Over the last week or so I’ve been dipping in and out of Digital Extremes’ Star Trek. Playing 20 minutes here, half an hour there. Usually I can sit through a game for at least an hour without getting fed up, but Star Trek changed that.
I’m a big fan of the new Star Trek films after having never bothered with the TV show (sorry!) so I was quite eager to get into Star Trek and see what was on offer. Now, I wish I hadn’t bothered.
It all starts out quite nicely, you’re thrown straight into a bit of cover-based combat against the Gorn, then it transpires that the section you have just played it 6 hours from now, so a flash-forward, if you will.
Like I say, it starts out pretty nicely. The characters are voiced by their original actors and it’s good to hear Simon Pegg, Chris Pine, John Cho and the rest of the cast reprising their respective roles. The cut-scenes were done well and thankfully avoided using any of that dreadful lens flare that plagued the movie. The initial introduction lulls you into that false sense of security, it’s an honest shock when you realise that it’s just another cash-in.
The story doesn’t hold together very well and feels disjointed and pieced together by numerous coincidences. It’s not helped much by the voice actors either, who on the screen manage to do a good job at making us believe they’re real people, but in the game just sound flat and bored. The banter between the two main characters who you can play as, Kirk and Spock, is at first a real joy to hear and you’ll even find yourself smiling at the familiar bickering between man and Vulcan, until you get about an hour in and it all just falls apart.
Spock’s dry lines are delivered with a side order of plain throughout the remainder of the game, and the rest of the cast seemed content with phoning in theie performances, dragging down the product with them. It’s a shame really. They’re a bunch of top actors and they probably received a tidy bit of cash for a few hours work, so the least that could have been done was to put on a bit of a show for the fans, because at the end of the day, this one is probably only going to be bought by pure Trekkies and a few grannies who thought they were picking up Star Wars for their grand kids.
The gameplay isn’t too bad in all fairness, you’ve got your cover-based shooter mechanics that for the most part function relatively well, then you’ve got your Uncharted-style platforming where you’ll be climbing along sections of the environment whilst only being able to cling to yellow ledges. Seem familiar? Uncharted…
Then there’s the levelling up side of things which is about as deep as a European toilet. There’s no skill required in levelling up and in all honesty I didn’t bother with it until I remembered it was there about halfway through. It’s uninteresting and a bit of a hassle to work out what’s the best to upgrade, there’s nothing to keep you interested.
Graphically the game has it going on, that has to be said. The cut-scenes are where the graphics really shine and show off the detail in characters faces, making them look eerily close to their real life counterparts, though still some way for the uncanny valley. Environments look great, even if they seem repetitive at times, but they really do throw you down into the Star Trek universe unlike any other game has managed. Although the game is graphically pleasing, it’s also full of bugs and glitches, some of which leave a stain on the pretty coating.
There’s the occasional clipping glitch that when I first encountered, I ignored. I blamed myself for wanting to walk in the particular direction that I did, so I restarted the game. Fast forward one loading screen and one cut-screen later and I’m stuck in the same glitch again. This time, I blamed the game and the cheap money behind it. Unfortunately, that’s not the worst of it. During cut-scenes there will often remain a mark on the screen, the aiming reticule. Yeah, I know, stupid. It just sits there on Chris Pine’s face like a little smudge then appears on Spock’s crotch and there’s nothing that can be done about it. It’s not the biggest thing of all, but it’s just a bit of a poor show by Digital Extremes.
Another annoyance you will encounter Spock’s magic powers. By that I mean he can magically go from super-clever Vulcan to super-thick Spock the Spacko in around four seconds. He’ll be running around like a child gone wild, shooting at things when you want to be hidden, walking off when you want to go in a lift, generally just being a bit of a dick.
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Note: Game was purchased by the author for the purpose of this review. (He deeply regrets not waiting for a review copy from publisher.)