What makes gamers everywhere cringe all at once? When a video game is created based off a popular movie. Very rarely does this idea ever truly work out, because it always just feels scheme-ish in nature. It is just another way for a big company to try and make money off the little guy. You can be as objective as you want going into Star Trek. By the end of it, you won’t only feel unsatisfied; you will be vehemently upset that this was actually made.
The plot – if it can even be called that – revolves around evil alien lizards – the Gorn – stealing a powerful device that will help them conquer the universe…plots don’t get much deeper than that, do they? Oh wait, there’s a beautiful girl that needs to be rescued as well; can’t forget that one-of-a-kind gem. The plot – simply put – is just plain trash. It’s supposed to be a story-driven game, but you want nothing to do with the story. The only emotion it evokes out of you is anger, but that is just a side-effect of playing this game.
Well, if the story isn’t good, then at least the game can look pretty, right? Wrong. Spock and Kirk look good, and that misleads you to thinking the game will as well. Once the game gets moving, the awkward animations and duplicated environments kill any chance of being drawn in by pretty looks. At first, the Enterprise looks well-designed and colorful, but as the game proceeds, you feel like you are running down the same hallway every time. When you move to another spacecraft, it feels just like the Enterprise. It only gets worse when you land on alien planets, since they all appear the same, each with a boring, brownish color palette. Not only that, but even the Gorn’s ships are based off an array of browns.
Okay, so the game’s current tally is 0-2, with story and graphics both in the negative. That’s okay, as long as the gameplay is fun and rewarding. Will you be surprised at this point if I said it wasn’t? Star Trek’s gameplay was confusing, misleading, and generally a letdown. The worst part about it is you can see how hard the developers are trying. It isn’t just a third-person, cover-based shooter. It has stealth, climbing, puzzles, level progression, action sequences, and co-op functions as well. By all rights, it has everything that should present a well-made, diverse game. Sadly, it just doesn’t come through.
You can be Kirk or Spock, and there are some small differences between them, but nothing substantial enough to warrant one character being better than another. It supports local co-op and online co-op, but of course, you can play by yourself with an A.I. partner. As you would expect, the A.I. isn’t too bright and you do all the fighting yourself. That goes for the enemy A.I. as well, since they show practically no signs of intelligence either. They will charge across the battlefield until they stand only two feet away, and then shoot their weapon. They hide behind cover awkwardly, usually leaving some body part exposed for you to shoot. They don’t flank or work together; in fact, some will just stand in the open not doing anything. It’s basically one big, awkward shooting range.
The biggest problem is the overall mechanics, which are a clunky, cumbersome mess. There is hesitation in almost all the character movements. This ranges from attaching to cover, turning around, aiming your weapon, sprinting, and basically everything. There can’t be any awkward pauses when you’re in a firefight. Then there are some aspects that are simply strange and make you wonder what the developers were thinking. The blind-fire is just as accurate as aiming, but with more perks, like staying behind cover or being able to run-and-gun with perfect accuracy. It actually makes aiming pretty pointless in this game. You also can’t melee an enemy unless you stun them first, which will leave some pretty awkward situations as you try to shoot an enemy only a couple feet from you.
All Star Trek fans will understand instantly when I said the word stun, because they will know you can have your phaser set to kill or stun. Every weapon in this game has two firing functions. The stun is useful during stealth moments or at times in the game where you don’t want to kill the enemy. At these moments, the game will give you a small side objective that, upon completion, will grant you a commendation rewarding you with extra experience to level up your character. It’s not as deep as it sounds, and the commendation requirements aren’t hard; they simply make the game more of a chore than it already is. Luckily, the developers were wise and made these extra, so failing them won’t give you a game over.
That’s the repeating factor to Star Trek: a boring chore. There are some areas where you need to climb and jump, which gives the game a small platforming element. It sounds smart to change up the gameplay, but it isn’t creative, fun, or even useful. It slows the gameplay down, and when you get past these moments, you think to yourself, “Why was that even in the game?” The sad part is there are so many of those moments that it really starts to make the game unbearable.
The same can be said for the puzzle component of the game. There are moments where you need to hack something, and just like Dead Space, hacking is a mini-game puzzle. They are never challenging, and since there are only three versions of hacking, it gets repetitive very quickly. Hacking is okay when it is an option, such as destroy this turret or hack it so it fights for you. That is a good use of the system, but hacking doors constantly is a drag. It’s understandable when there is a big room of enemies and you need to hack the door to leave. This makes you fight everyone or sneak by unnoticed since you need time to hack the door. However, a majority of the time you are hacking random doors that really have no need of being hacked, and again, it just slows the game down more. Hacking actually gets so annoying and tiresome, I just made my partner do it the entire time. I would literally rather stand there and do nothing than hack another door. You also have your trusty Tricorder to scan stuff, see through walls, and hack things remotely. After using it a couple times, it was easy to see how tedious it would become, and it certainly didn’t disappoint in that regard. You need to use it, of course, but you won’t want to.
On top of all this, there is the atrocious amount of bugs to really drive the game’s worth down. Bullets will occasionally pierce cover, making it pointless to hide behind it. There are times when the story won’t move onward because somehow a key trigger was missed. I even had to restart a checkpoint once because I walked through a door too quickly, or something equally trivial. Sometimes when an enemy dies, they will just stand there like they’re still alive, which makes for some very confusing battles. One moment was completely outrageous when three enemies were actually dead, but still standing, and I had to keep in mind which three were actually dead so I wouldn’t shoot at them as I was trying to fight off a horde of lizards.
The game is simply poorly made overall, but the worst part is when you can see what could have been an amazing moment in the game. There are multiple moments when you fly through space, dodging pieces of debris. These should be exhilarating moments with pounding music, big explosions, speedy maneuvers, and breathtaking scenes, but like everything else in the game, they feel like a hassle and nothing more. There was a moment where the gravity was askew so you could be fighting enemies upside down, and, again, it sounds like great fun, but that’s not how it feels. It’s as boring as the rest of the combat.
There has to be some good right? Yes, at the very least, there are a few positives. The voice acting is by the actual actors and is well done. The banter between Kirk and Spock will cause you to chuckle a few times. There are little phrases characters say that trekkies will instantly latch onto and recognize. The musical score has its moments as well, which makes the game more bearable at the very least. The enemies at least vary, so you don’t feel like you’re shooting the same lizard every time. Not that the game ever gets challenging; the only time you die is most likely a result from some poor game mechanic that shouldn’t happen anyways.
I will give it to the developers for trying, but trying just isn’t good enough. You cannot simply throw in a ton of different gameplay features and expect the game to be fun. There is something fundamentally wrong with this game on its most basic levels. The only people to truly enjoy this game are die-hard trekkies that just want fan-service and nothing else. Actually, Star Trek fans may be the most upset by this travesty, since it is such a poor representation of what Star Trek can be. From start to finish, this game was a chore and a complete drag to play through. Please Scotty, beam me to someplace this game doesn’t exist.
This review is based off a retail copy of the PlayStation 3 version of Star Trek developed by Digital Extremes and published by Namco Bandai Games and Paramount Pictures. New Gamer Nation was provided with a complimentary copy of the game.
- Fan Service
- Ugly Visuals
- Extremely Buggy
- Game Mechanics are Not Fun