Iâ€™m no Trekkie, but I have a lot of love for Star Trek - from the original 1960s television show, right through to the brilliant J.J. Abrams re-envisioning of the franchise. However, all of that love was brutally murdered like a bunch of nameless Red Shirts when I played the videogame which shamelessly shares its name.
Star Trek gets your hopes up by opening with a relatively decent premise. For starters, it delivers a whole new chapter of story that takes place between J.J. Abramâ€™s first movie (2009) and the most recent flick, â€˜Into Darknessâ€™. Our two faithful companions - Kirk and Spock - have been sent to the planet of New Vulcan to rid it of the evil Gorn, a race of lizard-men intent on destruction. In the original TV show, James T. Kirk dramatically fought a member of the Gorn using twigs and polystyrene rocks. Itâ€™s epic and you should watch it. Also, this short clip should set you up nicely for the pace of the game.
Most of Star Trek tries to play out as a third-person shooter, but occasionally it also attempts to take place onboard the USS Enterprise in galactic space battles, hijacking enemy ships and leaping off ledges in slow-motion. On paper it all sounds amazing, but the operative word here is â€˜attemptsâ€™.
Itâ€™s difficult to identify the particular aspects of Star Trek that cause this game to be so bad, simply because the entire game is broken. Itâ€™s as if the developers, Digital Extremes, played a range of top-selling third-person shooters and made a list of everything that didnâ€™t work from each... then put them all into this abomination of horror.
There is no AI in Star Trek. Instead you are surrounded by brain-dead moving chunks. Supposed teammates will often stand next to you staring blankly at nothing while you get shot in the face. Others will attempt to jump through solid walls and, amazingly, often get stuck so that they hover aimlessly looking sad. Enemies take cover, which is impressive. But they often decide to use you as cover, crouching down next to you like some sort of seedy gigolo looking for a job.
This level of heightened intelligence flows into the level designs too, so at least itâ€™s consistent. Often youâ€™ll have no idea where to go in a mission and youâ€™ll spend hours walking into dead-ends or into doors that refuse to open. And opening doors is sort of the primary objective for you in Star Trek. Youâ€™ll be running around like a mad-womanâ€™s sh*t grabbing power cells or some junk in an effort to open a door before a random timer runs out. Along the way you might shoot some poor Gorn in the back, because even heâ€™s confused by the map layout and gave up.
The gunplay is unimaginative and outwardly unfun. There is no attempt to bring in any role-playing elements or any sort of worthwhile upgrade system, and the â€˜collectiblesâ€™ in the game probably wouldnâ€™t even interest a die-hard Star Trek fan who still has an unopened original 1960â€™s Uhura action figure. The relentless repetition throughout the game will also grate on this same fan-base, many of whom will be desperate for a decent Star Trek videogame.
The visuals donâ€™t do this cluster-f*ck of a game any favours either. I couldâ€™ve made better character models out of mud in my backyard. The two main characters, Kirk and Spock, do resemble their real-life counterparts, but their emotionless, â€˜glued-onâ€™ static faces are often more terrifying than the reptilian Gorn (who you can usually find kneeling down next to your crotch.) The lip-synching is laughable (except youâ€™ll be crying) and there are times where the action onscreen consists of a fuzzy blur of objects. I spent a lot of time squinting my way through objectives. Oh, I just blew up my own space station? Meh.
I think the developers knew that the graphics werenâ€™t going to be Star Trekâ€™s strong point, so they devised some brilliant camera angles to help disguise the fact. My personal favourite was the â€˜in-floor camâ€™, where the camera would slowly sink low enough so that all you could see was feet and jagged textures from under the ground. The other effect is to have the camera bounce around like a drugged-up Jack Russell terrier so itâ€™s hard for players to distinguish individual components.
The most amazing thing about Star Trek is that it appears they managed to get the actual actors from the recent movies to voice their counterparts in game. Because of this, the vocals and soundtrack are definitely the highlight. And by highlight, we mean a little glimmer of light in a giant abyss of muck.
Finally, because of the bromance-factor-5000 of Kirk and Spock, you can inflict this catastrophe of a game on a fellow human being thanks to a two-player cooperative mode. Just make sure you choose someone a lot smaller than you as a teammate, because chances are youâ€™ll be wearing their fist in your face about thirty minutes in. Sulu, get us out of here. Please.