Star Trek: The Video Game

This third person action-shooter game takes place after the high quality 2009 Star Trek film and its sequel Star Trek Into Darkness. Single player and cooperative/multiplayer (online and offline in split screen) modes are available.

Captain James T. Kirk and Spock must work together in the co-op mode against the antagonistic and reptilian Gorn, who are trying to disrupt the New Vulcan colony.

In Stark Trek: The Video Game, players can play this third person action-shooter sci-fi game with Captain James T. Kirk or the formidable Vulcan named Spock. Both get basic weapons like phasers and communication tricoders – both are upgradeable. Kirk’s phaser is a bit more powerful…and louder, while Spock’s weapons can freeze plus he uses the famous nerve pinch and mind meld powers. Kirk can also order airstrikes from their home ship The Enterprise.

Players can drop-in to play any time, and the story is different every time. Players can go solo or co-op (online or off-line using split screen). The online mode only lets a player join when the counterpart reaches a checkpoint, so sometimes the wait can be long. Once in online mode, players get an action packed experience plus some learning, especially for new players.

Different strategies from various online players really help. Novice players can benefit from experienced partner while shadowing their movements and providing key support. The split screen mode only works well on a big screen because there are so many objects and targets to track, so the bigger the view, the better.

Experienced video game story writer Marianne Krawczyk created the strong, original plot, which incorporates the actual actors’ voices from the film – Chris Pine for Kirk and Zachary Quinto for Spock plus Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, John Cho and Anton Yelchin. With the production pieces well in place, this game comes down to the execution.

Stark Trek: The Video Game focuses on Kirk and Spock’s collaboration. In the single player mode, players do not usually have to worry about their AI partner (Spock or Kirk), but will experience surreal leaps when advancing through levels. No radar or locator screen that shows where your partner is, but the game does use sound and an occasional visual. Players must revive their partner when needed – an essential action not recommended during a complicated fight or challenge, so keep that partnership strong.

The player’s character can order the AI partner with the triangle button. This function adds some nice strategy and even some unorthodox advantages. For example, players can send the AI partner into harm’s way to test scenarios then try them out themselves. This “sacrificial” AI partner acts hurt, but does not die and players are not penalized in any way.

Developers wisely incorporate the choices within the action instead of a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure-type dialogue choice tree.

Unfortunately, the control movements are not light years ahead, which diminishes the overall co-operative gameplay experience. Characters react when touched by enemies, which makes reaction time and action movements more critical.

Players can stun, melee, sprint, seek cover, scan for items, and make zero gravity jumps. Players can also complete special actions like swimming, but only for special situations. Other special events like a familiar gun turret experience are short-lived and could have been expanded into unlockable mini-game experiences or practice modes.

The tricoder helps with hardware hacks, while the cover mechanic gets overused. Players should master the cover and combat functions as quickly as possible before entering co-operative online or offline (split screen).

Commendations reward players for playing play specific way, so repeat players never get the same experience twice. This feature provides opportunities for additional experiences and is optional but recommended.

In the single player mode, the cooperative actions like opening doors together can get repetitive, but reduce the load times. Players can solve puzzles together in scenarios that usually require multiple attempts for novice players, while puzzle veterans can quickly analyze the adventure filled challenges and work through to the next challenge.

The enemy AI, namely the Gorn, can make challenges easier by their actions. For example, players can wait for them to move in open territory for a convenient take down. Players can also hijack enemy battleships for special advantages.

On the flip side, these baddies emit various venom in furious attacks. At times, players must constantly adjust the camera, which creates a frustrating action experience instead of an exhilarating one.

Players ducking for cover themselves amid troublesome movements and actions that make boss fights. A few clipping issues and running into objects diminishes the experience as well. Smoother environments in large battle sequences would make smoother movements easier. Some environments could use more color distinction in the design for easier navigation.

The graphics have great lighting, while the object depth is only truly realized when playing in 3D. The 3D option works well and enhances the experience. Players can spot essential elements in the environment easier in 3D.

For example, one scenario involves progressing through without getting singed by solar flares. In 3D, players can see cover shields and other helpful blockades much easier as they run out of cover and on to the next area.

Great voice overs, sound effects, and original musical score that includes a 100-piece orchestra under composer Michael Giacchino.

Star Trek: The Video Game (** out of four stars) has a nice underlying theme of creating the new Vulcan planet with highly detailed set designs. Gameplay allows players to “stop and smell the roses” any time they want while presenting formidable combat and puzzle-type challenges throughout missions.

This game from Digital Extremes and Namco Bandai is the first major Star Trek console game release since 2007’s Star Trek: Conquest on Nintendo Wii and PlayStation 2 and the downloadable Star Trek: DAC on PlayStation network and Xbox Live.

The high production values and faithfulness to the films create an authentic experience though character movements and action execution diminishes the experience, especially during “boss battles”, but can be overcome with a moderate learning curve. Also available on Xbox 360 and PC. This game would have been a great opportunity on the Nintendo Wii U.

Copyright © Michael Siebenaler

 

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