The war between Star Trek and Star Wars fans has raged for decades, without any end in sight. I only mention this because I myself sit on the camp that Lucas built, thus reviewing a Star Trek game is borderline blasphemy in certain circles. Still, I was a fan of JJ Abrams’ reboot of the series, and when Namco Bandai announced a game would be accompanying the expected sequel, I had the same reaction all the true fans had as well, “I wonder how they will mess this up”. Star Trek The Video Game is as generic as the tagline implies, and proves that there is one consistent thing both factions at war can agree on; these two franchises continue to be disrespected by game developers.
Star Trek (without a subtitle, it is weird just calling it that) takes place in between the two movies, as sort of a bridge. One would think this might lead to a compelling plot line, especially with all of the voice actors on board to lend their talents, but this is not the case. The plot here revolves around Vulcans settling on a new planet and constructing a new device known as the Helios. This device collects energy from the suns surrounding it, and of course the Vulcans are using it for the good of the star systems. The Gorn somehow manage to get their hands on it, and chaos ensues.
The actors deliver solid performances on the audio aspect, but the plot never materialized into anything more than fodder. The Gorn feel like generic Locust rejects from Gears of War, and even the banter between Kirk and Spock feels forced, and out of place most of the time. I also had an impossible time feeling any sort of compassion for any of the characters. Again, it had nothing to do with the performances, and was entirely a product of poor writing.
Speaking of Gears of War, Star Trek feels like it was designed by the C-team from Epic Games. This is a third-person, cover-based shooter with phasers as opposed to lancers. The Gorn are really modeled after the Locust with even worse AI. That might not be all bad if the combat made up a substantial portion of the experience, or even resembled a competent shooter. Star Trek accomplishes neither of these actions on any level.
Digital Extremes attempts to spice up the game play in a few different ways, all of which involve the co-op partner. The tricoder (handheld scanning device) allows players to hack and scan objects and direct the other player to specific points of interest. Sadly when playing alone, I spent more time getting Spock to do anything outside of run into gunfire, or even direct blasts from the sun. To say the partner AI when playing solo is a bit lacking is putting it mildly. Sadly, nothing is as annoying as mashing a button to open a door with your partner. Seriously, in an age where design is key, splashing the words “mash X to pry open door” is a little trivial, even for a licensed game.
It is worth noting that when we first received the PC version, co-op online didn’t even work. I would load the matchmaking, wait five minutes, then get disconnected; every time. The developers have since patched the issue (with a massive download), and it now works, allowing players to share their misery with other players.
The biggest crime Star Trek commits though is its design. The game attempts to shoehorn in stealth and platforming segments to mix up the action. Sadly, neither of these sections are well-designed, and the AI is so lousy, I could spend most of my time running through, guns blazing. There is no reason to utilize the mechanics the developers have put into the game, nor do they make it any more exciting to play. I spent so much of my time in Star Trek just hoping the next checkpoint would be the last.
Visually the game looks great when it isn’t moving. Textures are super sharp (especially on PC) and the characters definitely have the look of their real-life counterparts. Where it falls apart is the animation. Clipping through characters, and just general motions all look stiff and robotic. Watching Kirk jump over an obstacle is painful, and the amount of times I walked through characters almost became comical. This definitely feels like a game that was rushed to make a deadline, which makes no sense as the movie still has not hit theaters.
Star Trek: The Video Game is as generic as the name implies. I spent more time wondering why I was doing the things I was doing, instead of just enjoying them. Hardcore fans of the series would be advised to wait until the game hits a massive sale, and you have someone else to play it with. Setting expectations low is a must to enjoy what is offered here.
Review copy of game provided by publisher. Primary play on PC.
- Motherboard: ASUS P8Z77I Deluxe
- Liquid Cooling: Origin Frostbyte 120 Liquid Cooling
- Processor: Intel i7 3770K with Professional Origin PC Overclocking
- Memory: Corsair 8GB 1600 Mghz Vengeance
- Graphics Card: EVGA NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670