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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Star Trek: The Video Game Review

2
  • 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+
139 Comments
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Edited by MooseyMcMan

My phasers are set to sad, but not surprised.

Posted by MildMolasses

Oh, an Alex review! Just let me undo my pants first...

Posted by Winternet

Set phasers to snark!

Posted by Hosstile17

Set phasers to sadness.

Posted by bombedyermom

BOOM

Edited by Milkman

"Set phasers to shun?"

Listen Alex, you're great and all but I can't support that.

Edited by SuperSmashSnake

I hope the spoilers I saw are not true about the new movie because they sound pretty dumb.

Posted by TheManWithNoPlan

Two 2 star reviews in a row. It really is a lean time for video games.

Posted by OrbitalShaders

Typical Star Wars fan bullshit. This game is a 10/10 and a must buy for anyone who likes Star Trek or science-fiction in general. The graphics are far superior to any modern game like Halo or Call of Duty and the game-play laughs at the "giants" like Gears of War or Tiger Woods. I wouldn't be surprised if this Alex or his Giant Bomb website got paid to slam this game by other companies that can't put out products of equal quality.

What bothers me is the lack of knowledge of not only the source material but also video games in general that this review shows. If you like good video games, you'll love Star Trek and even if you only want to experience one of the best stories ever told, you should give it a try.

The new movie is coming out soon and this game is a worthy companion to that 5-star masterpiece of story-telling and special FX.

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.

Edited by Yummylee

Sock time!

EDIT: Blarst! @mildmolasses beat me to the reference.

Posted by Alex
Edited by mellotronrules

set deck-lines to "pun."

or for the more cynical

set wordplay to "dumb."

(love you, alex.)

edit: fine one more

set @orbitalshaders to "fun"

Posted by Animasta

@orbitalshaders: so what is your position in digital extremes? graphics artist?

Posted by hi_im_rob

Set phasers to "shun."

Cheeky

Edited by alanm26v5

@orbitalshaders: Your post count says troll, but your silver medal leaves me confused.

And I guess I was interested or at least curious about getting this game until I saw the quick look.

Posted by Live2bRighteous
Edited by OrbitalShaders

@alex: Neither I or anyone on Metacritic's user reviews said anything that wasn't true.

Also regarding the bogus rumours circulating around the web that the PC co-op is broken: It works just fine for me. The game uses Steam servers.

Posted by EggplantWizard

*sigh* Can someone stop the recent screwing around with beloved sci-fi franchises long enough to make a decent game? This year in particular with Aliens and Colonial Marines too. The half-assery is so discouraging. I'm not saying good ones don't exist, but I'm glad we at least have some fresh originals out there like Bioshock Infinite to distract us from this fodder. They need to take a cue from Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon and how it oozes charm. Even if the gameplay turns out to not be all that great, at least show that you put a little love and care into the game so we can embrace it. You would think that would be so easy with franchises like Aliens and Star Trek too.

*sigh*

Posted by Alex

@orbitalshaders: You artfully dodged my question, so thank you for confirming to me that you are, in fact, not a real person.

Posted by Reisz

@alex: Don't engage the machines!

That's how it all starts. . . .

Posted by Krakn3Dfx

This review is only logical.

Edited by Nixon34

@orbitalshaders: You are a major reason why User comments are dumb. Your account was made one day after the game was released. Smells a whole like a your on the game's producer's payroll. Combine this with the fact that the game was not sent to any reviewers gives the undeniable impression of some marketing desperation.

Edited by Carlos1408

@orbitalshaders: From this post it sounds more like you've been paid to slam this review.

Edit: Great review btw Alex. From the footage I've seen the game looks truly awful.

Edited by OrbitalShaders

@alex: I wonder if I would be more believable if I didn't have an active subscription? Or did I ape the NeoGaf thread too much? Mmmm...

But in all seriousness a great review for most seemingly a terrible game. The picture I posted above is the lead producer who went around Steam forums saying the game works fine when no one could play it online. The original post was a remix of the terrible poop that is this game's 10/10 user reviews on Metacritic.

