Star Trek: The Video Game Review
Star Trek, released by Paramount and Namco-Bandai, takes place in an alternate universe from the one most fans have come to know and love. Star Trek is a third-person co-op adventure game which can be played either locally or online. The storyline in the game is a type of placeholder, between the original release featuring the alternate universe from 2009 and the upcoming Star Trek movie, coming to theatres in May. In the game, you have the opportunity to play either as Kirk or Spock. It begins with a battle with the Gorn, a species of lizard that really doesn’t look much like the Gorn from the original series. Imagine a Velociraptor that has an intellect that rivals humans, and to top it all off, they can use weapons and fly star ships – this is the Gorn. That battle only lasts for a short while before you are propelled backwards in time to take part in the story leading up to that point.
While investigating New Vulcan, you find out that they are using the Helios Device to help terraform the planet. Unfortunately, it creates a rift in space that allows the Gorn to come through. Using a type of venom that mutates everyone, and forces them to attack their friends, the Gorn manage to kidnap one of the scientists and the Helios Device, with the intention of using it as a weapon. You have to follow them through the rift in space to their home planet, to recapture the device and rescue the scientist.
During the game you’ll have the opportunity to scan items using your tricorder. Be sure to try and scan everything you can. You’ll be able to get a range of intel from many items during the game. Ranging from found items and communicators to creatures, crewmen, plants and structures, the tricorder will be your best friend to earn experience, which can be used for upgrades on your weapons and tricorder.
Unfortunately, due to a poorly written script that never really touches on the emerging friendship between Kirk, Spock and the rest of the crew and lower quality graphics, this game is not nearly as exciting as you’d think it would be. There do seem to be more cutscenes than there is gameplay, and this really detracts from the game itself. A good example is at the start of the game when Spock and Kirk are playing chess when you’re called to the bridge. You get control of your character for the 30 seconds it takes to get to the bridge and then you’re in the middle of a cutscene again. There are quite a few times this happens in the game. Also, as you’re playing the role of a Starfleet officer you’d expect to have a little more freedom to wander the ship, but there is actually a very small area you are allowed to explore.
The controller scheme is relatively simple and easy to remember, although you don’t have the option to map the buttons to what you would prefer. This becomes an issue during frenzied battle, when it’s very easy to mix up the buttons and end up shooting someone instead of just stunning them due to the need to switch between the right trigger to fire and the right button to stun.
Sadly, the frustrations don’t stop there, as the game is riddled with glitches, and there is more than one spot that will make you want to put down the controller and walk away. For instance, in one mission where you’re tasked with rescuing a fellow officer, I made the mistake of exploring a little bit to see if I could find any more items to scan (after clearing out the local enemies, of course). I crawled through a vent, looked around, and returned to the officer to walk him over to Sickbay – all while fighting off more baddies. I couldn’t go any further from there as the other character (Spock at the time) was nowhere to be seen. I went back to look for him and found him walking into the wall, stuck at the vent that I had previously opened up. There was nothing that I could do to get him to stop. Not even trying to log in a second player, which apparently you can’t do unless you’ve gotten to a save point. I had no choice but to do that whole round over again.
More glitches abound throughout the game, mainly relating to movement. The characters quite often do not move properly when directed to (using the left thumb-stick to move). From missing certain jumps due to not being able to aim properly, to getting lost while swimming because the character refused to dive again when you came up for air for some unexplained reason – trying to get them to do what you want can be infuriating. In one instance of jumping from pillar to pillar to get across a chasm my character refused to make the jump from one to the other even though the jump was possible. After several attempts at each of these actions, I finally figured out that this was due to the camera angle. It almost felt as though the developers are punishing you, because you don’t have the camera facing a specific direction before doing the action required. This really did not make for an enjoyable gaming experience, as even basic tasks could not be accomplished with your crew.
The graphics are the biggest factor in Star Trek’s downward slide towards mediocrity – they really were very simple, and the developers could have done a much better job adding more realistic elements into their cutscenes. During the cinematics, where you’d expect to see better visuals than the actual gameplay, is where you really get a feeling that perhaps the developers decided to cut corners in order to rush this game out to the consumer. When the characters are talking, all you’ll see of the facial expression is the mouth and jaw moving (think Rocket Robin Hood from the 60s) – and that’s only when the mouths moved in sync with the words (which quite often did not happen)! Otherwise, you are treated to what looks like bad dance moves when the characters stand there discussing their next objective, kind of like Wavy Tube Men, as the characters would sway back and forth. This really didn’t translate well during some of the more dramatic scenes, and made the storyline seem almost comical in nature when it shouldn’t have been.
On a more positive note, sound effects and voice acting are where this game shines, and it’s an added bonus that the actors from the movie are voicing the characters. Spock (voiced by Zachary Quinto) and Kirk (Chris Pine) are both polar opposites when it comes to how they deal with things. You can feel the camaraderie that has formed between the two actors as they bring that friendship to the game. The music, although low-key during the game and often fading into the background, really plays to the atmosphere of each situation. There are points, however, where you’d expect a little more emotion coming from the characters, considering what’s supposed to be happening at the time. For example, in one scene, you’re on your way to the Sickbay to help McCoy, who’s trapped inside while the Gorn are trying to force their way in. You’d expect to hear some urgency from the doctor when he’s asking you to move faster, yet every time his voice-over cuts in, his requests are done in the same manner as every other comment he makes – with very little emotion in his tone.
Star Trek sounded great when it was first announced and the trailer looked amazing, but players will unfortunately find that it falls short from their expectations. Starting with the issues in the graphics department and moving on to control problems, Star Trek just doesn’t seem to have what it takes to be a game that you’ll want to play over and over again. Overall, I would say this game may be worth at least one playthrough, specifically for fans of the Star Trek series, but that’s about it. With all the issues that are going on in this one, I would recommend a rental if it’s available.
Star Trek receives a 2.75/5.0
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