Star Trek: The Video Game Review

With the blockbuster Star Trek into Darkness having been released earlier this month, an accompanying video game tie-in, Star Trek: The Video Game hasn't surprised anyone; however movie tie-in games have a bad reputation that leaves gamers reluctant to try any sort of game associated with a film. In spite of that, developer Digital Extremes looks to capitalise on the success of the rebooted series with a co-op third person shooter starring Star Trek poster boys Kirk and Spock. Are you ready to climb aboard the USS enterprise?

Story
Set between Star Trek and Into Darkness, the plot sees the enterprise crew come across an alien race known as ‘The Gorn’ who have appeared through a rip in space that was opened by the ‘Helios device’, a tool being used by the Vulcans to speed up the development of the planet New Vulcan (as the original planet was destroyed in the 2009 film). The prospect of the Gorn having possession of such a powerful device drives Kirk and Spock across the galaxy in order to stop them.

Right from the get-go the narrative is going to leave you scratching your head, as just 30 seconds in you will witness an oddly constructed opening that previews a future event in the game. While the overall structure isn’t as peculiar as the intro, it never rises above being average at best as it suffers from holes in the story such as you never being told exactly what the Gorn will be able to do with the Helios device, which kills any interest you may have in the antagonists as well as the conclusion to the story. To make matters worse, the story comes off feeling like a waste of time with no real repercussions for what happened during the course of the game, which for a series that features such a classic array of well-loved characters made all the more rotten and disappointing.

If there is one positive to find, it’s that the relationship between Kirk and Spock is crafted well enough in terms of how their bond grows between the two films. The friendly banter between the two during cutscenes and gameplay is a welcome sight that matches what you see on the big screen, though more time spent on some of the other characters on the enterprise and their relationships would have been nice, in particular Spock/Uhura and Kirk/Bones.

Gameplay
As you prepare to play as either Kirk or Spock through the 10 hour campaign, be ready because your journey through space is going to be a bumpy ride.

With two characters to choose from, those hoping for different experiences in controlling them will be sorely disappointed, as outside of Spock’s ability to mind meld defeated enemies in order to access useful information (a feature you can only use roughly 4 times throughout the entire game), both Kirk and Spock shoot, move and play exactly the same. For assistance in finding collectibles, weapons and items of interest, you are able to use a Tricoder which is one of the better features in terms of making this actually feel like a Star Trek game, however the amount of time in which you will be using the Tricoder is borderline ridiculous as you essentially need it for everything outside of combat and platforming.

Because moments like this have always been common in Star Trek.
Optional objectives are available to tackle at many points in the campaign, however they always follow the same 3 types of objectives (taking an alternate route, using stealth, only stunning enemies) which comes off as lazy on the developers part to not incorporate different forms of objectives.

While you will be gunning down a lot of Gorn, you will be spending almost as much time decrypting and hacking consoles to do all sorts of things including opening doors and shutting down turrets. Unfortunately the hacking comes off as being frustrating if anything, especially when starting out as there is a lack of information in helping you figure out what to do. Admittedly I did enjoy one of the types of hacking, which played out like a game of snake as you guided a line towards a target, trying not to hit the borders or your own line on the way.

Despite space battles being synonymous with Star Trek, they only appear once throughout the entire game, breaking up the cover based shooting style of play. In the space battle, you have to destroy a Gorn ship before it can do the same thing to you and while the opportunity to do this is appreciated, the end product leaves a lot to be desired with unclear targets to bring down and a badly thought-out control design that leaves what should be a highlight of your time with the game, an unmemorable disaster.

The jittery camera will have you shouting all sorts of profanity at certain points of the game that should be as simple as anything. You should never have to deal with camera problems when you are simply RUNNING in a video game, and yet there will be numerous times where you are running forward only to start running back the way you came due to you just wanting to move the camera to a better placed angle. The frustration caused by this will carry over to the platforming sections which will drive you up the wall thanks to the outrageous amount of failures you will come upon from trying to do straightforward tasks. To make matters even worse are the character animations that feel robotic and have been so poorly made that you could be forgiven for thinking that Kirk and Spock are old aged pensioners.

One aspect I will remember above anything else when looking back at Star Trek is the shocking (and I mean shocking) AI. When ordering your partner to perform an action, there is a good chance that they will respond by running off randomly (sometimes resulting in a game breaking glitch), and then when it comes to shootouts, they will stand idly by while you get gunned down. Enemy AI can be just as bad, sometimes not even reacting when you are standing face to face with them. The programming of the AI doesn’t even seem finished as you will rarely see your enemies attack your AI partner first, only you. So they can walk up to an enemy and just stand there without the enemy retaliating…hell if they wanted to, they could probably give the Gorn a bloody hug! At least playing co-op prevents this from happening, well that’s if you are horrible enough to let a friend have to endure this as well.

Graphics/Sound
The voice acting stands out as one of the game’s strengths as all of the cast reprise their roles including leads Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto. Alongside that are surprisingly decent character models that are all well suited to looking like their movie counterparts. These qualities help to make the characters, (especially Kirk and Spock) more interesting to those playing.

The Gorn on the other hand are poorly designed with skin textures that look like melting skin more than anything, which may not sound too bad but it looks dreadful especially during cutscenes when the Gorn are interacting with Kirk and Spock.

What...the hell...are...you?
With both of the films featuring gorgeously designed worlds, naturally you are going to hope to see something similar here, yet sadly that’s not to be. With bland and repetitive indoor environments that make you feel like you are running within a loop and outdoor environments, which while not as bad, lack that feeling that you are in a vast universe, result in visuals that are not up to scratch with what a Star Trek game severely needs.

Final Verdict
Star Trek continues on the infamous run of bad movie tie-in games with a plot that doesn’t achieve anything other than rage inducing technical problems. Simply put, this game doesn’t do the Star Trek franchise justice and is a real low blow to anyone hoping for a thrilling adventure as seen in the films.

Story = 3.5/10
Gameplay = 4/10
Graphics/Sounds = 5/10

Final We Know Gamers Score = 4.1/10

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