Friday, 14 February 2003

Star Trek: Nemesis & Stronghold

Listening to:

The compact Coward, a compilation CD of songs by Noel Coward, most recorded in the 1930s. Currently up to I travel alone, recorded 29 October 1934. This one is melancholy, minimalist, but appealing. Others are quite comic. The Ivor Novello character in the film Gosford Park sings similar songs.

A recent movie:

Star Trek: Nemesis. This was an entertaining film, though totally undemanding. As an attempt to scratch an S/F itch, it wasn’t much of a success, but it was enjoyable enough. From the science-fiction point of view, the most disappointing thing about the Star Trek universe is the dreadful lack of variety in the aliens. They are all too obviously people with plastic prostheses on their heads. For all that they don’t get big roles, at least Star Wars has more interesting looking creatures.

The Star Trek universe is also less imaginative in its conception of the future than, for example, Banks’s Culture novels. There clearly hasn’t been much thought put into what technology advances might achieve. If a space-ship is “intelligent” enough to automatically put a force-field over a hole in the ship’s structure, surely it should be smart enough to maintain motion detectors and person identifiers throughout the ship. In particular, a tedious on-ship battle between the ship’s deputy boss, and the enemy’s deputy in the bowels of the ship should never have happened.

Anyway, with engaging hero and anti-hero (Jean-Luc Picard vs. Shinzon), you can ignore all of these sillinesses and enjoy the bad guys, and their eventual downfall.

A while back, I waxed lyrical about the enjoyment I was getting out of Stronghold Crusader. I got about two thirds of the way through the Crusader Trail, up to a mission that starts you off between two instances of the Richard the Lionheart opponent. The problem is basically that the scenarios get harder by making the initial conditions more and more disadvantageous for the human, not by making the opponents any smarter. It eventually gets boring playing against opponents that never get any better. What I’d really like is a human opponent. In the meantime, I am playing customised skirmish games where I can control the initial conditions.