Review: Star Trek
Star Trek is a licensed title developed by Digital Extremes as a bridge between the 2009 Star Trek film and its sequel Star Trek: Into Darkness, released in May 2013. Does it add value, or is it a cash-in?
- Worth The Time?No, it's overly long, overpriced and overly crap.
- Things LovedThe original voice actors were used for Kirk and Spock.
- Things HatedThe graphics are a real mixed bag, the gameplay is very dry with dull shooting taking up large chunks of it, with its gameplay elements it has gone for quantity over quality far too much, its repetition is harshly felt throughout its overly long duration, the puzzles are bland, the story is extremely subdued and uninteresting, the animations are terrible, the lip syncing is bad, the co-op adds zero value, there are numerous bugs.
- RecommendationDon't buy this game. It's exactly the kind of low quality, unimaginative and lifeless cash-in that you dread from licensed titles.
- Name: Star Trek
- Genre: Action Adventure, Third Person Shooter
- Players: 1-2
- Multiplayer: Online co-op (2 players)
- Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
- Developer: Digital Extremes
- Publisher: Namco Bandai Games, Bad Robot Interactive, CBS Studios, K/O Paper Products, Paramount Pictures
- Price: R420-460 (PC), R599-630 (PS3, 360)
- Reviewed On: PS3
I’ve never been the biggest Star Trek fan, or Trekkie as they’re often called, but I’ve always had a certain liking for the franchise, and I especially loved the 2009 alternate reality prequel, Star Trek. This game, simply titled Star Trek, is a licensed title developed by Digital Extremes as a bridge between the highly rated 2009 movie and its recently released sequel Star Trek: Into Darkness. Now, ever since the Batman Arkham games, there’s been an increased level of expectation towards licensed games, and they’ve been given a lot less liberty to be, well, rubbish. Sure enough, I will admit that the quality has raised of these games, and they’re at least not as torrid as they used to be a good few years ago. That said, Star Trek proves to be a stark reminder of those dark days, and is unfortunately another entry in the pile of games you should desperately want to keep away from your consoles at all costs.
As mentioned above, the game takes place between the two recent movies, bridging the gap. At least, that’s what it says it does. What it actually provides is a story that is extremely subdued and totally uninteresting. Dinosaurs with guns steal a super weapon, and it’s up to Kirk and Spock to invoke the powers of repetitive and dull shooting to kill them. I will credit the game that at least it features the original voice acting of Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto for Kirk and Spock respectively, as well as the movie talent for some of the other important crew members on the Enterprise, but that’s about the only thing noteworthy about the story. It has some occasional smile-worthy moments when the main duo are on screen, but for the most part it fails to capture the wit, chemistry, charisma or essence of the characters we saw in the 2009 movie. The dialogue is especially bland, whereas it was pretty strong in the movie. Here, Spock’s attempts at intellect and logic just make him Captain Obvious, and Kirk doesn’t interact with him all that well. It’s less the dynamic duo, and more the tepid two.
It’s relatively easy to forgive a failing story if the gameplay makes up for it, but Star Trek plummets at every step here. I will acknowledge that Digital Extremes tried to add a lot of variety to this game, and kudos to them they did take inspiration from noteworthy titles such as Uncharted, with regards to the game’s climbing system. Taking inspiration from great games is a welcome thing. But Star Trek, with its gameplay elements, has gone for quantity over quality as much as possible, and the result is simply a game overstuffed with simplistic elements, none bringing anything substantial to the table, and all just there for the sake of variety. It’s variety, but it’s not meaningful. You’ve got an entirely unnecessary co-op mode, which I’ll get to in-depth later, shallow arcade space shooter levels, tons of third person cover shooting, stealth as an option, climbing sections akin to Uncharted, a Tricoder that works like detective mode from Batman, hacking mini games, swimming sections and one or two others.