Have a nice weekend!

Posted by SefaRed
Posted by Alex

@orbitalshaders: Yeah, it was too perfectly shitty for something supposedly written in blind, trollish anger. I respect the effort, of course. But between the subscription and the too-perfect choice of language, I was pretty sure you were just screwing around.

Edited by Abendlaender

@nixon34:

I'm pretty sure the guy is joking ;)

He refers to a developer of the game on the steam forums who just posted "works fine for me. game uses steam servers" in a discussion about the non-functional co-op mode (without clarifying that he is a developer of course)

Edit: Well, a bit too late...

Online
Posted by goreyfantod

@orbitalshaders:

"This game is a 10/10..." "I can't wait to play the game..."

So, you know it's perfect but you haven't actually played it.

"Typical Star Wars fan bullshit." "...a must buy for anyone who likes Star Trek..."

Star Wars fans' opinions are full of shit because...? No one who likes Star Wars can also like Star Trek? Does this strict segregation apply to all sci-fi franchises in your world, or just Wars/Trek? For instance, can someone who likes Firefly also enjoy Battlestar Galactica, or is that also verboten? If I love Philip Dick am I also allowed to enjoy Ray Bradbury?

What about other genres - do you enforce a strict no-contact rule between, say, LoTR and Game of Thrones?

I'm just trying to understand the rules, 'cause I wouldn't want to step on any toes when choosing entertainment.

Edited by Brendan

I enjoyed reading both the real review, and the jok-ish troll review.

Edited by Nixon34

@abendlaender: Entirely possible, kind of like telling the joke and then forgetting to say the punch line though. Evidence pointed one direction, and with the incredibly sad and pathetic attempts at user reviews on metacritic, i figured a rat had wondered over to Giant Bomb.

Posted by DuffO

So does this game have a usable bamboo cannon that shoots some form of Alien Sand Diamond?

Posted by EarlessShrimp

Is it bad to enjoy reading reviews of sub-par games? Especially when one so artful as @alex pulls out his snarkiest internet quill and creates nothing short of a masterpiece every time?

Posted by BeachThunder

Is Alex real??

Posted by ElectricBeaver

Posted by Mister_V

@orbitalshaders: You know what dude. Fair play, I genuinely chuckled at your fake review.

The game however, looks terrible.

Posted by avantegardener

That is a fine bit of strap lining.

Posted by Zevvion

@nixon34 said:

@orbitalshaders: You are a major reason why User comments are dumb. Your account was made one day after the game was released. Smells a whole like a your on the game's producer's payroll. Combine this with the fact that the game was not sent to any reviewers gives the undeniable impression of some marketing desperation.

I really don't think any dev of publisher spends money on lame comments in comment sections. I think it's just some guy who really likes this game or looks forward to it, but feels that others should accept his opinion for their own as well.

Edited by blacklab

To be fair the entire reboot film centers around a big ol' MacGuffin.

Edited by Nixon34

@zevvion said:

I really don't think any dev of publisher spends money on lame comments in comment sections. I think it's just some guy who really likes this game or looks forward to it, but feels that others should accept his opinion for their own as well.

I think you should really check out the 10/10 and 9/10 reviews on metacritic for this game. They compare it to mass Effect in one of them. Another calls it on par with the best games that have come out this year. Trust me, The developer may not have time to go make up comments on websites, but the marketing team sure does.

Edited by Zevvion

@nixon34 said:

@zevvion said:

I really don't think any dev of publisher spends money on lame comments in comment sections. I think it's just some guy who really likes this game or looks forward to it, but feels that others should accept his opinion for their own as well.

I think you should really check out the 10/10 and 9/10 reviews on metacritic for this game. They compare it to mass Effect in one of them. Another calls it on par with the best games that have come out this year. Trust me, The developer may not have time to go make up comments on websites, but the marketing team sure does.

