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Star Trek: The Video Game Review | I Cannae Take Any More Of This!

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Reviews
Tags:
Digital Extremes, Namco Bandai, Paramount Pictures, Star Trek: The Video Game
Discuss:
Star Trek

Star Trek: The Video Game Review | I Cannae Take Any More Of This!

Platforms: PC | PS3 | Xbox 360 (reviewed)

Developers: Digital Extremes

Publishers: Paramount Pictures | Namco Bandai

Star Trek is one of those games that frequently proves unintentionally hilarious, but mostly from a laugh-or-you-cry perspective. One scene early on sees Kirk downed by a wound to the leg, and I'm forced to crawl about on my behind as I wait for my AI companion -- Mr. Spock -- to come and rescue me. Except, Mr. Spock's AI has gotten itself stuck behind some flaming debris, and he's quickly dispatched. I end up eliminating all of the foes, but because my would-be saviour has bled out, I fail the mission.

Star Trek: The Video Game Review | I Cannae Take Any More Of This!

This could just be an unfortunate glitch in AI, but I have a different theory: Mr. Spock is an utter b*stard.

There are moments in Star Trek when taking cover is fundamentally necessary, whether it's to prevent yourself from being barbecued by a nearby star or stealthily slip by some marauding enemies, but this can sometimes prove impossible. Not because moving from cover to cover is clunkily implement, it is but that's not the point, rather because so often you find that your AI companion has stolen the spot you were aiming for at the last moment. So many times, I've attempted to roll across a gap only to bump into my Vulcan pal, who looks at me as if to say "well, I'm in cover" as I'm riddled with lasers or flayed alive.

There have been firefights where my pointy-eared chum has just swanned about in-between friend and foes, gleefully soaking up laser-fire. Several times he did it while staring in my direction, as if he was deliberately injuring himself just to spite me. Naturally I rushed out to save him when he hit the deck; naturally I was blown to bits. Earlier in the game, investigating a research station on New Vulcan, I hit a crazed, infected Vulcan with a stun blast. I can't reach him in time for the non-lethal takedown, so he starts advancing again. My phaser overheats and Spock takes a few shots, but instead of stunning the oncoming Vulcan, he somehow makes the sickly chap invulnerable. As Spock crumples into a heap and the crazed creature bears down on me, I'm sure I see the good Commander flash a wry grin.

Star Trek: The Video Game Review | I Cannae Take Any More Of This!

So yes, Star Trek is a bit broken.

I'd like to tell you that everything works itself out when you add another human player to the proceedings, and it would be remiss of me to ignore the fact that the game does get better in co-op. However, just because my friendly chum is no longer trying to find inventive, passive-aggressive ways of getting me killed, that doesn't mean everything else is miraculously fixed.

Star Trek takes the form of a third-person shooter as you might have guessed, and it's relatively inoffensive at the shooting parts of the game. The cover system is rather clunky (holding down a button for several seconds to move position is not what I want), weapons lack much impact, and the enemy AI is not exactly the best we've ever seen, but if you switch your brain off everything seems fine.

Star Trek: The Video Game Review | I Cannae Take Any More Of This!

I imagine that Star Trek would make more sense when one is drunk. With sluggish player  inputs matching the unresponsive platforming, blurry vision excusing the constant presence of the uncanny valley when it comes to character animations (what has happened to everybody's top lip?!), and the simplicity of the threshold for drunken amusement making up for the lack of any gameplay innovation or excellence, it does rather seem to be a game perfect for when you're drunk.

Or you could buy a good game that you can play whatever the weather, or your state of mind.

As a film franchise tie-in, Star Trek is almost exemplary. The productions values that Paramount Pictures have brought to the table are frequently excellent. The cast are all present and correct, and the back and forth between Chris Pine's Kirk and Zachary Quinto's Spock can almost make you forget the horrible time you're having with the game. As a product that drives attention  towards the films themselves, it's great. All of the time I was playing the game I wished I was watching the films, so I switched my Xbox off, stuck Star Trek in my Blu-ray player and had a much better evening.

