Here we go again, another movie tie-in game that is launched conveniently alongside the movie in obvious, albeit usually rather successful, attempt to bring in money for both the movie and game alike. I know what you are thinking, movie tie-in games are usually dire, and even with a super franchise like Star Trek, surely they couldn’t pull off a feat rarely seen in the gaming industry, a good movie to game crossover. Well, sadly, you would be right. Star Trek: The Video Game falls foul to the same issues that plague almost every game of this nature and fails to evoke any feeling other than frustration.
But, before we get to the negatives, lets start off with what is by far the games best area, its presentation. Although the graphics are far from the forerunners they are also far from terrible. Although some of the character animations are frequently jerky, the character models at least are very nicely rendered and every character is instantly recognisable from the movie from Kirk to Spock to Chekov and so on. The environments are also pleasant as well, with the spaceships looking exactly how you expect and the planets suitably arid. The Gorn you face have, thankfully, undergone some cosmetic surgery since the original series and look convincing enough as your primary foes in the game. All is well on the sound front as well, with all the main characters from the film providing voice work. This can sometimes feel phoned in when movie actors try voice recording for games, but in this instance the entire cast put in strong performances. This accompanies the strong musical score, which is also in keeping with the film and crescendos at all the right times, providing a good level of auditory immersion.
Sadly, that is about where the positives end. When it actually comes to playing the game, everything begins to unravel. Star Treks main issue in this regard is that it has spread itself too thinly over too many slices of bread. Rather than picking one or two core mechanics and making sure they work, the developers seem to have decided on a ‘get everything in there somehow’ policy that falls flat on its face. Predominantly, this is a third person shooter game but it has bits and bobs of everything, from platforming to hacking mini-games with RPG-lite character development elements.
You play as either Kirk or Spock and the game is designed to be played in co-op, so even when playing solo you will have an ever present companion to keep you company. Unfortunately, the AI of said companion is woefully dire. They will be gleefully reluctant to do anything to help, ever. One of the worst gripes I have with the game is with the ‘stealth’ elements. The game frequently encourages you to stick to cover and keep out of sight, however your companion will rarely, if ever, go into cover. The best part of all this is the enemies will not notice you as long as the controlling player is in cover, meaning your AI companion and an enemy can have a staring contest two feet away from each other, but as long as you are in cover, the enemy will remain totally oblivious to your presence. In all fairness, the game is more fun when played with a friend in tow, although convincing a mate to play this with you might ruin your friendship forever.
The shooting is clunky and unsatisfying and the controls are some of the least responsive I have ever encountered in 20 years of gaming. Trying to get your character out of cover is a Herculean task as is making it across the most basic of platforming sections simply because your character will be maddeningly reluctant to do anything you tell him to. Combine this with the fact that the game makes a rookie mistake of checkpointing before long, unskippable cutscenes and cheap boss’ who sponge damage but can kill you in a matter of hits, even on easy difficulty and overall you are left with a game that is very hard to garner any enjoyment out of. It genuinely feels as if the developers want you to give up.
I really wanted to like Star Trek: The Video Game. I am a huge fan of the series and the J.J Abrahams movie adaptations in particular, so I really gave the game a chance. But every time I load up the disk I find a new reason to turn it off again. It has not soured my taste of the Star Trek universe as a whole, but it does provide a stark reminder that movie tie-in games are pretty much always drivel. It is a real shame as well, because developer Digital Extremes have proved they can do better as recently as last year (The Darkness 2), but any company that gets a movie license to build a game around seems to immediately think of it as a free pass to make any old rubbish they desire.
If you are the biggest Star Trek fan on the planet, and you positively need a Trek game in your life, then by all means get this game. Unless you are that person, do not buy this game. It is as simple as that. I’m sorry Star Trek, you deserve better.
If you want to know more about the game or just fancy a chat, like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/zero1gaming or follow me personally on twitter @dowgle. Check out trailers for both the game and the highly anticipated movie it relates to, Star Trek Into Darkness below.