Star Trek Review
We see fewer and fewer movie tie-in games every year. Conventional knowledge would attribute that fact to the near universal suckiness of most tie-in games, but I'm still a little sad that they are becoming a thing of the past. Which brings us to Star Trek, a tie-in title that makes me regret lamenting the end of each summer blockbuster getting a video game. Ok, so it isn't the worst game I've ever played; it is, however, an absolute casserole of stolen ideas and broken gameplay mechanics that will try the patience of even the people profiled in Trekkies.
As has become the popular move for tie-ins, Star Trek doesn't follow the film it is releasing with. Instead, it sets the story between the first and second films in J.J. Abrams' rebooted universe, and smartly chooses its antagonist as the Gorn, an alien species known well by Star Trek fans and, to a lesser degree, Family Guy fans ("You can clearly see Loomis' coffee cup sitting on that rock!"). Anyway, the Gorn, who look a lot more like monsters than the rubbery-skinned ones you remember from the original TV show, steal a device being used to help create a new Vulcan homeworld. Naturally, Kirk, Spock and the rest can't let them have the Helios device - it could destroy the universe! So that's pretty much where the plot goes, and I'm sure you can fill in the rest. While it's neat that the developers picked a classic villain and set the game between the two films, you won't have any trouble seeing exactly where the story is going from beginning to end.
What you won't see, though, is any kind of graphics or textures that don't look like they are from the low-end of games released in 2005. The voice acting sees all the films' characters reprising their roles somewhat faithfully, but if I were Simon Pegg, Zachary Quinto or Chris Evans, I'd be super pissed at the developers for making my video game counterpart look like Buffalo Bill skinned me and wore my loose fitting epidermis to steal my place in the cast. The environmental design isn't quite as heinous as the character models, but Star Trek is a seriously ugly game.
If Star Trek was any fun to play, I could and would overlook the bad graphics. Unfortunately, it isn't. The gameplay is accurately described as a third-person cover-based shooter with some stealth thrown in here and there, but it is best described as brazen mechanics thievery from more than a handful of other, better games. It is also buggier than the farm next to my office when it's mosquito season and they forget to drain standing water, but we'll get to that in the next paragraph. Though the game throws in some variety as you go along (Kirk's bird suit drop you've seen in the Star Trek Into Darkness trailers), the first segment of the game pretty much covers the bases in ripping off your favorite titles. The Tricorder, operated by holding LB, is a sad imitation of Detective Mode in the Batman Arkham games. A climbing sequence is ripped directly from the opening of Uncharted 2. The over-the-shoulder shooting is like a slower-paced Gears of War or quicker-paced Resident Evil 4 or 5. The stealth parts invoke a sloppy Metal Gear. The painful door-opening puzzles call to mind too many games to even quantify. Even the font looks like it ripped directly from one of the Mass Effect titles. I'm not against borrowing ideas from other titles, the Darksiders series is a personal favorite, but when it's done so blatantly and without any sense of style, it is a tragedy. Part of the fun in getting through to the game's end was seeing what the developers would rip-off next, and how badly they'd muck it up.
The other motivator for finishing was discovering the numerous and often hilarious bugs in the game. In most places, players can play as Kirk or Spock, or both if a friend is along for this awful ride. When your other half is computer-controlled, things can often go haywire at a moment's notice. Need help to pry open a door in a QTE? Maybe Spock will show up to help, maybe he'll just stand around staring into space, leaving you totally stuck. Need to use a turbolift to get to the next area? Same story. The worst of the worst, though, all takes place during the bird suit drop I mentioned earlier. Players are told to avoid debris flying directly at them, but half the time you end up flying directly through rocks and mountains without a scratch. Other times, you'll try to evade and object and it will damage you anyway, even from halfway across the screen. Getting through this segment required me to divorce myself from all the gaming logic and reason I've gained over the years, as flying right through dangerous objects seems to be the only way to progress. By the end of the game, I was wondering if anyone had bothered to playtest this monstrosity, or if it was simply rushed out the door to match up with the new Star Trek film's release. Either way, it doesn't look good for fans who have patiently awaited a decent Star Trek game. This isn't it.
I remember well the movie tie-in game for G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. It was a bad game, but it is still on my shelf. Why? Because as underdeveloped as it was, as lame as it was compared to most shooters out there (I can't say ALL shooters - Resistance: Burning Skies is the worst of the worst), it was fun. It was the 3D Contra I dreamed about as a kid, and playing through was brainless, soulless amusement. Star Trek is also a bad game, but its stolen and broken gameplay, along with all the bugs, makes it a chore to get through. Even if you view it as a gaming exercise in Mystery Science Theatre 3000, it is still infuriating to the point that making fun of it loses its charm. I know there is a contingent of Trekkies out there that will buy anything with Star Trek emblazoned on it, and that's fine; buy it, put it on your display shelf and never, ever play it. That's what I did with DragonBall Z for Kinect!
Final Rating: 30%. Unfortunately, the bugs in this game aren't of the alien variety.