Star Trek: The Video Game Review | I Cannae Take Any More Of This!

But as strong as the dialogue can occasionally be, the script itself is rather awful. The story revolves around the Gorn stealing the MacGuffin that the Vulcan people were using to try and create a new homeworld, and Kirk and the Enterprise linking up with a feisty female Vulcan captain to try and pinch it back before the Gorn can take over the universe or something. To do this, you predominantly set phasers to kill and go around blasting lizard men, pausing occasionally to dabble in some really-very-light puzzles, constantly mashing the X button to get through doors, and pressing A to have your tricorder scan pre-designated objects for little reward or illumination.

The buddy cop framework does allow for some divergent gameplay, but that mainly extends to one of you fighting off a wave of enemies while the other solves a quick matching puzzle. Digital Extremes, to their credit, do try to shake things up occasionally with little platforming bits, the aforementioned puzzles, and a truly risible section where you're "piloting" the Enterprise, and engaging in one of the worst turret shooting moments in a video game we've seen in  a while. Every single facet of Star Trek has been done better elsewhere, and by games that one could argue are truly mediocre.

Case in point: I had more fun with Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel than I did with this game, and that's largely due to the adrenaline rush I got from the first time I hit the Overkill button. I was not kind to that game.

Star Trek: The Video Game Review | I Cannae Take Any More Of This!

There's a thematic issue here too. We tend to try to avoid reviewing games from a standpoint of what we'd like them to be, we can only review what's in front of us, but this genre seems an ill-fitting one for the Star Trek name. There's no choice and consequence here, your phaser is set to kill as the default, the tricorder is squandered as an investigation tool, and the upgrade system has little to no effect on the game, with little-to-no difference between Kirk and Spock. You're not going boldly where no-one has gone before, nor do you seek out new life and new civilisations. Well, actually you kind of do, but more as a big game hunter for bipedal, maniacal komodo dragons that you've never met before.

It's a real shame in the end, because the music, the Enterprise's bridge, the voice work, and the occasional snippets of excellent dialogue combine to fool some of your senses into believing Star Trek might be a worthwhile venture. But ultimately, this suffers from  the same issues that Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel did: it's just not fun and there are dozens of better, cheaper third-person shooters out there. Star Trek brings more to the table in terms of setting and script than Visceral's spectacular misfire, but it's broken boring, and there's not even true drop-in, drop-out co-op.

Pros

  • Strong audio work, good cinematic score, excellent voice acting
  • It's better with a friend
  • Bugs can be funny and videoing them with hilarious commentary might lead to YouTube fame...

Cons

  • ...Or not
  • Poor story
  • Bland gunplay and weapons
  • Awful AI
  • Uninspired puzzles
  • No drop-in, drop-out co-op
  • Had to restart several times due to bugs

The Short Version: Star Trek is a game that will make you feel less intelligent the more you play of it. There's just nothing to recommend here, whether it's because of the bland, nonsensical story and utterly forgettable gameplay, or the risible AI and poorly explored and implemented co-op. Pine, Quinto and co. do a good job, and somewhere under here, once upon a time, there might have been ideas for a good game. But this is not it.

Star Trek: The Video Game Review | I Cannae Take Any More Of This!

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Add a comment11 comments
t4v  Apr. 30, 2013 at 14:15

He's not a b*stard, he's a "green-blooded son of a bitch!" ;)

Drunkensquirrel  Apr. 30, 2013 at 14:16

Why you bother to play let alone review movie tie in shovelware is beyond me. As a small outfit why not use your time more wisely.

And no I didn't even read the review or see a screenshot of this game because the name tells me all I need to know.

Quietus  Apr. 30, 2013 at 14:16

I'm not surprised by the review. I wanted the game to be good, but I just had a feeling it was going to smack of nothing but a movie tie-in.

I only wonder who these companies are hiring to play-test, as anybody with an ounce of sense should just tell them that their game is poop.

stevenjameshyde  Apr. 30, 2013 at 14:28

Why you bother to play let alone review movie tie in shovelware is beyond me. As a small outfit why not use your time more wisely.

And no I didn't even read the review or see a screenshot of this game because the name tells me all I need to know.

It's the third best-selling game in the country as of last week. Any dissenting voices that can stop even one more person from wasting their money on this awful tat must be welcomed

Also, any critic will tell you that eviscerating rubbish is one of the most fun parts of the job...

Last edited by stevenjameshyde, Apr. 30, 2013 at 14:29
MattGardner  Apr. 30, 2013 at 15:45

@ Drunkensquirrel: We review everything that gets sent to us. If devs, pubs, and PRs -- small or large, it doesn't matter, and that's important -- are good enough to send us something to review, we'll review it. We're judicious in what we prioritise when the schedule gets busy, of course.

Additionally, Star Trek has been in the works for years rather than months. Paramount and NB made a big deal in terms of pomp and circumstance. Big hype warrants closer inspection, and on a personal level, if it's a game you've seen evolve from show to show, you want to see how the final product pans out.

It's the third best-selling game in the country as of last week. Any dissenting voices that can stop even one more person from wasting their money on this awful tat must be welcomed

Also this ^

The nature of the year is such that sometimes we don't get sent certain games and those reviews fall through the cracks. By then, we're usually hit by other material, and there's always something to write. However, if there is something we've missed and you'd like to get our critical verdict on it, do let us know.

That goes for all feedback. If there's something you'd like to see us do more of, let us know in the discussion forums or the comments box :)

davidpanik  Apr. 30, 2013 at 17:33

Star Trek had been looking to be more than just the usual churned out, movie/tv tie-in. There was a lot of early hype about - hell, I think they even started working on it before the new film. The quality of the was by no means a foregone conclusion.

I'm glad that Dealspwn quality control this pish so I don't have to.

Drunkensquirrel  May. 1, 2013 at 13:47

I've read the comments and understand the feeling of obligation to review things sent to you.

I still think it fairly naive to consider any game which is fundamentally a movie tie in as potentially a good game. And the comments about this star trek game being different from the outside well, the same comparisons can be drawn with the last aliens game - fanfare, good looking but ultimately they relied on its name to sell it rather than the gameplay.

What i would love is for somebody to interview someone on the dev team of one of these awful games and ask them what its like going to work everyday knowing you are making a flawed "passable" game designed purely to make money from the strength of the franchise.

Perhaps this guy http://i.imgur.com/nOWzCWl.jpg ?

Maybe someone could do statistical analysis of all the movie/franchise tie ins by adding together their metacritic score and giving an overall expected rating out of 10 - probably 5 for this junk then we would never need to review on again and just say essentially miss everyone of these games and your saving yourself alot of money. Last good tie in i can remember -> two towers on GC. Long time ago!

X10  May. 1, 2013 at 14:58

Drunkensquirrel - Brilliant picture!

MattGardner  May. 1, 2013 at 16:07

Last good tie in i can remember -> two towers on GC. Long time ago!

Loved it, and the Return of the the King tie-in too, especially in co-op. There was one level where you could just respawn orcs and Uruk-Hai for about 15 mins to get your moveset levelled up.

JonLester  May. 1, 2013 at 16:17

Shame, Star Trek was looking vaguely promising in preview, at least from a conceptual/buddy movie standpoint.

Well, at least I've still got Birth Of The Federation. Epic licensed 4X game from back when Microprose were Gods - watching the crystalline entity taking on your EDO Guardian ally never gets old.

Last edited by JonLester, May. 1, 2013 at 16:20
Late  May. 2, 2013 at 14:36

Perhaps this guy http://i.imgur.com/nOWzCWl.jpg ?


Wahahahaha! X)

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