The Average Gamer

Star Trek Hands-On Preview

Star Trek Game - Enterprise Exterior
As I sit down to write this preview, I make a promise to myself. A promise to try and avoid as many Star Trek puns as possible. This introduction is a confession, I broke my promise, and it’s also my apology. Live Long and Prosper.

When I listen to Brian Miller, Senior VP of Paramount Pictures, talk about the journey of Star Trek The Video Game, it soon becomes apparent that this is no cash-in on the hugely successful movie reboot. Three years in development, the team has worked very hard to create an authentic Star Trek experience. Miller is very passionate and proud of the work the team at Digital Extremes and Paramount have done, and every feature discussed in the pre-demo presentation is underlined by two things: authenticity and giving the fans what they want.

Set between 2009’s Star Trek film and this year’s Into Darkness, the Star Trek video game looks to tell a story of its own with an enemy fans will be very familiar with. The Gorn are most famous for taking on William Shatner in one of the most epically awful fights in television history, but now they’re back with a vengeance.

All actors from the movie have provided their likeness and voices to the game, and after seeing a quick cut-scene between Zachary Quinto’s Spock, Chris Pine’s Kirk and Zoe Saldana’s Uhura, it’s clear how much of a difference this makes.

Miller also talks about creating the look and feel of the Enterprise, and gives us a guided tour led by Captain Kirk. But as we look around the ship, it feels more like a hospital waiting room than the iconic space ship.

The sterile appearance of the over-white walls and over-brightness of everything sucks the life out of the ship, which isn’t helped by a lack of activity on the Enterprise. En route to the control room we meet some blue and yellow suits, who look like they have travelled all the way from the PS2. Though the textures look a little flat, the facial animations of the main characters are great, and the dialogue exchanges makes it feel as though you really are watching an episode from the series or a scene from the movie.

Here’s a trailer introducing the co-op elements of the game and showing off the interiors.

As I sit down to boldly go where no man has gone before, I’m given a choice: Spock or Kirk? I decided that I identify more with the intellectual type than the courageous, cocky hero, so I went with Spock. It’s only logical.

In the demo, Kirk and Spock are sent on a rescue mission to a space station. After Spock’s insistence that Kirk remain on the Enterprise, and Kirk’s inevitable clever quips, we board the station and things quickly take a turn for the worse. The station is on the brink of exploding, and it’s our job to move through and save the day.

Star Trek Game - Chris Pine Captain Kirk ShuttleAs I work my way through the space station, it’s clear this game has been inspired by some pretty heavy hitters. Firstly, there’s the tricorder, a scanning device that turns the screen blue to help you find secrets in the level, hack and unlock and also scan bodies. It looks and feels very familiar to Rocksteady’s Arkham series’ Detective Mode, and functions in much the same way [in other words, not at all like a tricorder – Ed.].

Then there are the platforming sections, basic Uncharted fare without as much charm. And finally, we have a space jump sequence, which is very similar to those seen in Dead Space. All these mechanics are fine in Star Trek, but they remind me of the other, better implementations in recent games.

I would like to comment on how fighting the mighty Gorn feels, but, sadly, this demo didn’t include any combat sections, with shooting restricted to firing at platforms to create cover from the blazing heat in the outer-space sections.

Star Trek Game - Chris Pine Captain KirkBeing a co-op centric game (with split-screen available in the console versions), naturally there are many a-sequence that requires both players’ input to proceed. The pointless act of mashing X to wedge a door open so you and your partner can squeeze through is far too frequent for my liking. There are also hacking minigames, which, had I not seen someone else complete before me, I would never have been able to work out. You have to work through a set of eight wave patterns, matching pairs using the left and right analogue sticks, pressing A once you think you have a match, and I’ve just done a better job explaining it than the game did. But the partner AI in single player is more than adequate, plus there’s also the option to guide Spock or Kirk to hack terminals or move to a location, by using the tricorder.

Based on what was shown at the event, and what I got a chance to play, Star Trek is shaping up to be a perfectly average game. It takes inspiration from some of the great games of this console generation, but lacks originality and doesn’t seem to do anything new with the mechanics it seeks to emulate. Hopefully the game adaptation of JJ Abrams’ next movie will use the Force (again, I’m so sorry).

The new Star Trek game will be out in Europe on 26th April for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC.