Quick Look: Star Trek

Kirk may be all smiles, but I fear that beneath the charm lies a sad, beaten, red shirt.

Vinny Caravella on Google+
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Giant Bomb Review


Star Trek: The Video Game Review

  • PS3

Set phasers to "shun."

J.J. Abrams' reboot of the Star Trek universe has certainly made the franchise into a more outwardly adventurous and thrilling one. I loved old Star Trek for its more thoughtfully measured sci-fi storytelling, but Abrams' first movie (and by early accounts, the forthcoming second film was well) breathed new life into the franchise in a way that the last couple of movies and TV series clearly couldn't. By bringing the action and the adventure to the forefront, Star Trek was suddenly thrilling for the first time in many, many years.

Enjoy this shot of people commanding the Enterprise, because you won't get to do much of that in Star Trek: The Video Game.

Unfortunately, that shift toward action and adventure has its drawbacks. Namely, it gave Digital Extremes the excuse to turn Star Trek: The Video Game into the most rote, drably unimaginative third-person shooter you could think of. Because when you think of Star Trek and video games, you immediately think of Kirk and Spock starring in their own cheap knockoff of Gears of War, right? Right...?!?

Which isn't to say that a third-person shooter featuring cooperative Kirk and Spock gameplay couldn't be done well, but Digital Extremes failed to realize such a concept with any measure of quality. Built as a sort of in-between story to the two Abrams films, Star Trek features Kirk and Spock trapped in a mess featuring angry alien interlopers, shadowy Starfleet politics, and a giant MacGuffin of a device that tears holes in the universe, powers entire planetary colonies, and probably does some other stuff the writers forgot to bother explaining.

This is not a well-told story, mind you. It starts out promisingly enough, immediately acknowledging the last dangling problem left hanging at the end of the 2009 film, namely that of how to resettle the now nearly extinct Vulcan race. The device in question was purportedly built to help set up the Vulcans on a new planet, but the vile, reptilian Gorn have arrived and simultaneously stolen the device, while infecting various human and Vulcan innocents with some kind of zombie disease. Thus, it is up to Kirk and Spock (with occasional help from the rest of the Enterprise crew) to dispatch the Gorn, get the device back, and save the day.

Fine, except for the part where nearly everything you do in Star Trek is a terrible bore. As a third-person shooter, Star Trek is at its most effective when all you're doing is shooting. The weaponry and mechanics of combat are mostly fine, in that you can effectively use cover, aiming works as it should, and there's a decent variety of secondary weapon options to play around with. Granted, even the combat isn't devoid of problems. Enemy AI is horrendously bad, often finding itself hung up on pieces of the environment, or otherwise just standing around looking in the opposite direction while you walk right up on them and start pumping phaser blasts into their idiotic backsides.

The Gorn essentially make for a cheap Locust stand-in in this Gears of War clone. They're all snarl and ugly, and no real personality to speak of.

Worse, however, is your accompanying AI. You can have a friend (either online or off) pick up the role of whichever character you don't choose to play as, and that's recommended, because having the computer pick up the slack often results in hilarious misadventures. Watch as your AI companion runs straight into a wall and refuses to stop running, no matter how many times you command him to do otherwise, or gawk as he actively ignores your desperately injured body, doing absolutely nothing while you bleed to death ten feet away.

Fortunately, outside of the occasional ceiling opening that you'll have to help your partner boost up to, or the few doors that require both of you to mash buttons to pry them open (ugh), there's not really much cooperation required. The only time the game does anything remotely interesting with the co-op mechanics is when you're handed a transporter gun that lets you beam your partner to specific transporter pads in a zero-g environment. These transporter puzzles aren't more than a minor brain-teaser in an otherwise straightforward shooter, but any moment that actually requires minimal critical thinking is a welcome distraction in this dullard of a game. Unfortunately, that bit is tragically fleeting, and within minutes of going through that section, you're right back to lazily shooting evil lizard men.

