Somehow I'd not heard of this mod until the other day, but I'm glad that I did in the end. Armada 3 is an unofficial sequel to, yes ST: Armada 2, and is a mod of the space RTS Sins Of A Solar Empire: Rebellion. Having watched a few 'lets play' videos on YouTube I jumped straight in, and its clear the the makers have done a sterling job, you can feel the passion for the franchise pouring through the screen.
Now I should qualify this by saying that I'm not usually an RTS guy, I find them pretty repetitive, and nine times out of ten they boil down to who can build and research the quickest, with little actual strategy involved. Build the most ships in the quickest time, win. Thankfully Armada 3 plays at a much gentler pace and gives you bags of options about how to tackle the game. Ships are only able to move between planets on pre-defined routes, and the ships move, for the most part, pretty slowly. This makes you think quite hard about where you're going to deploy ships, because if all you ships are one side of the map and you get attacked on the other, you're in real trouble, it'll simply take too long to respond before you've taken heavy damage.
All the ship classes are faithful to franchise, even down to the space stations and they've even included some 'hero ships' (Voyager, 1701-E, and the Defiant), each with the right captain, and some great voice over clips to go with them. Everything oozes polish and the games feels in no way like a mod, it may as well be a standalone Trek game. The adherence to established 'trek' design is all the more refreshing given the ST:O seems to to fairly cavalier with the ship designs, and if I'm honest I don't like what Perfect World have done for the most part, it just doesn't 'look' trek enough. I did spot that the mod team have lifted a few graphics (mainly in the research tree) from ST:O but it makes no odds, everything looks great.
You can choose to play Armada 3 as either the Federation, Romulans, Klingons, or Borg, each with their own distinct play styles and units. I've only played as the federation so far and I encountered no balancing issues in the few matches that I've played.
The mod team have crafted a beautiful game that is faithful to the franchise, and looks deep enough to keep me entertained for hours. If you've not played it already I highly recommend you do so. Sins Of A Solar Empire: Rebellion is available on Steam for £29.99, and the Armada 3 mod is available here.