MacSoft, $49. Minimum requirements: 180MHz PowerPC, 32MB RAM, Mac OS 7.6.1, CD-ROM. Recommended: 3D hardware acceleration. For more information, visit http://www.wizworks.com/macsoft/

Review by Andrew McClintock

Star Trek: Klingon Honor Guard, a MicroProse product via MacSoft, pits you as a warrior in training for the 'avwl' batlh, an elite group that protects the Klingon High Council in the world of Star Trek. You start the game in the middle of a training exercise, and quickly move into the real plot: save Chancellor Gowron by uncovering a sinister plot to overthrow the empire and mercilessly slaughtering the conspirators. The story is above par for your standard first-person shooter, and the well-known and liked Star Trek universe certainly helps draw the player in. As a Klingon warrior you get to use a varied arsenal of weapons, from your trusty D'k Tahg (a small blade you use for disemboweling your enemies or throwing into their backs) to the more impressive Bat'leth (the sword of honor, a traditional Klingon weapon). The game also includes energy weapons, from the standard disrupter pistol up to the Sith Har blaster and Particle Dispersal Cannon--although a true Klingon warrior must see the fear in his enemies' eyes before leaving his knife in their throat!

The Unreal engine, which on the PC side of things is notoriously buggy, powers the game; fortunately the Mac version did not live up to its previous billing. While the game did crash on us once, we had no problems with the program overall, other than the annoying hitch in the game when music loads from the CD. The graphics were excellent, but slow the game down a great deal on their highest setting, even on a machine well over the manufacturer's recommended specs. Speaking of the recommended specs, the game's box is a little misleading: a full install requires 265 MB of disk space; the game wouldn't let us boot on a machine with 80 MB of RAM until we had turned on virtual memory for several more megs; and the game was not as speedy as we had hoped on a 200Mhz 604e, both in gameplay and in startup, which takes quite a while.

The sound effects are very good however, drawing you into the Star Trek universe, and the musical score was blood pumping--while it lasted. There seem to be very few different soundtracks, and the game tended to freeze up when the sound tracks loaded. Your character spouts out colorful phrases after killing an opponent, increasing the chuckle factor a great deal.

The game's interface is obviously PC-derived, but is certainly playable if you have experience with other first-person shooters such as Quake or Duke Nukem that have been ported over as well. A particular complaint that this reviewer had (while not fatal) is the fact that the intro screens give you no way to bypass them quickly. In addition, the keyboard is practically useless for actual play because the movements are far too jerky to do anything with precision; when we switched to using the mouse to move, the game became immensely more playable. The default keyboard settings and mouse settings are typical for a first person shooter, and are not difficult to learn at all.

The game's AI is the best that this reviewer has seen on any shooter for the Mac; I normally play these games on their highest level, but I could barely get past the first level on this setting. Monsters dodge behind obstacles, and cartwheel away from your shots, and are generally good adversaries. Dropping the game down a notch increased the fun a great deal, but also kept up the challenge and the pace of the game--I've never had more fun being brutally castrated.

We were not able to give the multiplayer aspect of the game a try, however, the game does include bot matches, essentially practice arenas for mutliplayer play which pit you against computer AI opponents that behave roughly like human opponents in that they actively hunt you down.

Klingon Honor Guard is a fairly typical shooter in most regards, but with some good points--it has a better-than-average plot and an immersive environment. The gameplay is generally fast and fun, and the graphics are impressive if you have a machine that can support them.

 
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