Star Trek is the latest game developed by Digital Extremes and co-published by Namco Bandai Games and Paramount Pictures for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC. It’s a single-player third-person cover shooter using the Evolution Engine, with 2 player co-op elements and an emphasis on stealth.
You will be choosing between Kirk and Spock, both coming equipped with the iconic tricorder and phaser. The only difference between the two is the phaser they use. Spock’s weapon is focused on crowd-control, his shots affecting several enemies for a longer time, while Kirk’s is focused on dealing with one foe at a time, his upgraded phaser stun being able to put most of them to sleep in just one shot. The tricorder’s abilities are the same for both heroes, allowing you to upgrade their electronics, combat, shield and recon capabilities. Depending on whether you are playing by yourself or with a friend, the other character will be controlled by either the AI or your partner. Unfortunately, right now the PC version has a known issue with the co-op not working for anyone, so if you are looking for a co-op experience, you should wait until this gets patch.
Graphics are decent, with good texture quality across the board, creating some spectacular sights. The game provides a good variety of environments, taking you through places like the Enterprise itself, New Vulcan, a research station, a Gorn-occupied planet and ending with the Gorn Mothership. The Gorn are nice and varied, giving the impression of a really threatening looking alien, from the smaller ones that try to rush and overwhelm you with numbers, to the big ones that will try and shoot you down as fast as possible. The character designs are really well made, with the most important ones being voiced by the actual actors from the Star Trek reboot, which makes it easy to recognize the characters that we’ve grown fond of. Unfortunately, as with most games developed by Digital Extremes, the PC port isn’t that good, so graphics options are almost non-existent, lacking features such as tessellations, antialiasing or anisotropic filtering.
Difficulty-wise, the game has three difficulties to offer, though it won’t make much of a difference since the AI is really dumb, and for some strange reason the Gorn robots and turrets seem to be smarter than its masters. The only times the enemies actually pose a problem is in the few cases where they overwhelm you and during the boss fights, where you’ll have to use some actual tactics in order to win.
The bad AI doesn’t stop at the enemies. If you’re playing with an AI partner, you’ll get in few really frustrating situations where your partner will blow your cover or simply refuse to do what you tell him to. Another annoyance is that the developer forgot to allow you to cancel a co-op action once you’ve started. So, if your partner dies while you started the action, you’ll be stuck in place and you’ll have to restart from the last checkpoint.
The story begins with the Enterprise stumbling upon a research station that, having lost power, is set on a collision course with the binary star it was harvesting energy from. As such, Kirk decides that he’ll handle the save mission personally. With everyone back to safety, you set for the New Vulcan colony, only to find out that it has been overtaken by the Gorn, a species of ferocious bipedal reptiles. T’mar, the researcher that was in charge of the research station, tells you that they were experimenting with a new source of energy, the Helios device, meant to help with building the colony. But once activated the device had an unexpected effect, opening a rip in space which lead the Gorn into this solar system. The Gorn succeed in stealing the Helios device, so the rest of the story revolves around Kirk and Spock recovering it.
At first the gameplay seemed to be a straight up third person shooter. This all changed within the first commendations (optional objectives that instructed you to either not kill any of the infected crew or simply clear the objective without getting detected) you receive, quickly turning into a cover-based stealth game. The cover system is functional, though a bit clunky at times since the roll key is also used to take cover. Also in some places, even though it seems like you’re in cover, you’ll still end up getting shot. There are also some platforming thrown in the mix.
You will gain experience, not by fighting enemies, but instead by hacking different consoles, exploring the environment for audio logs and scanning different objects with your tricorder which also provides you with information about the races, weapons, enemies and other things. Extra experience is also awarded for completing the commendations. The points gained will be spent for upgrading the tricorder and the phaser.
When it comes to weapons, there are around a dozen of them, both Gorn and Starfleet. Considering the phaser is a bit on the overpowered side (with Kirk’s stun being able to one-shot enemies) and that the weapons, even though futuristic in design, still feel pretty generic, you’ll end up just using your phaser. In addition, you are only allowed to carry 2 weapons (your phaser and a secondary weapon) and 2 types of grenades (a lethal and a stun grenade) at any given time, which again are signs of a bad PC port since this was designed with consoles in mind, with the HUD clearly resembling a D-pad.
Star Trek has eleven chapters to offer which, if you go for all the commendations, will take somewhere between 10 and 12 hours to complete. If you are a fan of the series, you’ll probably end up spending even more time scanning all the collectible objects since they give a lot of information about the game’s Universe. The content is really well paced, so you will always spend just the right amount of time in each environment. The game also throws in some “chase” segments where you’ll be avoiding debris while flying through the air or outer space. The Enterprise stage was especially enjoyable, but I wish they would have given the player a bit more freedom. Overall there’s plenty of content to justify the price.
In the end, with its fair share of problems, Star Trek is still a good and really enjoyable game, but fails to be a great game. Being a game based on a movie license, my expectations were set really low from the start, but to my surprise it far surpassed those expectations and I had a lot fun playing the game. What I will say is that Digital Extremes really need to start spending more time when porting their games to PC. Whether you like the game or not will come down to your preferences, but the game is nowhere near the disaster critics are making it to be.
Live long and prosper!
Cirstoiu Alexandru, NoobFeed