Elite Force 2 is another game set in the ever popular Star Trek universe. This time you get to head up an elite band of federation combat troops stationed aboard that peaceful exploration vessel the Starship Enterprise. In the game you’ll fight the usual antagonists from the Trek universe, as well as some entirely new aliens that seem to enjoy munching their way through starship hulls. More than a decade on, Elite Force 2’s environments often feel basic and its AI clumsy, but there’s still a fun little game in here especially if you’re a Star Trek fan.
The game should install without any issues on modern versions of Windows. Simply insert the first CD and follow all the on-screen prompts. If the games autorun menu does not appear automatically, browse to the CD in Computer/This PC. Now, open the “Setup” folder, and then open the “rsrc” sub-folder. In this folder there should be a file called “AUTORUN.exe”. Run this file manually to start the installation process. If you intend to install the game to the default folder, you may wish to see the note regarding saving games and settings under the troubleshooting section at the end of the article. During the installation process you will be asked if you want to install DirectX. You should decline, since the version on the disc is obsolete.
There was one patch released for the game which you should download and install before attempting to play. You can download the patch here. Once you have downloaded the patch, simply double click on it to run it. The patch will automatically detect the correct folder and update the relevant files.
With the patch installed you’ve now done the minimum required to get the game running, but for the best experience you will probably want to tweak the video and sound settings before you start playing.
Tweaking visual options
Elite Force 2 has an extensive amount of visual quality options for us to tweak. We’ll start by setting several in-game options. Start the game and watch or skip (by pressing the Escape key) the opening cinematic. Now, from the games main menu, choose “Configure” and then choose “Video”. This will access the basic video settings for the game, there are a number of options you can set here.
Video Mode: Set your preferred screen resolution here. You will only be able to choose from non-widescreen resolutions, but we’ll cover how to play in widescreen later.
Color Depth: Make sure this is set to 32-Bit.
Texture Quality: Should be set to “High” on a modern PC.
Texture Filter: Set this to “Trilinear” on a modern PC.
Once you have configured these options, you will want to click on “Advanced” to access some further settings. The picture below shows the options you can now configure (click on the picture to enlarge it).
On a modern PC simply configure the options as shown in the picture. Be careful not to select any of the “Low Quality” options. Notice that the “Shadows” are set to “Simple”. On our test machine, setting Shadows to “Stencil” caused the shadows to glitch. The affect was particularly noticeable on character faces, strange, inaccurate shadows would appear on the faces of your fellow away team members. Due to this issue, we recommend using “Simple” shadows instead.
Click on “Apply” when you are done. Proceed now to the next section if you want to play in widescreen or otherwise skip ahead to “Tweaking audio options”.
Playing in Widescreen
Star Trek – Elite Force 2 is a 4:3 aspect ratio (non-widescreen) game, but it can be persuaded to run reasonably well in widescreen mode with a little configuration file editing. To get started, open the games installation folder (C:\Program Files (x86)\Activision\EF2 by default). Now, open the “base” sub-folder. We now need to find a config (.cfg) file. The name of this file will depend on what your Windows account name is. For instance, if your login name is “Spock” then the file will be called “Spock.cfg”. You can always find your user name by looking in the top right of the Start menu or Start screen.
Once you have located the correct file, right click on it in Explorer and choose “Open with -> Wordpad”. First of all, look for a line “seta r_mode” (without the quotes). If this line exists, change it, if it doesn’t, then add it in the section with all the other “seta” commands. Change or add it exactly as shown below:-
seta r_mode “-1”
Find the lines “seta r_customheight” and “seta r_customwidth”. Edit these lines and enter your chosen resolution, for instance for 1080p use the following:-
seta r_customheight “1080”
seta r_customwidth “1920”
For 720p use
seta r_customheight “720”
seta r_customwidth “1280”
Of course, if you want to use another resolution simply substitute in the appropriate values. The next step is optional but highly recommended. Go back to the top of the file and anywhere after the “unbindall” command, add the following line:-
bind z “fov 96.4”
The reason for this command is simple. Since the game is designed for non-widescreen screen modes, the camera is positioned slightly wrong by default. By adding this line and then pressing the “Z” key in game you can fix this problem. Unfortunately you will need to do this every time you start a new game, move to a new area or load a saved game. If you’re using a 16:10 screen mode, use command bind z “fov 90.4” instead.
