Sometimes reviewing a game can be hard, at times words just don't come to you, other times you like a game so much it can be hard to be critical, whereas other games are so bad they tend to be the easier ones to review, but in the case of Star Trek it's more like why bother, as they didn't seem to bother finishing the game. That's right; another film licence gone down the pan, Star Trek is a disappointing title from start to finish, though not for want of trying on the part of Digital Extremes, who have been given plenty of chances to create at least a decent space adventure game.
With Mass Effect essentially being a reimagined Star Trek, with its angry aliens, iffy intergalactic alliances and a captain the sleeps around, any new Star Trek game will have a lot to contend with. Hopes were high, as rather sensibly avoiding a rush job for the first reboot and setting the new game up in the new Trek universe between the two J.J. Abrams movies, expanding the universe even further, but as ever, timing restraints and short-sighted creative decisions leave this a fan only affair.
The newest galactic threat for the crew of the Enterprise to deal with involves a weapon of mass destruction, what was thought to have been a machine of peace, created to assist with the creation of New Vulcan turns out to also be able to create worm holes, a technology the vicious reptilian Gorn are only too quick to steal and put to use. Teaming up with a female Vulcan (you can tell as she wears the high heeled space boots) for Kirk to letch over, the crew then chase the Gorn all over the galaxy, trying to stop their evil plans. As opposed to classic Trek there is no real diplomacy in this game, it is all-out war, with you playing as either Kirk or Spock (there really is not much between them) shooting any Gorn that move and also infected crew members, choosing to either kill or stun them for extra XP bonuses.
The action is mainly a cover based shooter, though cover shooters are now quite common place so there is no excuse to do them wrong; I am sure the developers have played Gears of War at some point, why not just copy that. Instead we have a very disjointed cover system, fumbling from safe areas and never flowing as you would like it to that more often than not results in you getting killed when trying to get the darned thing to work.
Aside from Gears of War, Star Trek also borrows from Uncharted with some awful climbing sections and Portal to help solve a couple of puzzles, but again poorly; it also attempts a Metal Gear Solid approach to stealth, which as co-op is just about workable but on solo you can forget it as our AI partner will just run into plain sight. In general the AI in this game is a serious pain; with your partner getting killed a lot in cross fire, getting stuck or even on some occasions, just stands in a raging fire until they burn to a crisp resulting in a game over screen, typical Vulcan.
You even get a chance for some space action, taking a third person view of the Enterprise and getting involved in a huge space battle, but even here, the initial excitement is quickly replaced by confusion and then frustration, with this level really making no sense, with cut scenes appearing when you lock onto enemy ships and no real feeling of you having any influence in this on-rails battle.
Though there is lots of action, there is also an awful lot of chasing the waypoint marker, often losing track of exactly where you are supposed to go or you just get let down by a massive failure of the games controls, like when a hanger starts to collapse all around you, a jump is clearly required to make it across a damaged walkway but you constantly die attempting it, you start to doubt the marker, making attempts at other ways around, maybe it's the power cell that Spock refuses to pick up, or some hidden switch that you need to scan, but nothing happens. You then send Spock ahead, who makes the jump first time and after numerous attempts you finally make it, realising its just the awful controls that would not let you make such a simple move.
Apparently security is pretty lax in the future, with the equivalent of leaving your keys next to the letter box allowing you to pull off rather simple hacks with your tricorder to gain entry to pretty much anything. These hacking minigames are the bane of this Star Trek game, constantly popping up and really stifling any chance of a flow of action, getting monotonous and boring very quickly, opening doors, recoding mines and hacking sentry bots and gun turrets, such a device surely negates the requirement of a locked door. Why bother! Clearly in the future they have the most lacklustre of security; they deserve these constant galactic threats.
Where the game improves is the close effects work between the movies and the game, with Paramount giving Digital Extremes plenty of impressive sound effects, with lots of blips and bloops, full cast voices and other effects taken straight from the sound archive, though sadly the visuals are a little less impressive, with some reasonable likeness but if you are Simon Pegg I would be a little disappointed, with his head looking like it has been replaced with a turnip. The game takes plenty of visual cues from the Abrams films like an abundance of lens flares but then fails miserably on the lip synching aspect, sometimes it works, most of the time they don't even seem to bother.
Created as a co-op experience, trying to play this solo will just wind you up. Star Trek is an attempt at a good tie-in, having lots of support from the cast and effects teams that worked on the film but failing to give it any real oomph through the game. Trek fans will certainly enjoy the story of the further exploits of Kirk and crew but anyone else will be best to avoid.
Words by Ash Buchanan.
(Version Tested: Xbox 360)
- Full support from the actors and decent sound effects.
- A good Star Trek story, think of it as an 8 hour TV episode.
- The game feels unfinished with far too many glitches and bugs.