|System: PC, PS3, Xbox 360*|
|Dev: Digital Extremes|
|Pub: Namco Bandai Games|
|Release: April 23, 2013|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Animated Blood, Language, Violence|
by Joshua Bruce
Typically, games created directly from movie licenses are total garbage. You would think that with a strong license it would be easier to create an engaging world within the confines of a video game. But time and time again, developers struggle to make anything of value, even though a lot of the creative legwork has already been done for them. This sad reality plagues licensed games as a whole.
However, Star Trek has attempted to break that mold. It doesn’t succeed completely, nor does it fail entirely. It lands squarely in the middle, which is kind of an achievement for a licensed game.
Star Trek starts out trying to separate itself from other licensed games with an original story. The narrative takes place somewhere between the two films, which is much better than the regurgitated movie plots normally created from a movie license. Although, it does tie into the events of the first film rather well.
If you’ve seen the film, you’ll probably remember that Spock’s home planet was obliterated, leaving what was left of his race celestially homeless. With the Vulcan race on the hunt for a new home world, they create the Helios Machine, designed to speed the process of developing a planet dubbed “New Vulcan” into a place the Vulcan race can call home. Unfortunately, it seems the Helios Machine has an unfortunate side effect; it creates small rips in the fabric of space and time. This, as you can imagine, is quite a problem.
To make things worse, the Gorn - a race of aggressive, lizard-like, space thieves - come through the rift and attack New Vulcan for the sole purpose of stealing the Helios Machine. This prompts Vulcan leaders to shut down the solar energy collection station that powers the device and the crew of the Enterprise begins investigating the faltering power station.
While on the power station, many of Star Trek’s gameplay mechanics are introduced. The game is structured around cooperative gameplay and wastes no time getting this point across. As either Kirk or Spock, you will need the assistance of your companion to open doors, hack consoles, and solve puzzles. There’s no need to worry if you don’t have a co-op partner though, you can easily assign tasks to you’re A.I. controlled counterpart with the push of a button.
The controls are sufficient for the most part, but you can occasionally find yourself struggling to complete the easiest of tasks, especially during platforming and puzzle-solving sequences. These bits of gameplay can be frustrating to say the least, but the game makes up for it in other areas such as combat.
Unfortunately, Star Trek’s combat system isn’t really anything new. And if you’ve played Gears of War or Army of Two, you won’t run into any real surprises. The cover based movement works relatively well and killing the Gorn is satisfying enough, but even though it is one of the game’s best qualities it never really seals the deal. The obligatory weapons all make an appearance - pistols, rifles, shotguns, sniper rifles, and grenades - in some form or fashion. Even though we don’t see any combat advancements in Star Trek, the game executes existing mechanics well enough to make the combat fun and enjoyable.
However, the shining attribute of Star Trek’s gameplay is the implementation of trademarked gadgets and a collection of mini-games that come along with them. The Tricorder is an invaluable tool and can be used for opening locked doors, scanning for enemies, and hacking enemy terminals and turrets.
Sometimes, while using your trusty Tricorder, you will be prompted to decode a signal or complete a circuit to achieve your desired effect, which spawns a mini-game. These can inspire bouts of nostalgia for the Mass Effect series, so be careful. But even though these are very similar in presentation, they work well and function to vary gameplay effectively.
Even though the gameplay succeeds to some extent, it is counter-balanced by the game’s lackluster graphical performance.