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Star Trek: Starfleet Command III is a Star Trek computer game published in 2002. When the game was originally published by Activision it would have normally run the course of all major PC titles, eventually ending up in the "Bargain Bin" after a year or so. However, Starfleet Command III, along with Star Trek: Elite Force II never got this opportunity due to the lawsuit which took place between Activision and Viacom in 2003 (the suit has since been resolved). Due to this, the game's price on the internet (even for used games) is very high, the last game released by Activision for Star Trek (Star Trek: Elite Force II) also suffered from the same lack of units available for selling in game stores.
Star Trek: Starfleet Command III was Activision's attempt to carry on the torch of the Star Trek: Starfleet Command series started by Interplay Entertainment in the late '90s. By this point in time the Starfleet Command series already had 3 games to its name, making Star Trek: Starfleet Command III the fourth, and last, of the titles to bear the name Star Trek: Starfleet Command.
It takes place in the Next Generation/Deep Space Nine/Voyager era, as opposed to the previous games in the series, which took place in the TOS movie era.
As of August 2007, Activision has officially ended online support for Starfleet Command III by deactivating the online access servers which allowed gamers to login and access the dynaverse servers. However, the Starfleet Command III community has obtained the access server files. They currently have an access server hosted at Dynaverse.net and it is completely independent from Activision.
Since the closure of developer Taldren, many fans of the series as well as ex-Taldren employees have been churning out new patches and mods to make the experience even better.
As noted above, and as mentioned in the opening introduction of the game (narrated by Patrick Stewart), the storyline of the game takes place "some time since the starship Voyager returned home". There is a peace between the United Federation of Planets and the Klingon Empire to the point of co-operation between the two intergalactic powers that extends to engineering projects, and it is at this point in the story we are introduced to the focal point of the storyline of the game.
The Klingon Empire and the United Federation of Planets has combined their efforts to design and build a starbase. This starbase, named "Unity One", is, however, special in that it utilizes new technology that is capable of detecting cloaked starships "far into the Neutral Zone".
Naturally, this is an unwelcome development by the Romulan Empire, who begin to plot and put into motion events to eliminate the threat presented by Unity One in typical Romulan fashion; by manipulating events and politics of the region to make it appear as if rogue elements of the Klingon Empire are attacking Federation outposts and planets, thus making the Romulan Empire look like a blameless bystander. this is achieved not only solely via political manipulation, but by the theft of Federation "Incursion technology" that, when a Romulan starship cloaks, the cloak itself projects a mirage of a predetermined vessel. Thus, a Romulan Warbird, when cloaked, will appear to be a Klingon Neg'hvar battlecruiser. However, the firing of Romulan weapons will betray the ruse, as it is not possible to disguise Romulan disruptor fire, nor the signature plasma torpedo heavy weapon. This detail even comes into play in a Romulan Empire mission, in which the player is instructed to "leave no survivors" due to this fact.
Eventually, the Romulan gambit pays off and Unity One is destroyed. The task of the player as the game progresses, is to begin in the service of the Klingon Empire, uncovering more and more of the plot line. This plot will take the player into the service of the Romulan Empire next, and then the Federation. In each set of missions for each empire, the player begins with the smallest of available ships of the "fast frigate" class. As the player progresses, prestige is earned with which the player can upgrade weaponry and/or purchase new ship classes.
Although the gameplay of Star Trek: Starfleet Command III attempts to retain the aspects which made the original SFC successful, there are voices which decry the "dumbed down" game dynamics represented in Star Trek: Starfleet Command III. One of the most striking changes, although certainly not the only one, over the old games, is the fact that all starships only have 4 shield "faces"; those of fore, aft, port and starboard, whereas in the original shield rules as drawn from the original table top game "Star Fleet Battles" were translated into 6 shield sides for the original SFC games, and thus much more true to the spirit of the game from which the Star Trek: Starfleet Command games were derived.
Another aspect that was a point of contention for Star Trek fans, was the fact that although the major races of the timeline were represented and had campaigns dedicated to them (those being Klingon, Romulan and United Federation of Planets), the game itself seemed to be incomplete, as the Borg Collective had no such campaign, yet were available to be played in the "Conquest mode". There have been third-party "fan generated" campaigns (mods) developed that can be added to the Star Trek: Starfleet Command III official game to rectify this oversight.
In addition to the simplification of the gameplay of Star Trek: Starfleet Command III, there have been a number of gripes regarding the game in the form of what appear to be "bugs" in the game code. For example, in any given scenario while playing in "Galactic Conquest" mode, one may enter battle and find the opposing race's ships either not there (thus forcing you to forfeit the encounter for a loss) or the enemy ships will spontaneously self-destruct, resulting in an automatic win.
In the campaigns, some missions have triggers that may not execute correctly, and will make the player have to leave the mission area and load a saved game to continue. The player is also capable of repairing their ship, even if they do not have enough money ("Prestige") to do so.
Another "bug" appears in the Borg Collective "Galactic Conquest" play (the only mode in which the Borg Collective can be played). If a player has a Borg "Cube" (A "BB" Battleship class) and adds one or more of the same class, the collision factor between these ships is so high as to be almost unavoidable. This results in massive damage to the ships in question and even the loss of said ships to the player. Thus, the collision detection of the game code itself is flawed, despite the presence of "repulsor tractors", which are designed to push ships away from the gigantic mass that is the Borg Cube. This tractor does not, however, always work, and even smaller ships than that of the Cube can be collided with and cause massive damage to the player's Cube even before main battle can commence.
None of these bugs were ever addressed in the one patch released by Activision/Taldren.