Dominion Wars is the latest addition to the Deep Space Nine universe. Although, the Deep Space Nine television franchise has certainly passed the way of the Next Generation and Voyager crews, Paramount is determined to mine this treasure trove for more material in other mediums. This is actually a good thing as Brent Spiner, who reprises the ever stoic android Data, has said that any further Star Trek motion pictures will not be possible because even with the miracles of modern makeup, he has a hard time fighting the effects of aging. Deep Space Nine was one of the darker aspects of the Star Trek universe. It was hailed by critics as the most interesting when it introduced the Dominion faction. Though much of the core audience had lost faith in the series, its last season, where creativity could run wild with the new Dominion characters, was lauded for its innovation; something current Trek fans complained about the Voyager crew.
There will be much in the way of comparison between Taldren's Starfleet Command series and this edition of Dominion Wars. Both aim to recreate the spectacular naval firefights between large behemoth capital ships in space. I can easily say though, even with the addition of six ships under your control in Dominion Wars, it is Starfleet Command that has the tactical advantage. Not only does it convey the rigors of running a capital ship better, its mere interface seems to exude the difficulties of keeping tabs on a ship of that size. Any player of Starfleet Command will understand that if you cannot even readily access the different aspects (Weapons, Energy Distribution, Damage, etc) you are doomed to abandon your ship prematurely. In Dominion Wars, you are also given a certain amount of credits to wield different style ships. Under each ship, you can place a certain type of commander, replete with unique special traits. It is this person who will do all the thinking for you while you use a relatively simple point and click command to control the larger scope of things. Ships come in different chassis sizes and you are able to add enhancements to the ships; levels of customization not present in Starfleet Command. In the later missions, it is the number of enhancements that will handily win your battles.
That seems to be the crux of the Dominion Wars though. It relies too much on technology. The 3D engine used to portray space is gorgeous and definitely very malleable. When the camera angles are set up properly, you get a cinematic awe found in epic games like Homeworld or more in line with Star Trek, the sweeping action on the television series itself. Most of the real emphasis on strategy is done by the AI captains themselves, so those looking to manage a capital ship, a la Starfleet Command, will be disappointed. The most disconcerting feature is the lack of any fleet formations. Without those, it seems like the whole game is geared towards you shepherding your captains to harm's way and mission objective points. Other than that, your actual overall strategic sense cannot contribute much. With that said, the developers have thrown in a plethora of enemies for you to defeat so as to generate more breathtaking cinema to alleviate the shallow tactical parts of the game itself.
I understand it is not fair to compare Dominion Wars to Starfleet Command. They deal with different subject matters altogether. However, what Dominion Wars does not borrow from Starfleet Command certainly hurts the depth that Deep Space Nine (the universe) is so famous for, in this title. Dominion Wars does borrow elements from titles like Star Trek: Away Team; albeit the wrong ones altogether. Its campaign structure is solidly linear and rigid. Whereas Away Team did not allow any of your characters to be killed, Dominion Wars allows all your captains to be killed but in the day and age of Deep Space Nine, they are miraculously rescued or resurrected for action again in subsequent missions. They also share the same problem with respects to multiplayer, again in different senses. Away Team had frustrating co-operative play. Dominion Wars has a limited skirmish only mode that isn't (for some reason) available in single player.
Finally, Dominion Wars is wrought with technical problems. I simply cannot list all the potential snags or debilitating crashes that you might encounter. As far as I can tell, there are numerous ways that the game, even with patches, will sour your experience. Dominion Wars clocked in with a lot of preview hype. People have said that its visual majesty will surely ensure it to be the strategic successor to Starfleet Command. I don't think that is the case at all. On the whole, it appears to be an action game more than a strategy game. And in light of that, it certainly has visual majesty, provided you are able to run it without a hitch. Those who were thwarted by Starfleet Command's complexity may be able to appreciate this. However, those veterans who wish to find another game similar or better than Starfleet Command, should definitely steer clear altogether.
With the power politics and expansive scope of Deep Space Nine, it certainly had the potentiality to combat, then popular, Babylon 5. Yet, Deep Space Nine's track record has been pretty dismal. The last title based on this setting was a FPS based on Unreal. It was without a doubt interesting to see Deep Space Nine in action on the computer but I think there absolutely has to be a more compelling reason than simply wielding the Deep Space Nine franchise. The recently released Independence War 2 has proved the exact opposite of what Deep Space Nine PC titles have done. Without any solid story backing (definitely not as prestigious or expansive as Paramount), they have crafted a space strategy game that is time and again, critically acclaimed. The beautiful visuals in this title are certainly a step in the right direction, but, certainly, more can be done to this very deserving and unique Star Trek world.