelve times almost in the blink of an eye before it's exhausted. And if that hits someone's bare hull...
  • Heroic Mime: A downplayed example where the player character speaks often, though usually only in the form of text on the screen.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight: Almost never. Whatever the situation, there is usually a way to come out alive if the player knows their ship well enough. In Starfleet Command III it is fully possible to destroy the Scimitar singlehandedly, in a light cruiser!!!
    • If you're playing a mod involving the Borg though, expect this trope full stop, unless you're rolling with a fleet of Excaliburs.
  • Knight Templar / Blood Knight: Again, the Interstellar Concordium, Starfleet Command II's Big Bad.
  • Late to the Tragedy: What kicks off the plot of Starfleet Command, and later Starfleet Command II.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: Many of the races can use missiles, but the Mirak specialize in them. That was until Orion Pirates upped the ante to levels of insanity never before dreamt with the MIRV. Essentially, it's one missile that splits into six, which is bad enough. But keep in mind, a ship can only guide so many missiles at once up to a maximum limit of 12, but as the six smaller missiles register as only one it is possible to fire up to 72 missiles at one target.
  • Mighty Glacier: Gorn ships, in general, are flying mountains with every weapon you can use in game pointing in every direction imaginable. You do not screw with a Gorn light cruiser unless you have backup, and forget it if theres a fleet of them.
  • Mirror Universe: The Federation plot in the first game has the player battling their mirror universe alternate and mirror Commodore Decker to prevent them from destroying the Federation with a legion of Doomsday Machines.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Mauler, Hellbore Cannon, Fusion Cannon, Gatling Phaser, Plasma Type R.
  • Nuke 'em: Orbital bombardment is a common mission objective. Also, Starfleet Command II has the player in one mission beam an away team down to an enemy base to plant a massive explosive device. Fully weaponized and Frickin Laser Beam'ed by the Hydrans with their Fusion Cannon.
  • The Plague: The Romulan campaign in Starfleet Command I revolves around checking the spread of a hideously contagious disease called "The Traveler's Death", which is essentially the Black Plague Recycled with a Gimmick.
  • Planar Shockwave: Everything above the fighter class generates one upon it's demise. A very cool one, too.
  • Ramming Always Works: Subverted, no it doesn't. Unless you're out of Nova Mines facing an army of Planet Killers, in which case you had better start your engines if you want to get out of there alive.
  • Shout-Out: One of the missions in the Romulan campaign is named "The Secret Of Romulan Fury". This is a shout out to a cancelled game called The Secret Of Vulcan Fury that was being developed by Interplay at the time.
  • Shows Damage: In the first game you'd start leaking glowy purple plasma trails. In the sequels, you'd see scorch marks, electrical cracklies, and bits of your ship on fire.
  • Simulation Game: Spaceflight/Naval combat
  • Space Compression: A massive offender here.
  • Space Is an Ocean: The game is built on this trope.
  • Space Pirates: The Orion Syndicate
  • Space Whales: More like Space Sharks. Things. Hideous killer death monster beasties. IN SPACE!. You get the picture.
  • Spiritual Successor: Star Trek Tactical Assault, developed by Bethesda Softworks, used much of the Starfleet Command formula. Meanwhile over on the XBOX 360/PC, Star Trek: Legacy also shared many elements with this series.
    • Starfleet Command 4 is being developed by Dynaverse, but priority is given to a Windows 7-adapted version of Empire at War, to better familiarize the current developers with the source code.
    • Spaceflight and space combat in Star Trek Online looks like it borrows quite a bit from Starfleet Command III. This is in no way a bad thing.
  • Standard Sci-Fi Fleet
  • Starfish Aliens: The Hydrans. Three armed, three legged, three gendered methane breathers... with plummy British accents. The Universal Translator must have an odd sense of humor.
  • Subsystem Damage: Your ship has multiple systems and weapons that can and will be damaged during combat. As you have a limited supply of repairs, a major part of the game is strategically repairing your ship to give you the best possible advantage. Unless you're playing Orion Pirates, in which case you're likely screwed no matter what if an "X-ship" is involved.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Target's hull is down to one point? ALPHA STRIKE.
  • Tim Taylor Technology: Usually justified by the fact that on average, not one of the systems on your ship will be functioning at their limits, ever. This is because you only have a limited amount of power that must be divided amongst dozens of subsystems at any given time. However, the Mauler in Orion Pirates takes this trope up to eleven, as unlike the other weapons it doesn't do fixed damage. The damage the Mauler does is based purely on your ships power output, and does greater or less damage accordingly.
  • Units Not to Scale: The little planets. Oy vey, the little planets!
    • Canon explanation - Strictly speaking Planets/Asteroids *are* to scale, Starships themselves are not. The ship models are immensely magnified by your ships computer as a balance between presenting a full view of the battlefield and keeping you apprised of important tactical information. That only planetary scale objects are present at 1:1 scale is also why those are the only things you can actually collide with. Slightly inconsistent in that the collision detection is based on the ship size in the interface, and that you cannot collide with Asteroid *bases* which are supposedly on actual asteroids, but can't be collided with either.
  • Unrealistic Black Hole: Blue funnels that blow up your ship if your engines can't boost you away. Since Space Is an Ocean, black holes are the whirlpools.
  • Unwinnable Training Simulation: The modding SDK for the first installment includes a copy of The Kobayashi Maru, which throws you against a total of 30 ships in four increasingly-sized waves. The mission scenario source code contains a flag which allows for an easy cheat.
  • Videogame Caring Potential: The Player's fleet, depending on whether or not they're only intended as meat shields. Captured ships as well.
  • Videogame Cruelty Potential:
    • So goddamn much. See that planet? BLOW IT UP. See that moon? BLOW IT UP. See that ship? STEAL IT AND FLY IT INTO A BLACK HOLE. Alternatively, you could simply drop a Borg Cube into the game and embark on a bloody, psychopathic rampage across the Milky Way, You Bastard!.
    • You can set your phasers for disabling strikes and knock out the enemy's engines. A gentle nudge with the tractor beam towards the nearest black hole, and kaboom. Even more dickishly, you can hold the disabled ship in front of you and blaze full speed aheard towards the sun. You may get a little crispy, but it's totally Worth It.
  • Wave-Motion Gun: The Mauler in Orion Pirates fits the trope to a T. In games one and two we have the Phaser 4 (Ph 4), which is an insanely powerful weapon that can only be mounted on space stations or planets.
  • We Come in Peace Shoot to Kill: See Video Game Cruelty Potential above.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist:
    • The Organians disappeared in the first game to bring back an enemy in Starfleet Command II that could force the major powers from the first game to unite, in an effort to prepare them to repel a massive invasion from the Andromeda galaxy that would have completely wiped them all out otherwise, had they not learned to put aside their differences for a common cause. At least that's what would have happened.
    • Said enemy, the Interstellar Concordium, themselves fit this trope. To paraphrase a Federation captain in the first mission in the ISC War of Pacification campaign, their goals (peace) are good, but their methods (forcibly destroying combatants ability to wage war) are rather questionable.
      Captain Sulu: They believe that only the military might of the Concordium can put an end to the wars still raging across our galaxy. Ironically, this skewed idea of peace creates even greater bloodshed.