All of these gameplay elements never amount to anything above surface level, mundane tasks, and nothing works together, they’re all just isolated elements thrown into the game. To give an analogy of what the design for this game is, it’s basically like a five year old with ten different colour crayons trying to create a work of art in a picture book. The gameplay is very dull most of the time, with boring shooting sections taking up large chunks of it. The game does allow for stealth, but this just slows the pace further, and the linear congested environments never help to make the stealth feel tactical. It’s just sneak up behind someone, and hit a button. The puzzles are almost entirely solvable in a matter of seconds, with solutions sometimes literally right in front of you, making them just obstacles to add on a few minutes rather than challenges. The game makes you use your Tricorder as often as possible to open doors, search for hidden items and hack things, and these situations are never presented in an engaging way, but always just to slow the pace, lengthen the game and bore you further.
At the start of the game you’re allowed to choose whether you’d like to play as Kirk or Spock, and if you feel you want something different you are allowed to use the mission select to change. When I looked at the abilities you could obtain for each character through their skill trees, I actually felt that a concerted effort had been made to differentiate the two characters for players, but sadly in execution there’s barely a real difference. Definitely not one that could even remotely justify giving this game a second or extended playthrough to experience it with the alternate character. Whether you’re a Kirk or Spock player, the experience you’ll have is practically identical, and the game remains boring, and lifeless. Sure Spock is supposedly a bit stealthier, and his weapon freezes, but that’s about it.
It doesn’t help that the game is really long too. You’d expect a licensed cash-in like this to clock in at around six hours, but this drags on for over ten. I would praise the game’s initiative to not cop-out with as short a campaign as possible, but in this case that would have been an absolute mercy. If you ever wanted to know what a slow death entailed, Star Wreck has you covered. Oh, I’m calling it that now already. And I haven’t even finished bashing it. Anyway, its dreadfully slow pace and shallow, uninspired gameplay results in the repetition being painfully felt throughout its overly long duration. Everything that Star Wreck wanted to do would have been good ideas on paper, but the execution is so flat and the experience so forgettable that you wonder whether this was made by drones rather than creative minds. I can’t see how even hardcore Star Trek fans would find this appealing, or at the absolute least have fun for more than an hour with it. I would truly be baffled. This game is so tiresome.
Usually co-op would be the way to at the very least get a few sparks out of this game, but I can’t remember the last time that I played such a dreadfully boring cooperative mode in a game. It adds so little value to the experience, that it feels entirely unnecessary. You can either play locally or online, which at least counts a little bit in the game’s favour. But all I can remember co-op ammounting to is having to wait for your loving ally to enter lifts with you, help you pry open doors and execute boosts from time to time. Co-op is never used creatively, never adds intensity to the combat, never makes the game any more entertaining and never feels needed. A boring game with a friend doesn’t make it any less boring. It only makes you a bit sadistic for wanting someone else to suffer with you.
The graphics are a real mixed bag, mostly ending up just being very dated. In some places, they actually look pretty decent, specifically onboard the Enterprise. And up close, Kirk and Spock do actually look good. But that starts to fall apart when your eyes are exposed to some horrible textures, ugly environments, extremely dated visual effects, terrible character animations, bad lip syncing, and numerous bugs. Where to start with the technical shortcomings? Sometimes my aiming reticule stayed on the screen during an in-game cutscene. The AI is bad. There are checkpoints before unskippable cutscenes. There are graphical glitches, cases of awkward control and clipping issues. I imagine that the people behind this game must have been confused when some smart ass suggested that they need to polish the game. Perhaps that particular smart ass ended up getting thrown out a window.
Star Trek is exactly the kind of low quality, unimaginative and lifeless cash-in that shows all the bad licensed titles are capable of. Its repetitive, boring, buggy, excruciatingly slow and the cooperative mode adds absolutely zero value to the experience. There are just few things worse than playing a game that fails in every respect to entertain, and is just forgettable and painfully drab. If you value the minutes that you spend on this planet, then do not play this rubbish. Star Wreck indeed.