This lackluster adventure drags on for at least a few hours too many, mostly due to the lame number of "go find the missing power cell" or "go hit the many, absurdly spread out switches to continue" missions the game pads itself out with. It's dreadfully boring stuff, made even more dreadful by the tragic lack of enthusiasm from those forced to explain to the players just what the hell is going on. All of the major actors from the film's cast are on-hand to voice their characters, at least. Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto do the lion's share of the talking, and most of their dialogue boils down to them pointing out to each other (but more accurately, the player) literally whatever is going on right in front of them. Do you need to hit a switch somewhere? Then at some point, both Spock and Kirk will say aloud that one of them needs to go hit a switch somewhere, over and over, until you hit that damnable switch. The story-based dialogue is obviously a bit better, but none of the actors seem particularly enthusiastic about the lines they've been handed. Quinto sounds stiff (even for a Vulcan), and Pine's boyish charms are mostly lost amid the many weak one-liners he's been handed.

More action in Star Trek is hardly a terrible thing, but this game has literally nothing else going on besides action. And that action also kind of sucks.

It's not even a particularly good looking game, which is criminal when you consider that it has one of the most exciting visual designs of any current film franchise to work off of. Hell, half of what made Star Trek so great was the sheer scope and variety of the movie's visual palette. Joke about light bloom all you want, but the movie looked incredible. This game looks anything but, with atrocious animations, lip-syncing that hardly ever syncs, and crummy environments that look straight out of this console generation's earliest years.

There are glitches and other unfortunate quirks to talk about, but those problems barely register over the din of utter mediocrity that pervades so much of Star Trek: The Video Game's campaign. Outside of a horrid, poorly-explained turret sequence in which you (barely) pilot the Enterprise in battle, there is scarcely an acknowledgment anywhere in this game that Star Trek fans might want to do something other than just run around and shoot aliens. Such a concept ultimately belies the very point of Star Trek in practically all of its many incarnations. But even if you can get past this strange misunderstanding of what makes Star Trek tick, you won't be able to get past the desperate lack of imagination and hamstrung functionality of Star Trek: The Video Game.

Alex Navarro on Google+
Edited by NTM

Captain's log, stardate 66785.2 We... Seem to have made a mistake here. This game is absolutely rote and yet highly unintelligible; the crew and I can't seem to figure out why it exists here, or anywhere else. We'll see if we can beam it into space; it may be our only option. As spock would put it, it's quite illogical.

Edited by william_james

<p>hey chill out man. I'm a die hard fan of star wars and i just love both this game and JJ's movie. check my user review on gamespot for the pc version under the name of SNOB49. Peace</p>

Posted by dropabombonit

Do not ENGAGE with this game. Spocklock this one away

Posted by Ghostiet

@zevvion said:

I just don't see how spamming 10/10 with such poor explanation would convince anyone to buy it. Some people may be stupid, but I'd like to believe that's such a small amount of people that it just makes no sense to do that stuff.

But perhaps I am being naive about that as well.

It's not a small amount of people, really. Look at the comments sections under reviews on this site - people go batshit over a score that is ultimately completely meaningless, since it reflects the opinion of a single person. It's because a typical human requires and seeks confirmation and justification of his opinions. If you're looking forward to something, it's much easier to reassure you than to make you change your stance.

Edited by Ganthet2814

So I take it if the developers do not send review copies of a game out. That it is auto bad. I think the last one that was reviewed here that was bad they had to go buy as well. Plus this game looked like every other 3rd person shooter. Move from cover to cover while your AI buddy talks and looks at the scenery. Also it is a movie game and we all know those are never bad right? ;)

Also watch the Quick look it pretty much shows you that this game is not very good.

Edited by DocHaus

Set phasers to "shun"

Sad, but inevitable cash-in game huh.

Edited by Pop

I just want to comment on "Set phasers to "shun" "

Good job Alex 10/10 on the joke meter.

Posted by wardcleaver

@ghostiet said:

@zevvion said:

I just don't see how spamming 10/10 with such poor explanation would convince anyone to buy it. Some people may be stupid, but I'd like to believe that's such a small amount of people that it just makes no sense to do that stuff.

But perhaps I am being naive about that as well.

It's not a small amount of people, really. Look at the comments sections under reviews on this site - people go batshit over a score that is ultimately completely meaningless, since it reflects the opinion of a single person. It's because a typical human requires and seeks confirmation and justification of his opinions. If you're looking forward to something, it's much easier to reassure you than to make you change your stance.

zevvion's point still stands. The people you are talking about are going to buy the game regardless of the review. They do not need to be convinced.

However, for most people who are undecided, spamming some perfect reviews with hyperbole is probably not going to convince them to buy.

Edited by fetchfox

The punmaster strikes again! Two stars ey, not surprising.

Posted by Spiritof

Posted by DG187

2 stars on a CBS game, that's when you know you can trust giantbomb.

Posted by Jayzilla

They set my phaser to gun?

Edited by Nodima

Normally I don't read many of the comments, but watching so many people miss the clear satire in @orbitalshaders post was a perfect companion to this Clippers-Grizzlies game.

Posted by Crono

Excellent opening pun. Was more than enough to get me to read the snarktastic review. 5/5 for review, would read again.

Posted by RealNewby

I really had high hopes for the Star Trek game, but it seems like there were too many issues. That's too bad because I really wanted to play another co-op game. More importantly, I wanted to spend time on the Enterprise like Shepherd spent time on the Normandy during Mass Effect.

Posted by Enigma_2099

@orbitalshaders: I bet you even have Star Trek porn. Alex KNOWS bad games. And if he says it's bad, trust me... it's BAD.

Posted by sometimesavowel

@Nodima Sounds like someone is being given an insane benefit of the doubt.

Btw, Finals will be Knicks and Spurs. Money on Knicks taking it in at least 5 :p

Posted by AzlamOrlandu

Bottom line is, you guys suck and you can stuff your lies where they came from (your ass). I can't wait to play the game and see the new movie.

Yep, "Bottom line". Sounds reasonable.

Edited by AzlamOrlandu

@alex said:

@orbitalshaders: Are you a real person?

I'm starting to suspect that Alex is the Sushi-X of this site. :P

Edited by Deusoma

@enigma_2099 said:

@orbitalshaders: I bet you even have Star Trek porn. Alex KNOWS bad games. And if he says it's bad, trust me... it's BAD.

Well the real problem is, Alex doesn't know good games. He's almost completely incapable of giving a positive review of anything, and I don't feel I can trust his opinion. :\

EDIT: Oh, and duders? Don't feed the trolls. It's entirely possible that this game is "good" or "okay", but no one in the universe will ever think it's "perfect" or better than games like Halo or Gears of War.

Posted by Doomsday65

I bought this game on Tuesday and traded it for a used PS2 on Friday terrible game and disappointed . So many damn bugs and I was kind of looking forward to it. How hard is it to make a damn Star Trek game?

Edited by MonkeyKing1969


And to think the vision this developer had for THIS generation of gaming was the video above...

I'll be charitable and guess Paramount and the Roddenberry estate could have made making this game too hard for any real vision to occur. But in that case what a waste; what is the point of snagging a great developer like Digital Extremes and not letting them run with you property to make something cool.

Then again, while this was being made what was DE doing? Seem like they were making WarFrame and The Darkness 2. Sounds like what happened to Aliens: Colonial Marines. In the case of Aliens, Gearbox took it eye off the more interesting game they were SUPPOSED to be working on (but they didn't own) to tinker with their own stuff. Was Digital Extremes stupidly start up production of The Darkness 2 and Warframe when they really should have focused all efforts on Star Trek? If you try to work out a timeline it appears that when they signed teh contract for Star Trek they woudl have been half way ot more through The Darkness 2...did ST money pay for finishing up that game? You have to wonder if a 'forensic accounting' of Digital Extremes books would turn up Star Trek money being used for people working on The Darksiders 2 project.

Did Namco Bandi just get burned on Star Trek like Sega did on Aliens, did they money go down a hole for other games?

Edited by WaltJay

This is actually a higher score than I thought it would get. This game sounds awful.

Edited by IanYarborough

That has to be the best tag line for any Giant Bomb post, ever. Your reviews make me happy, @alex.

Edited by Godlyawesomeguy

@orbitalshaders: HAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHA

Funniest comment I've ever read. Brilliant, mate.

Edited by jakob187

Given that the game was shown off AGES ago at E3 and is just now coming out, I have a feeling that there is some "rush-job-just-to-get-some-money-from-the-publisher" stuff going on here. I mean, Digital Extremes knocked it out of the park with The Darkness, and Warframe has been pretty damn awesome so far. Therefore, it's weird to see them drop this steaming turd without thinking that it's just licensed work for the sake of helping to fund the other games.

Posted by AURON570

I'm pretty excited for this Mass Effect 1 re-imagining.