Well sure, they could. But I really doubt they are being paid for that. Then they are the overhyped fanboy I was talking about.

I haven't played or intend to play the game so I cannot say what score it deserves, but from what I understand 9 seems really high for this. But that has nothing to do with marketing? At least, the websites I trust would not be swayed by marketing schemes like review score bribes.

Edited by gaminghooligan

Wow this got two stars? Merciful of you imo Alex, rented this and all I have to say is I haven't played a game that was this bland in a while. Shame, I agree that the new look of Star Trek is shockingly gorgeous, and to not take advantage of that in a video game is just criminal.

Posted by Humanity

Say what you will but Dark Sector was a pretty fun game, even if it did have an identical control scheme to Gears at a time when that wasn't an industry standard. So it's a shame about this game because I know Digital Extremes can do better.

Online
Posted by Baltimore

I played through the entire game. Everything Alex has said in his review is 100% on the nose. This game is just plain bad.

Something I noticed that Alex didn't mention is that there are a grand total of three women to appear in the game. Three. Ohura, T'mar (Vulcan MacGuffin maker) and a lone crewman in the hall at the very start of the game. Does Starfleet not allow women to serve on ships?

One more thing, all the infected crewmen in my play through were redshirts. Thought that was pretty funny.

Edited by Benny

@nixon34 said:

@zevvion said:

I really don't think any dev of publisher spends money on lame comments in comment sections. I think it's just some guy who really likes this game or looks forward to it, but feels that others should accept his opinion for their own as well.

I think you should really check out the 10/10 and 9/10 reviews on metacritic for this game. They compare it to mass Effect in one of them. Another calls it on par with the best games that have come out this year. Trust me, The developer may not have time to go make up comments on websites, but the marketing team sure does.

I agree, you're very naive to think PR for publishers don't do stuff like this, there are entire companies devoted to being paid to give you thousands of fake twitter followers (can't remember the article but some fake character had 50,000 fake followers and was verified...)

They've been doing shit like this for years as well, as I remember a very specific quote from Jeff on the hotspot in maybe 06/07 where he quoted one of these posts as saying "I think crime life gang wars will be rude!" and the whole thread had fake replies and everything saying positive stuff about a shockingly bad game.

This is perhaps one of the most disgusting but cheapest ways to get people interested in your terrible game.

Edited by Krakn3Dfx

@benny said:

@nixon34 said:

@zevvion said:

I really don't think any dev of publisher spends money on lame comments in comment sections. I think it's just some guy who really likes this game or looks forward to it, but feels that others should accept his opinion for their own as well.

I think you should really check out the 10/10 and 9/10 reviews on metacritic for this game. They compare it to mass Effect in one of them. Another calls it on par with the best games that have come out this year. Trust me, The developer may not have time to go make up comments on websites, but the marketing team sure does.

I agree, you're very naive to think PR for publishers don't do stuff like this, there are entire companies devoted to being paid to give you thousands of fake twitter followers (can't remember the article but some fake character had 50,000 fake followers and was verified...)

They've been doing shit like this for years as well, as I remember a very specific quote from Jeff on the hotspot in maybe 06/07 where he quoted one of these posts as saying "I think crime life gang wars will be rude!" and the whole thread had fake replies and everything saying positive stuff about a shockingly bad game.

This is perhaps one of the most disgusting but cheapest ways to get people interested in your terrible game.

I've known people who go post 10/10 user reviews of games that they know are shit just because it might trick someone into buying it, not just with games either, electronics, PC hardware, stuff like that.

Some people just want to watch the world burn.

Posted by redefaulted

That's really unfortunate. I was really looking forward to giving this game a go, but with this low of a score, there is no way I'm going to spend that kind of money on a risk. I'll pick it up when it's $4.99 at Gamestop; or when Microsoft makes it a platinum hit, lol.

Posted by agentgray

Man, Alex is the review king lately. He's done four of the last eight posted.

Edited by Kaysauce
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