So guess who drew the short straw this time?
The majority of bad games I play at least start off promisingly enough before they trip into the abyss of mediocrity or worse. However, Star Trek begins that free-fall with a segment in which you, playing as either Spock or Kirk, must run from one end of a huge revolving engineering room to the other, constantly taking cover so that the core’s random energy blasts don’t damage you. Meanwhile, you also have to figure out where two switches are on this cyclical revolving wall/ceiling and shoot the first while you trust your brain dead AI partner to shoot the other one at the same time.
All of this is just as exhausting and annoying as it sounds. Star Trek betrayed the benefit of the doubt I extended to it by getting worse level by level, which in itself is a marvel. After each introduction to every inane segment, my initial thought was “This just has to be the worst part of this game. There’s no way it can go downhill from here.”
How wrong I was: Star Trek is Murphy’s Law in action
See, the majority of gameplay is ripped straight from Mass Effect, sans all the interesting bits. No branching dialogues. No characters you develop attachments to. It’s just an even more simplistic version of the combat from that series. You duck behind cover and shoot at your foes with your phaser and bigger weapons, like laser rifles and alien shotguns. Oh, and there’s a clumsy melee combat component where you have to stun your enemy to melee them, which means dashing out across no man’s land to nut punch them. The fact that you’re playing what is essentially a Star Trek modification of Mass Effect’s least interesting element wouldn’t be so bad if it was implemented properly. The combat isn’t only insipid, it’s broken. Enemy fire glitches through cover, damaging you. The enemy’s pathfinding is so poor that they’ll often run into one another and then just stand there in the middle of the battleground, ready to be picked off. During these encounters, you’re encouraged (via wave after wave of enemies) to rely on your AI partner who, again, is excruciatingly dumb. There were several instances where an enemy “downed” me and I had to wait for Kirk to come revive me. Unfortunately, he was too busy dodging enemy fire by running into a column. I died waiting and was promptly rewarded an achievement for doing so.
Besides the broken combat, there are also varied gameplay segments that are supposed to serve as relief from the tedious crux of the game. But they don’t. No, they actually manage to suck even harder. There are a handful of sections where you and your partner have to fly through space on miniature rocket skis, avoiding bits of debris as you fly through space. Sounds cool, right? But the game inverts the keys during these sections for some odd, totally unexplained reason.
There’s also another bit where you get to man the weapons systems on the Enterprise that should be really, really cool by default, like I’m sitting there and ready to almost forgive the game for all of its other sins if it can just nail this section. But it doesn’t; it falls flat on its face just like all the other segments. And there are a lot of these slipshod gameplay tangents too. So many that I became convinced the development team was aware of how bad their core gameplay was, so they tried to mix things up by creating this patchwork of crudely implemented features taken from the biggest franchises of this generation.
You can even start counting them off as you proceed through the game they’re so blatant. There’s a Portal level that’s out of place and unengaging. There are several Uncharted-esqueplatforming sequences used to poor effect thanks to awful camera angles. Oh and there’s a lengthy swimming section too…in a Star Trek game. In the quest of creating a game with impressive, diverse gameplay, Digital Extremes has delivered a half-baked mess that tries a lot of things all at once to cover up its numerous flaws but, in the end, only manages to exacerbate those issues. And that’s not even mentioning the glitches that are hiding in wait, ready to trip you up. I had to restart an entire level twice because a door wouldn’t slide open. There were six other times I had to restart a checkpoint because a scripted event wouldn’t trigger. I actually had to log out of the game, load up a Youtube walkthrough to make sure I wasn’t doing anything wrong and then tab back in to restart the checkpoint. This probably added an hour to what was already a grueling twelve hour experience.
The only two departments that the game manages to get things even close to right are its sound design and storytelling. All the sound effects are adequate enough. You’ll recognize the distinct sizzle of the phaser’s aftershot and the explosions sound explodey enough. The voice work is a mixed bag. For the majority of the time, Pine (Kirk) and Quinto (Spock) do an admirable job with what they’re given, as does Simon Pegg (Scotty). Everyone else is phoning it in, especially Karl Urban as Dr.McCoy.
The story is rather cheesy, which isn’t a problem. When dealing with the original Star Trek series or even Abrams’ version, you have to make room for some camp. The game takes place between the first movie and the soon to be released Star Trek: Into the Darkness. The Vulcans have created a “Helios” device that’s meant to help our pointy eared pals recover from the disastrous events of the first movie. Unfortunately, The Gorn, a bunch of creepy lizard dudes, steal the device with the intention of using its ability to rip holes in space to conquer and enslave the universe. It all basically amounts to an excuse to have Kirk and Spock save the day while exchanging what’s intended to be humorous banter. A taster:
Spock: “I believe we need to jump.”
Kirk: “I believe you’re right, Spock.”
This is about as witty as it gets, folks.
In the end, Star Trek is a crushing disappointment. It’s just pathetic that a series about exploring the possibilities of the universe has always received a by the numbers treatment from developers. What’s even more disappointing is that this game was given the OK to be released because it’s technically playable. It can be finished with much effort, but it’s beset by a ridiculous amount of glitches that will impede your progress over and over again. Star Trek certainly isn’t worse than its failed adaptation siblings The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct and Aliens: Colonial Marines in that department, but the fact that developers and publishers think it’s acceptable to release games that don’t function half the time as they should—and charge full price for them—is disheartening.
One day we might have a Star Trek game worthy of the franchise, but this Star Trek just isn’t that game. Not by a long shot.
- Reviewed On