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Make It So: The 10 Best Star Trek Games in the Quadrant

Fans of the franchise know that Star Trek offers them a rich and diverse universe of content, from the thought-provoking original 1966 television series, to the growing library of novels, to the modern action-packed J.J. Abrams films. But video games have also long offered Star Trek fans a wealth of entertainment, and the history of Star Trek video games is just as diverse as the broader franchise, if not more so.

There has surely been some terrible software that carried the Star Trek name, but before we get all logical like a Vulcan and address the failures, let’s be optimistic like Humans and focus on the good stuff. Here are our Top 10 Star Trek games, spanning almost 25 years across multiple platforms. You can navigate the list using the Next/Previous buttons below, or jump directly to a page by clicking on the corresponding number.

10. Star Trek Online (2010) [1]

star-trek-online [1]

Despite some issues over the years, Star Trek Online is the game that finally gives players the chance to build their ship, crew, and skills, and then battle it out in an expanding universe against other fans. Even those who haven’t played MMOs in the past will want to check out Star Trek Online for its unique story, which reveals what happened in the “prime [12]” timeline of the Star Trek universe, after the events of the J.J. Abrams 2009 film altered history.

A switch [13] to a free-to-play model in early 2012 made the game more frustrating for its original fans, and ground combat is still the weakest part of the experience, but great space combat, story missions, graphics, and voice appearances from many Star Trek actors ensure Star Trek Online a solid spot in our Top 10 list.

9. Star Trek: Starfleet Command (1999) [14]

star trek starfleet command 1999 [15]

Starfleet Command, a starship-based operations and combat game, successfully adapted the popular Star Fleet Battles [16] board game and, as a result, brought the genre to a much broader audience. Players can join the fight on any one of six sides, including obvious choices such Federation, Klingon, and Romulan, as well as more mysterious options like the Gorn, Hyrdran Kingdom, and Lyran Star Empire.

Players can embark upon a solo campaign, in which they earn skills and accolades during missions that can be used to upgrade their ship and crew, fight quick skirmishes, or battle friends in groundbreaking multiplayer contests. Gameplay was complicated and demanding, with players forced to manage shields, weapons, crew, and unique special abilities all while in the heat of combat. For those who mastered the mechanics, however, Starfleet Command offered a rewarding experience for countless ship captains.

The game, and its sequels, spawned a huge community that produced countless mods and enhancements, making the Starfleet Command series still enjoyable and playable even today.

8. Star Trek: The Next Generation – Birth of the Federation (1999) [17]

star trek birth of the federation [17]

An absolutely epic 4X turn-based strategy game, Birth of the Federation gave players control of one of the Alpha Quadrant’s major races and tasked them with managing a vast empire, including diplomacy, exploration, resource management, and combat. Featuring turn-based 3D combat sequences and huge 2D star maps, this was the Master of Orion II [18]-like game that Star Trek fans had been waiting for.

The game was far from perfect, unfortunately, with questionable AI and a nagging bug that caused the game engine to become increasingly slower the longer a game lasted. The lack of The Original Series ships during the early phases of the game (due to the fact that developer MicroProse only held the license to The Next Generation) was also disappointing. But, at its core, Birth of the Federation was an absolute blast to play, with a cool LCARS interface, authentic music, and mechanics that finally gave Star Trek fans craving a deep and fulfilling strategy game something to get excited about.

7. Star Trek: Armada (2000) [19]

star trek armada [19]

If Birth of the Federation was the Star Trek game turn-based fans were dying for, then Armada was the franchise’s answer to the wishes of real-time strategy fans. Set in The Next Generation era, Armada let players assume control of the fleets of the Federation, Klingons, Romulans, and Borg, and battle it out in a range of conflicts from small tactical skirmishes to huge fleet clashes with hundreds of ships. The game featured a traditional RTS single-player campaign with a variety of mission types, as well as single- and multi-player free play modes that let players start from scratch on huge maps filled with resources, wormholes, and enemies.

