Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Star Trek: The Video Game review

    Star Trek is one of the most prolific franchises in the world for video games. One of my favorite video games of all time is Star Trek: Bridge Commander. Unfortunately, Star Trek video games have a reputation as being somewhat buggy or outright bad. This is a general problem with virtually all video game adaptations of existing properties with the Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay being about the only exception.

    Star Trek: The Video Game is an intrequel between the Star Trek (2013) movie and Star Trek: Into Darkness. The premise of the game is the Enterprise is summoned to a Vulcan space station where there's some sort of disaster is going on. As the box explains, this bit of nastiness of the responsibility of the Gorn. First contact in the reboot universe is even more violent than in the Original Series episode, "Arena." Add in a Vulcan scientific achievement which can be used as a super-weapon and you have the perfect recipe for a Star Trek game.
The Enterprise has some good rail-shooting sections. If you don't like rail-shooting, err, then sorry?
    The problem is the game is one of the most schizophrenic ones I've ever played. On one hand, it's really cinematic with beautiful set pieces and action scenes. All of which would have easily made this an excellent sequel to the reboot were it a movie. Then there's the gameplay, which is obviously rushed, half-finished, and the best parts cribbed from better-designed games.

    This seems to be the result of something similar to what happened with Alien: Colonial Marines (except  less disastrous). The people who were put in charge of developing this game didn't actually care about the game itself, preferring to work on their own projects. The irony is, SOMEONE must have cared since a lot of the levels are really well-designed and the plot is great. They managed to get all of the original cast from the first movie back for voicing the intrequel.
The likenesses are quite well done.
    I'll handle the good parts first. The Gorn make spectacular enemies as while we, the audience, are familiar with them--Kirk and Spock aren't. It really seems like a conflict out of left field for our heroes as they don't know who the enemy is, what they want, or why they're doing this. The initial confrontation between a Gorn warrior and our heroes is a tough boss fight and you're left using your head to figure out how to beat him. Even on Easy, I had to try a few times to figure out how to beat him.

    The supporting character of T'Mar reminds me of some of the Original Series love interests combined with the better parts of TNG's. She's exotic, interesting, and has a connection to one of our character's pasts. It's interesting to see a Vulcan love interest and while her plot hook is classic, she's the daughter of a chief figure on New Vulcan, it works well. I also enjoyed her voice acting, which was strangely soothing.
T'mar is also easy on the eyes.
    The set pieces, as mentioned above, don't lack ambition or imagination. Having Kirk and Spock travel along the side of a space-station while gigantic solar blasts are fired their way is just plain fun. Add in the weird mix of the modern and retro for the Federation starbase and you have the idea someone was paying attention to making this game. I also loved the designs for Gorn ships. They're weird and menacing but still functional-looking.

    The bad part is the game's half-finished nature is obvious. The lip-synching to character models is appalling, the clues for where you're supposed to go next are all-but useless, and the mini-games aren't much fun. I'm pretty sure you could also get rid of the experience part of the game and no one would have noticed the difference. About the best part of the game is the fact it's mostly wholesale cribbed from Mass Effect. Given Mass Effect was awesome, this is not a bad thing.
    Ironically, one of my favorite parts of the game is one of the less obvious ones. The game provides achievements for using stun and avoiding killing your enemies. Rewarding players for being less violent is about the most Star Trek thing about this game and a welcome change from the way this game could have been played.

    In conclusion, I can't really give this game a high score but I had fun completing it. As a result, I'm going to give it a slightly above-average score. This is one of those games which deserved more attention than it got.


No comments:

Post a Comment