Old Game Tuesday – Star Trek: Birth of the Federation
Star Trek: Birth of the Federation (BOTF from here on out) is a turn-based 4X game based in the Star Trek: The Next Generation universe. A 4X game, if you are wondering, is a game where the goal is to explore, expand, exploit and exterminate. You scout and explore territory, where it’s space (as in this) or land (as in Civilization). You found colonies through various means, and take advantage of natural resources to build and improve them. Finally, you can war with your opponents if you’d rather win that way. Me, I’m always a good guy.
You have 5 main factions you can be in BOTF, including the Federation (duh), the Ferengi, the Cardassians, the Klingons, and the Romulans. Each has a set of advantages loosely based on their TNG portrayal (Federation are good diplomats, Romulans are sneaky) and there are random events that occur which are pulled from the series as well, like a Borg cube or the Crystalline Entity. You build colony ships, expand your empire, use diplomacy, and develop new technology. However, that tech never strays from what you find on TNG, with the devs sneaking in the Defiant class, as an example, because there was a crossover episode or two with DS9.
The game’s interface is pretty much what you’d expect from a 4x game of the era – clunky, lots of clicking and pop-up windows, icons that you aren’t sure what they mean. But you get used to it, and you weren’t exactly playing a 4X game without expecting some micromanagement. Each race had a color scheme specific to them, so the Federation had an LCARS analog, but in practice made playing games as the different races a bit annoying.
If you are a Star Trek fan at all, BOTF is one of the few games with the license worth playing. If you end up being bothered by the interface quirks, you can always go back to Stars!