Great 3D visuals, music, and voice acting from series regulars like Patrick Stewart, Michael Dorn, and Denise Crosby gave the game a polished Star Trek feel. The gameplay didn’t break any new ground in the RTS genre, but it gave fans a unique new way to experience the Star Trek universe. A sequel, Star Trek: Armada II [20], was released in 2001. It featured slightly improved graphics with a new engine capable of true “3D” Z-axis ship movement, new races, tweaked mechanics, and a new story.

6. Star Trek: Klingon Academy (2000) [21]

klingon academy cover [21]

1997’s Starfleet Academy [22] made a lot of big promises about finally letting players take a seat in “the center chair,” but ultimately disappointed fans when the game was finally released. Although promising, Starfleet Academy missed the mark with subpar graphics, limited ship options, and buggy controls. Luckily, Klingon Academy arrived a few years later to fix the majority of Starfleet Academy‘s mistakes, although instead of sitting in the polished chair of a Federation cruiser, players now found themselves in command of a fearsome Bird of Prey as a Klingon warrior.

Klingon Academy sported significantly improved graphics — including fully destructible ship models that let players blow Federation dogs apart piece by piece — and much more varied ship types and weapons. Incredible performances from Christopher Plummer and David Warner, who reprised their roles as General Chang and Chancellor Gorkon from Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country [23], and a great soundtrack were icing on the gagh [24]. While the Klingons are a fascinating race and provide a great backdrop for Klingon Academy’s story, the only regret we have is that Starfleet Academy wasn’t this good. I mean, just check out this trailer [25], which looks incredible even today.

Looking for more of that Klingon Academy feel? Check out the Klingon Academy II mod [26] for Star Trek Armada II.

5. Star Trek: The Next Generation – A Final Unity (1995) [27]

star trek tng a final unity [27]

Of all the Star Trek games on this list except for one, which we’ll get to shortly, A Final Unity best captures the spirit of the franchise. With beautifully rendered graphics and voice acting from the entire cast, players guide the crew of the Enterprise-D through a story that fits perfectly with the tone of Star Trek: The Next Generation. The Enterprise must intervene to stop a war, find clues left behind by an ancient civilization, and truly explore ‘strange new worlds.’

The gameplay is mostly linear, but players are free to take their time exploring the Enterprise, conversing with the crew, and even visiting the holodeck. The game deftly combines aspects of adventure, puzzle, and strategy games via challenging away missions and real-time 3D space combat, and players are rewarded for completing missions with great looking (for the time) 3D-rendered cutscenes. By the time the ending credits roll, you’ll feel like you’ve just lived through an episode of The Next Generation.

4. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – The Fallen (2000) [28]

star trek deep space nine the fallen [28]

Fans of the series know that Deep Space Nine offered arguably the most interesting setting of any Star Trek show, and The Fallen gives players a chance to explore this strange, mystical, and dangerous world. Set near the end of Season Six, players must guide members of the DS9 crew as they try desperately to prevent the Cardassians from obtaining a newly re-discovered and powerful Orb, one that could destroy Bajor and give them ultimate control over the quadrant.

The game is actually three games in one, as players can choose to play as Sisko, Kira, or Worf, with each character offering different perspectives (via unique levels) on the overall story. Major cast members (with the unfortunate absence of Avery Brooks) lend their voices to the game, giving this third-person adventure and shooter a truly authentic feel. The Fallen also used the Unreal Engine, making it one of the best looking games at the time of its launch, and eliciting praise [29] from critics and gamers alike.

3. Star Trek: Bridge Commander (2002) [30]

star trek bridge commander [30]

It took a few years, but Star Trek fans finally got the Federation-based starship combat sim they had hoped for with Starfleet Academy. Made by Totally Games [31], the same folks who brought us our favorite Star Wars games [32]Bridge Commander thrust the player into command of Galaxy-class USS Dauntless after the captain is killed during an away mission gone bad. When stars start going supernova without warning, the player is sent by Starfleet to investigate, revealing a conspiracy that threatens to destroy the Federation.

