Star Trek Preview
It’s been a long while since I watched Star Trek as a child, during dinner at the table with my parents. It was either that or the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, or the New Adventures of Superman. They were all on the TV at around the same time each evening, so for me Star Trek usually signifies a home-cooked meal and a plot I only paid half my attention to. Being quite young, even if I had given it more time, I think the majority of the plot would have gone over my head.
I hope that gives you the gist of how little I really know about Star Trek. I have, however, watched the 2009 movie… although if you know me well, you’ll be very used to my utterly terrible film synopsis recaps, and evidently I didn’t understand the plot in the slightest. Something about Kirk and his dad, a planet blowing up and old Nimoy-Spock going back in time before it happened to save everyone, right?
For me, a Star Trek game is daunting. I don’t know the lore behind the characters, the references to past adventures, the weapons or locations. I think this is why I initially couldn’t warm to the game when sitting down to play it. However, if you know your sci-fi, the gestures towards both the recent film, and of course the classics, are more than abundant. Simply stepping out onto the Bridge is enough to bring a tear to your eye… ok, maybe not, but it will definitely make you feel warm and fuzzy inside.
The U.S.S Enterprise has been beautifully rendered – corridors with crew members socialising, hearing snippets of their conversations as you pass gives the sense that it’s a living, breathing machine, and will without doubt bring with it authentic nostalgia to even the most serious of Trekkers.
2009 saw Zachary Quinto and Chris Pine taking on the re-imagined roles of Mr Spock and Captain Kirk respectively. Their likenesses have been added to their polygon counterparts, which although could be deemed as a positive to tie the game to the films, they do look a bit odd. Something about the way they have been constructed just doesn’t work for me, but with strong scripting throughout this can be overlooked somewhat. Your two main protagonists interact with each other and the crew exactly how you would expect, and they do it well.
This over-the-shoulder co-op shooter takes aspects from both Uncharted and Mass Effect, and melds them together to create something a little clunky, but still reasonably solid to play. Snapping to cover during shoot-outs is just one element we’ve come to expect, but when faced with climbing the walls of a slightly damaged Enterprise, it left a lot to be desired. Playing as Spock, seeing as everyone around me chose the handsome Chris Pine Kirk, it seemed a little strange to watch him hanging from a ledge, precariously reaching for the next yellow-striped shelf to pull himself onto. Although pointing out the obvious route, this did feel like a pleasant change of pace from the ‘shoot all the things’ action.
While hanging by Spock’s Vulcan pinch fingertips, he’s also able to use his Tricorder to manipulate nearby robot laser arms, turning them off for a short amount of time with the aim of safe passage across the room. The device can also be used to indicate points of interest in the surrounding area, which often include a route to take through the air ducts, or the next place to climb to. You can also use it to scan enemies, rewarding you with XP, which can then be applied to upgrades.
Although the plot is still somewhat a secret, we know that it bridges the gap between the 2009 film and the latest one out this year, Star Trek: Into Darkness. We know that we’re up against the Gorn – lizard-men who are trying to conquer the galaxy. With ‘at least twenty weapons’ to choose from, and an army of disposable red-shirts, you (and a friend if you wish) are pretty well equipped for the job. Each firearm has a primary and secondary function, and come in the forms of the iconic weaponry you can expect in the Star Trek universe, along with your typical shooter-game arsenal. Your character can carry a maximum of two at a time, so pick and choose wisely depending on the task at hand. Spock does have his legendary Vulcan pinch though if needed…
From the brief time I had playing Star Trek, I definitely got the overpowering sensation of being part of that world, while being a little underwhelmed by the gameplay as a whole. Maybe more time with it will reveal a more fluid experience. I can wholeheartedly say though that if you like your Star Trek you will love the attention to detail Digital Extremes have put into the game, and playing it will definitely prepare you for the epic adventure that Into Darkness is set to be.
Finally, you might also get the chance to witness a bit of a tiff between Kirk and Spock. Those guys can’t be expected to get on all the time, right?