Don’t forget to save the file when you are done editing. Now, when you start the game it should run in your chosen screen resolution. You just have to remember to press “Z” each time the level changes. Note that if you choose to play in widescreen the games cut-scenes may appear stretched. Furthermore, some of the games menus may not render completely correctly. At 1080p the menus are still pretty much usable, but if you are lucky enough to have a monitor or display that goes even higher, you may find the games menus become completely broken.
Tweaking audio options
To configure audio options for the game, start the game and go to the main menu, then choose “Configure” and then “Audio”. The three settings we need to pay attention to are “Speaker Type”, “Sound Quality” and “Sound Driver”. Speaker type should be set to whatever configuration you are using. Sound Quality can be set to 44-khz. Sound Driver should generally be set to “Software”. Elite Force 2 supports the now obsolete EAX audio standards. Back when the game was released an EAX enabled sound card was the cutting edge of PC audio, but the standard is no longer supported in Windows Vista or later. If you have a sound card that supports Creative ALchemy or a similar EAX wrapper, you can use that to re-enable EAX support and enhance the sound in the game. Simply exit the game and then add the games installation folder (C:\Program Files (x86)\Activision\EF2 by default) to the list of ALchemy enabled programs, keeping all the other settings as the default. Now when you start the game again you should be able to choose “EAX3” sound mode and enjoy full surround sound.
Multiplayer and other notes
Star Trek: Elite Force 2 supports multiplayer games over the internet or local network, though the online infrastructure that facilitated this has long since been shut down. If you are interested in playing multiplayer, fans of the game have created a new “master server” that allows you to find multiplayer servers easily, though getting this working is somewhat tricky. Either follow the steps on this page or, download our pre-patched Elite Force 2 executable here (link broken? Let me know here). To install the pre-patched executable, first browse to your Elite Force 2 installation directory (C:\Program Files (x86)\Activision\EF2 by default) and make a backup copy of your existing game file by renaming the “EF2.exe” file to “EF2-OLD.exe”. Now, simply copy the replacement EF2.EXE from the zip file into the games installation directory.
Now, start the game again and go to “Multimatch”. Make sure “Server Source” is set to “Internet servers” and then click “Get List”. A list of 3 or 4 active multiplayer servers should now appear that you can connect to. The multiplayer severs may also require you to install the “Ultimate Patch 1.1 mod”, which you can download here. When you run this mod you may find that your custom graphics and sound settings have been reset. Reconfigure them as detailed above and, if you want to activate widescreen modes again, look for the configuration file within the “UltimatePatch” directory, rather than the “base” directory.
If playing cooperatively rather than competitively is more your kind of thing, you might want to check out this incredible mod that allows the campaign to be played cooperatively with up to four players. Each player will require their own PC and their own copy of the game (you can’t play split screen), but since this is an older game it can be played on a more modest, spare older computer you may have around the house.
The popular gaming utility Xfire supports Elite Force 2, allowing you to take screenshots and videos as well as chat to your friends and browse the web all without having to leave the game.
Problems saving games – Like many older games, Star Trek: Elite Force II places its save game files and various configuration files in the same directory that it is installed to. This can cause problems on more modern versions of Windows as programs are not normally permitted to write to the program files directory. To avoid this problem, either install the game to an alternate location (e.g c:\Games\EF2) or manually edit the permissions on the “EF2” folder. A tutorial on how to edit folder permissions can be found here.
Shadows appear to be drawn incorrectly – On the games advanced graphics settings, set shadows to “Simple” rather than “Stencil”.
The screenshots show the game running in 1080p with the highest visual settings. Click on any screenshot to enlarge it.