Players eventually upgrade to a Sovereign-class ship and are tasked with uncovering the mystery through exploration, diplomacy, and combat, with the latter being where the game really excels. Players can choose to give orders to various bridge crew members (raise shields, fire at will, divert emergency power to engines, etc.) or take direct control of the ship via an exterior camera view. But don’t let this direct control mode fool you into thinking you’re involved in a starfighter dogfight. These are massive capital ships, and they feel like it, with slow turn rates and devastating broadsides when multiple phaser arrays line up. Bridge Commander really captured the feel of capital ship combat in a way that few other games ever have.

In addition to the story, which plays out as a series of overarching “episodes,” players can pilot a wide variety of other ships in single- or multi-player skirmish mode. A dedicated community [33] has also produced countless mods and add-ons to the game, including new ships like those from the J. J. Abrams Star Trek films, and a group of fans are actively building their own spiritual sequel to the game, called Star Trek: Excalibur [34].

2. Star Trek: Voyager – Elite Force (2000) [35]

star trek voyager elite force [35]

There have been so many terrible games that fans played anyway just because they had something to do with Star Trek that it was a nice change to get a game that could stand on its own, with the Star Trek license acting as just icing on the cake. Elite Force was a surprisingly good first person shooter set on the USS Voyager during the show’s sixth season. The player assumes the role of Ensign Alex Munro, a member of the new Hazard Team, an elite security and special operations force formed to deal with the increasingly unusual and hostile environment of the Delta Quadrant. When Voyager is unexpectedly transported to an alien ship graveyard, Hazard Team is sent to investigate the situation with the hope of finding a means of escape before the ship’s power and resources are drained.

Players explore mysterious derelict ships, fight marauding aliens, defend the decks of Voyager, and try to figure out who or what is holding the ship in this increasingly desperate wasteland. With great graphics, an intriguing story, voice acting from all of Voyager‘s main cast, and rock-solid gameplay, Elite Force was a commercial and critical hit. A sequel, Elite Force II [36], was released in 2003, and expanded the role of Hazard Team to the Enterprise-E after Voyager’s return to the Alpha Quadrant.

1. Star Trek: 25th Anniversary & Judgment Rites (1992/1993) [37]

star trek 25th anniversary bridge [37]

For any self-respecting Star Trek fan, our number one Star Trek game should come as no surprise. Although technically two separate games, we feel that players should experience the entirety of 25th Anniversary and Judgment Rites together. A combination of point-and-click adventure with space exploration and combat, these two games made players feel like a part of Star Trek for the first time. Far more advanced than the console games that shared its name, Star Trek: 25th Anniversary and its sequel each featured missions broken up into “episodes” that gave players a glimpse of the final two years of the Enterprise’s five-year mission.

With plots provided by some of the original series’ writers, beautifully detailed graphics, and fantastic voice acting from the full cast (on the CD-ROM editions), fans immediately felt right at home with the games’ atmosphere. The banter between characters is spot-on and there are multiple ways to complete each mission, some via the use of force that will earn Kirk and crew a reprimand from Starfleet following the mission’s completion. There’s even a redshirt [38] who, if you’re not careful with your choices, will meet his end during each away mission.

The games also featured a unique and memorable copy protection system that relied on a star map [39], found only in the authentic games’ manuals, to successfully navigate to the next mission. Failure to warp to the correct planet would result in increasingly difficult space combat engagements with Klingon and Romulan vessels, until the player was eventually outmatched and destroyed.

If forced to choose, Judgement Rites is the better of the two games, featuring slightly improved graphics and more complex storylines. It’s also notable as the last appearance of DeForest Kelley [40] as Dr. McCoy before his death, giving it a special place in the hearts of Star Trek fans. But, as mentioned, both games are best played together in order to fully appreciate this masterpiece of storytelling and game design.

star trek insignia

Do you hate a game on this list like the Ferengi hate charity? Or did we miss a classic that deserves a spot here? Let us know in the comments!

When you’re done, check out our other Top 10 game lists: