Star Trek: The Video Game review

Jun 17, 2013 Comments Off by

Star Trek The Video Game 3 Star Trek: The Video Game review

Star Trek is a franchise that has a long and storied history.  Star Trek (the game) takes on the same new action-oriented focus as Star Trek (the new movies).  You will play as either Kirk (more weapon focussed) or Spock (more tricorder focussed) in a third-person cover shooter.

The story itself is set after the first Star Trek film and before Into Darkness.  Events are supposedly canon to this new Trek universe and involve the Enterprise and her crew trying to stop the Gorn (kudos to Digital Extremes for picking a little known and even less used enemy) from unleashing a superweapon.  The story itself might well be quite good, but it is hard to distinguish it between the numerous frustrating firefights, the bland areas and the distracting bugs.

Things don’t get off to a good start.  After choosing to play as either Kirk or Spock you are thrown immediately into a firefight and told to shoot at the enemy.  That enemy is some distance away in the dark and it is possible to just sit behind your crate and wait out the starting sequence.  A cutscene follows that ends in a massive explosion.  Like most of the rest of the game, the scene is cut off just when it looked like it was about to get good.  It has the same feel as a poorly edited movie.

Star Trek The Video Game 2 Star Trek: The Video Game review

Graphically the game is adequate if a bit behind today’s standards.  Environments are not so necessarily lacking in detail as poorly designed and uninteresting.  Places and people look quite good when they aren’t moving, but as soon as they do things go downhill fast.  One of the selling points of the game is that players will get to explore parts of the Enterprise never seen before.  Unfortunately those parts are hardly worth the price of admission as they are mainly large grey spaces filled with ubiquitous crates and crew members that stand close to each other gesturing as though conversing even though there is no sound of conversation.  It is this general lack of extra detail that really fails to create a universe that feels alive.

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Gameplay, if it can be called that, is atrocious.  There are a litany of errors, bugs and glitches that combine to not only make the game unenjoyable, but in some places frustrating and others unplayable.  Simple design choices such as unsynchonised lip movement to speech and the way that Kirk and Spock move are almost annoying because they appear to have been designed that way.  I would be embarrassed to stand the way Spock and Kirk do in their idle animation – legs straddled like they’re riding a horse.  Jumping looks awkward and ineffectual and the climbing animation is both ugly and frustratingly inaccurate.  Clipping is a major issue, at one point I had Spock climbing on a construct above electrified water that wasn’t even there.  Other times guns stuck halfway into the floor.  These errors are not just limited to general gameplay however, as the cutscenes also feature similar issues.

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It was amusing at first to notice how the two protagonists can pass right through each other, until you get into close combat and find that suddenly your partner is as solid as he should be and blocking your way to cover.  Speaking of cover – the sticky system made popular in recent years – it is executed here poorly.  It is difficult to both get in and out of cover and it often proves easier just to stand your ground and fire back.  The reason for this is the terrible AI.  Enemies will often not notice you standing nearby as you shoot at their comrades (or even at them).  They will get stuck on cover objects, try to hide behind objects far too small to obscure them or quite often turn apparently invisible once dead (which is odd since this is one of the tricorder abilities you can unlock).  The AI for your own companion (if playing solo) is no better.  Not only do the co-op portions of opening doors or boosting each other into vents feel tacked on they can also fail to work when your sidekick decides he can’t actually get to where he is supposed to be or gets stuck behind some scenery.

Rather than just inflict terrible shooting action on the player, Star Trek branches out and tries other things…like inflicting terrible swimming sections, or boring flying sequences.  I imagined that controlling the Enterprise in battle would be exhilarating but found it instead to be unwieldly, unenjoyable and just…static.

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What good points can be dragged out of this mess?  Well, the game is voiced by the actors from the feature film.  Maybe that’s where Digital Extremes spent most of their budget, because it doesn’t appear to show up anywhere else.  The digital representations of the Enterprise crew are well done and instantly recognisable but even these actors sound a little bland and can’t breath life into the dialogue.  Playing as Spock you order around Kirk with your Tricorder but still spout lines about following his orders, while Kirk offers advice about obstacles after the fact.  Some of the banter between the two is nice, but perhaps the cast is let down by the poorly edited cutscenes and dull scenery.

Overall, Star Trek is flawed from start to finish (if you can wade your way that far).  Too much of Star Trek feels awkward or jerky or just plain wrong.  Not even the token addition of 3D (which is actually visually effective for some areas) can help this game rise above its flaws.  You may be a fan of the original Gene Roddenberry Star Trek series.  You may be a fan of the recent J.J. Abrams reboot of the film franchise.  What you will not – nay – dare not be is a fan of this misguided and error-riddled shooter.   [3]

Rating: 3
Platform: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Developer: Digital Extremes
Genre: Third-person shooter
Players: 1-2 (co-op 2)
Classification: PG
Website: http://www.startrekgame.com/intl/uk/
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