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MCM BUZZ – Movies, TV, Comics, Gaming, Anime, Cosplay News & Reviews » Star Trek: The Video Game Review
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Star Trek: The Video Game Review

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Oh Star Trek: The Video Game, I had such high hopes for you. You appeared to be doing so well when we spent some time together a few months back. What happened to you?

When I played a demo of the game previewed back in February, I was pretty positive about it. What I’d seen looked a step above your average movie release tie-in game. The unfortunate truth, as is sometimes the case, is that the section we were shown at that event didn’t accurately represent the experience I had sitting when down to play the finished product.

Let’s start with the game’s story, which had a lot of potential. It was avoiding the trap of sticking firmly to the upcoming film’s plot, it was going to be in canon with the film’s and would see a return to the Gorn, an enemy that appeared so briefly in the show and had so little existing lore surrounding it. Developers Digital Extremes appeared to have relative freedom to flesh the species out as they saw fit. However, the Gorn were ultimately reptilian targets that stole a superweapon just because they could. They have very little in the way of relatable motivation and ultimately felt like they were there just because Paramount were unwilling to let them have any other species.

The story overall can be summed up like this. Superweapon is stolen, shoot lizards until you get the superweapon back. There was one short lived small surprise turn at the end, but it wasn’t shocking enough to redeem the eight hours I’d played to reach it or the couple of hours following it.

It looks pretty good during combat. Movement and combat animations are good, the particle effects for weapons are strong and both Kirk and Spock look like their respective actors from the films. The problem is when you slow down to have scripted conversations about the plot or the mission at hand, things go downhill quickly. The characters lip synching is terrible, there’s a myriad of uncomfortable looking facial expressions on show, they have that oddly dead eyed look going on and you start to notice how weird the characters idle standing position looks. Outside of those situations it does look fairly good, with detailed environments and good visual effects, but it’s when the game is trying to tell a Star Trek story that its visual problems are most notable.

The levels I saw when previewing the game, namely an early mission set on a space station orbiting stupidly close to a star, were definitely the most interesting environments. Move away from that level’s flashy solar flare effects and the space station’s design and you’re left with a game where the majority of places you go to are generic alien structures comprised of lots of dark red and browns. Many of the locations lack any kind of personality, they just kind of exist without any discernible purpose.

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While the combat system is competent the game never challenges you with its enemies. The enemy AI is at times so broken that they’ll stand around forgetting to fight you, forcing you to treat them as fish in a barrel target practice. The puzzles are not much better, acting as a repetitive break in pace rather than helping me become absorbed in the experience. There are several sections where you’ll stop fighting to hack a terminal much like the last one you hacked, swim through some water, do some combat in space or something similar. None of these feel fleshed out and seem to be an arbitrary way to try and distract you from the stupidity of the lizard men you’re shooting at.

I also ran into constant technical issues, some of which I was able to recreate. They ranged from ladders that became unclimbable, scripted events that never loaded, invisible walls where doors had opened (preventing me from walking through them) and textures failing to load.

For the most part, Star Trek: TVG does a good job of capturing the personalities of the current movie series’ main duo of Kirk and Spock. The dialogue is occasionally a bit forced and awkward, relying too heavily on the same jokes and ideas over and over, but the voices are right and the dynamic of the duo remains largely intact. Unfortunately, the rest of the supporting cast had less effort put into their roles and they rarely feel how I would have expected them to.

A lot of focus has been placed on the co-op mode in the marketing and if you do play the game I highly recommend playing it with someone else. This isn’t because it’s a great co-op experience, but rather because when playing solo your partner’s AI will often be so bad they’ll get stuck on a piece of the environment and need rescuing. Co-op should reduce the hassle on that front. We were shown some interesting uses of co-op running up to the game’s launch, such as a segment where Spock carries Kirk to a med bay while Kirk shoots incoming enemies, but these moments are incredibly rare. For the majority of the game the only thing you’ll need your partner for is prying open large doors together and boosting someone up to a higher area.

The story is a decent length for a movie tie-in game, clocking in at around ten hours to play through. If you enjoy the experience there’s plenty to sink your teeth into. The soundtrack is also wonderful, doing a much better job than the rest of the game at capturing the essence of Star Trek.

In the end Star Trek: The Video Game was so close to being good, but just missed the mark by being rushed to launch with the film. Had Digital Extremes taken some additional time to do bug fixing and improve the AI, possibly polishing the levels so they all looked as interesting as the Space Station level, then I think we’d be having a very different conversation about the game. It came so close, but ultimately it isn’t the proof that movie tie-in games can work.

The game is available now for PS3, Xbox 360 and PC. The game was reviewed on Xbox 360. 

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