Posted by WickedCobra03

I'm kind of sorry that it isn't at least a fun licensed romp worth $25 or $35 eventually with a really great story and like Alex said, with the effects, just a fun popcorn movie-game tie-in. I don't even mind paying like $25 or so for a game like this, but this might be a game that I pick up for $7.49 like 3 years down the road as a curiosity piece more than anything.

Edited by Kevitivity

Ya, it's probably very dull, but I'll probably still rent it.

Posted by theTimeStreamer

no? it sucks? no. how could this suck?

Edited by Seppli

I am kinda excited for the Wii U. I think its dualscreen/touchscreen concept could translate in fresh and amazing games.

That said, I'm simply not on board with Nintendo's insistence on peddling inferior outdated hardware processing power-wise. There's just so much time for gaming, and I will not be spending my time on Nintendo's games, built in a fidelity and scale I've been used too for almost a decade now.

I'm sorry to say, but I need an increase in fidelity and scale, and Nintendo's failure to be competitive in that regard has all but sealed their fate. The Wii U is obsolete, because I expect bigger and better things from the next generation.

I do not doubt that Nintendo will deliver quality first party titles, all of which I'd want to play, if I could - but I don't have unlimited time on this earth, and I'd rather play higher fidelity larger scale experiences, the likes of which Nintendo's Wii U system will fail to deliver.

The worst thing about this story is, Nintendo actually had the money this time around, to develop a true next gen system and directly compete with Microsoft and Sony. If Nintendo would have prepared to launch alongside Sony and Microsoft, with competitive hardware, and a modern online environment...

Oh well, Captain Hindsight to the rescue...

Posted by mattoncybertron

went out to a redbox and checked it out, barely worth the $2. got a few laughs out of the glitches/brokeness though.

such a bummer, and I think everyone was already expecting mediocrity and it couldn't even meet that. :(
there are a few good ideas and moments, but its like looking for the enjoyable part of a sundae littered with shit sprinkles

Edited by Lind_L_Taylor

An excellent review for a shit game. Although I was expecting only 1 star.

Posted by Saga

I won't waste my time or money

Edited by HellknightLeon

Ok guys, it's my turn. Let me think... oh I got one!

Set phasers to phase.

Posted by Cold_Wolven

I wonder if the next generation will become so expensive to develop for that no publisher will want to fund movie tie ins, one can hope.

Posted by ChriScaflowne

Eh, it's no Deadly Premonition...

Edited by FieryPhoenix68

I just recently finished playing through this post-patched PC game with a friend and have written a review. We both think the game is underrated and enjoyed our foray into the Star Trek universe. Keep in mind that most of the reviews you encounter about Star Trek: The Video Game were written just after the game was released before the developer had a chance to come up with a patch. So keep that in mind when reading about countless bugs and reviewers saying they were unable to finish the game in co-op mode.

If you really like the new Star Trek movies and the main cast then this game is offering you something no other game can. The main cast have lent their likeness and voices to the game.You get to play as either Kirk or Spock and go on an epic mission doing amazing things in the pursuit of reptilian aliens who pose a great threat to the universe!

Some of the highlights for me were watching Spock through the scope of my Star Fleet Phaser rifle and picking off the enemies around him as he went to activate a bridge. Swimming through subterranean waterways together. Flying through the air wearing wingsuits and being thrown into an arena initially weaponless and then be forced to fight Spock in hand-to-hand combat! Though there are only several weapons they are pretty cool.

Having said all that I can't wholeheartedly recommend the game for two reasons. The first is that it is a polarizing game. Many enjoy it, many don't. The second is because it still has bugs though they didn't end up spoiling the game for my friend and I. Below are two of the bigger ones..

* In the first encounter with the Gorn if Kirk was the first one to go up the ladder the player will suddenly find himself at the bottom of the ladder looking up and unable to play and Spock fights the Gorn alone. If Spock goes up the ladder first the game continues on normally.

* We found that if you go through three checkpoints on the Gorn mothership toward the end of the game and resume play on another day the game takes you back to the start of the mothership incursion completely ignoring those completed checkpoints. So give yourself a leisurely two hours to complete this part of the mission in one go.

If you are an easy-going, fairly uncritical gamer that doesn't mind playing linear games and you like Star Trek consider trying it out. It's only $14.99 at Steam at the moment.

Andrew Burgon

Project Fellowship