I’ve never been a Trekkie, though most people would probably peg me as the type. There was simply too much lore for me to try and follow. With the 2009 reboot though, it seemed to be a prime time to try the franchise out, and I loved Star Trek. Naturally, I was both horrified and excited to see a game adaptation for it, especially considering the track record for most game adaptations and the fact that the title comes from Digital Extremes of Warframe and Unreal fame.
For those unlucky enough to pick up the console version of the title, they’ll definitely notice the title’s subpar graphics, including bland textures and a slew of awkward animations from the cast. It seriously looks like the developers just phoned this one in. Add that in with the game’s various glitches, including constant clipping, which should really be a relic of the previous console generation, and the game just becomes a strain on the eyes even if players were playing on their PCs with ultra graphics settings. For the audiophiliac Trekkie, while sound effects feel genuine, the voice acting is horrid. The lack of any emotion in Spock’s voice is understandable – appropriate even – but Kirk and the rest of the cast’s detached approach is enough to make anyone question whether the cast’s motivation was to make a great Star Trek game or to take their money and leave the recording room lickety-split.
While it runs on the same Evolution Engine that powers Warframe, Star Trek is hardly as exciting. Instead of the constant bursts of action using a fast, superpower-wielding armor, players are doomed to use either Kirk or Spock, who have few differences between the two of them. Though the game offers players a chance to team up with others, either online or with couch multiplayer, they’ll be hard pressed to find anyone playing online or willing to go through the game with them. Instead, players will probably be left with a mostly inept AI teammate. Not only will it get shot down, despite the environments’ numerous opportunities for cover, it will always rush to players’ aid right away when they’re downed, which sounds great but is actually a flaw. With the game’s down system, which allows players to stay downed indefinitely as long as the other character is still alive, it would almost seem better to just lie back and shoot away. However, the AI will still rush to players, often leading to its own demise and a swift mission failure screen.
The game is hardly as fast paced either, with many sections encouraging players to sweep the area for objects to scan in order to get experience points for upgrades. Any time I finished a fight, I found myself scanning the room, rather than moving on swiftly to the next (where I would probably do more scanning), and it just feels that the overall design of the game is one that misuses the studio’s strengths.
When not fighting, players will probably spend their time hacking one of the game’s numerous consoles. Most of these are pretty mindless, allowing players to try again after failure without consequence and encouraging a trial-and-error approach rather than actually think their way through. Outside of levels with enemies, the game is even further stricken by long, drawn out story segments that players actually have to play through, walking through rooms and listening to mundane dialogues until they reach a cutscene, most of which are unskippable.
There are some segments where players will take control of the enterprise, which should feel like a dream but ultimately doesn’t. As players fly through space, there were constantly enemies attacking – most of whom I couldn’t see or tell was an enemy – and the starship’s armor just whittled away. I ended up just firing away until I had some homing lasers that actually had indicators of where the enemies were, thankfully. By the end of the segment, I was lucky enough to live with barely any health left. That’s really all I could ask for when the alternative was the nightmare of playing through the segment yet again.
Star Trek is basically Warframe with a Star Trek skin on top, impotent by comparison protagonists, and a dumb companion that makes every mission a solo one. With the game’s release coming just under a month before Star Trek Into Darkness, any Trekkie should have been a bit suspect and the game only proves that suspicion correct.
Available on: PC, PS3, Xbox 360; Publisher: Namco Bandai; Developer: Digital Extremes; Players: 1 – 2; Released: April 23, 2013; ESRB: Teen; MSRP: $59.99: Official Site
Note: A retail copy was provided to Denkiphile for review purposes by the publisher.