Star Trek - PS3 Review
Ever since I was a young boy I've been a fan of Star Trek. Some of my fondest childhood memories are spending time at my dads friendís house in Melbourne watching Captain Kirk and the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise dealing with, or battling, aliens while my father played snooker in the background. This love of the sci-fi franchise grew stronger when Star Trek: The Next Generation hit TV screens in my teenage years, and has continued to this day with much respect for J.J. Abrams recent reboot - which saw the return of the original crew, aleit with new actors filling the roles.
|The U.S.S. Enterprise bridge looks fantastic.|
This Star Trek video game takes place between the events of the two J.J. Abrams feature films and sees Kirk and Spock answering a distress call from a star base being torn apart by a binary star. On the star base Kirk and Spock meet a female Vulcan scientist named TíMar, the captain of the space station and childhood friend of Spock. While on the ship they learn about the Vulcan race trying to rebuild their civilization New Vulcan, a planet that orbits a binary star, upon which they encounter the great Vulcan leader Surok who is a lone survivor following an attack by a race known as the Gorn. But why are the Gorn attacking?
Despite the story being written by Marianne Krawczyk (who wrote the superb God of War II on PS2) in conjunction with Alex Kurtzman and Bob Orci the plot really is pretty thin for a Star Trek, well, book, TV show, or game. In reality, this is a pretty mindless third person co-op shooter where you play as either Kirk or Spock, either online or offline, with either a friend or the CPU taking control of the character you neglected to choose. Unfortunately the developers claims that Star Trek would be more than just a third person action/shooter seem somewhat inaccurate.
|Star Trek is a co-op focused game.|
Not only is little incentive to explore the various locations in the game, but the puzzles are generically boring at best - match up the frequencies, guide a dot through a maze and so on. We really expected the developers to push the envelope here with something more akin to Bioware's Mass Effect with multiple races, a branching storyline, and more variety with perhaps a little space travel and battles thrown in for good measure.
From Digital Extremes, the makers of The Darkness II we expected something moderately impressive from this title, but it's just so generic and bland. The locations are bland, the Gorn enemies, even with varied types, look poor with average animations and models while the actual action sequences are dull at best. Your character can scan the environment to locate enemies or items of interest, and with close scans it's possible to earn experience which can then be used to increase weapon and equipment stats or character abilities.
|New character Surok features in Star Trek.|
At some points in the game friendlies will become infected and you can use your phaser to stun them before knocking them out. Then again you could just kill them - there doesn't appear to be an enemy. If playing solo you have the option to complete puzzles to unlock items, or disable gun turrets. If you're bored of the game, or lazy, you can simply tell your AI partner to do it instead. Needless to say, there's rarely any need for the game to be co-op, you won't need to solve puzzles together. Star Trek isn't a horrible game, it's just so generic and below what we expected for the franchise, and from the developer.
We also hoped that the Space Battle sequence, where you get to pilot the Enterprise through a pretty battle with Gorn ships would impress, however it's one of the weakest aspects of the game. We would certainly have hoped for something similar to Wing Commander or X-Wing Vs Tie Fighter games of many years ago however it's not even close. Itís confusing, boring and lasts about 5 minutes in total.
|Visuals in this game look impressive.|
There are several other elements of this game which simply disappoint - it's pretty short with a length of about 6-8 hours (depending how much exploration and scanning you do), but without any competitive multiplayer, no promise of incoming DLC, and little incentive to go back and replay the game its value at $79 here in Australia has to be questioned. Also we were a little surprised, and disappointed, that there weren't any real links to the previous film - perhaps a "prologue" mission was warranted, or perhaps some ties to the now released sequel film Into Darkness, could have been incorporated into the game.
Upon first booting Star Trek our expectations for visuals were pretty high with a gorgeous camera pan around the Enterprise bridge with the main characters in their rightful place while Michael Giacchino's gorgeous theme music from the most recent films plays. When the game starts however it just looks, well, meh. Despite likenesses to their actors the characters look pretty average especially when moving or talking with poor lip-synching and facial animations. Despite the recreation of the Enterprise being pretty impressive many areas appear lifeless and sterile, there's certainly no "homely" Ten-Forward or crew quarters evident. Recreation of the Turbo Lift Shafts was touted as a selling point, but, well have you ever moved a character through an air vent? That's what it is.
|Alien worlds look superb in Star Trek.|
On a technical level the game has some pretty glaring issues too with clipping issues (it's not uncommon to blast an enemy through a wall), while your AI partner will often get in your way, or you'll lose the ability to even move around - we encountered in an early mission when helping your partner to the Medical Bay - at one point we couldn't even turn around!
Admittedly there are a couple of other positives including some pretty impressive CG sequences, especially external shots of the Enterprise when in battle. The game supports 3D for those with compatible TV's although given the quality of the visuals we're not sure if that's a big selling point.
|Incoming shuttlecraft to rescue Kirk and Spock.|
Audio is one of the games stronger points and that is certainly due to the use of the iconic Star Trek theme music, including the wonderful theme music used in the two recent films from Michael Giacchino. This certainly helps set the tone, but the games authenticity is assisted by the use of the actual actors to voice the characters including Chris Pine as Captain Kirk and Zachery Quinto as Spock - but all the other actors from the recent films have also provided their voices (and likenesses) to this game. While their dialogue occasionally misses the mark and sounds a bit off in terms of context and humour, there are some great lines here that fans will get a kick out of.
Sadly the effects, such as gunfire and explosions are good, but nothing too special. Overall though, the audio is certainly a strong point of the Star Trek video game.
|Spock attempts to escape the gunfire.|
The Star Trek universe has always been built on brains over brawn so it's a shame to see this is primarily a third person shooter, and not a great one at that. Sure, Star Trek is filled with little moments and reference to Star Trek lore, but it's not enough to lift this beyond mediocre and is really only a game for die-hard fans of the franchise.
Review By: Dave Warner
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|GRAPHICS||Some of the detail is impressive, but overall a mediocre looking game.||62%|
|SOUND||The music is fantasic, the dialogue is generally very good but average effects. Still, audio is the games strong point.||75%|
|GAMEPLAY||When I think star trek games I think diplomacy, not third person shooter. Even as a shooter it's sub-par.||55%|
|VALUE||It's not a long game, but co-op mode is fun. Still, at $79 it needs more to be great value, or even good value for that matter.||59%|
|OVERALL||I love Star Trek, I love action games, but this is just a disappointment all round. One for die-hard fans only.||60%|