Namco Bandai Games had managed to make a big deal out of Star Trek prior to launch, giving it plenty of time in the public eye and not simply revealing its existence as part of the marketing campaign for the latest motion-picture production, Star Trek: Into Darkness. That which was showed built confidence in the product: a co-operative action title in the vein of Gears of War that showed some spark of ingenuity. Sadly, what we have received is the template for such a product without any of the necessary polishing to make it play half as good as the promises Namco Bandai Games had made.
Star Trek tells a unique story that connects the first reboot movie to the second, standing on it’s own as a welcoming aside as opposed to rehashing a story written for a non-interactive live action presentation. It features the likeness of the cast of the movie and a credible writer. On- and offline co-operative gameplay is available and the videogame even supports stereoscopic 3D gameplay, so where could it possibly go wrong?
There are fundamental issues which plague Star Trek, bursting from its very core and refusing to let any glimpse of inspired design play without being hampered by technical flaws. While it could be considered a solid videogame experience in many areas the problems are rooted so deep that anything worthwhile is constantly overshadowed by dysfunctional visual and mechanical presentation. The cover system is one of the most significant issues, frequently unreliable and totally inflexible despite the many years of releases that have pushed the boundaries since the launch of the original Gears of War, resulting in many unnecessary deaths. Star Trek features a very generous checkpointing system, but whether it was this which came first or adjustments had to be made to cater for the poor cover system is most certainly a ‘chicken and the egg’ situation.
The structure of Star Trek is mainly built on this third-person action videogame template, with the player(s) journeying down linear routes, taking out a set number of foes with a small variety of weapons at their disposal, punctuated by cutscenes and lightweight puzzles: finding a power supply or partnering with their co-op buddy to activate switches. Additionally, there are some awfully static space combat sequences in which the player takes direct control of the Enterprises’ external turrets. However these sequences feel so half-baked that the cannon at your disposal feels like an overly awkward peashooter facing squads of fast moving armour plated cannons. There’s a trick to it, sure, but not one that makes the sequences any more enjoyable.
Outside of this Star Trek is unfashionably average in near every respect. Every achievement is marred by lack lustre design and poor artificial intelligence (AI); playing alone will see your AI buddy work effectively, but no matter which difficulty setting you choose all enemies will follow the same pattern throughout the entire duration of the videogame. This same standard has been applied to the visual quality, with the reasonable character presentation playing second fiddle to the laughable animation and bland environments. The voice acting is arguably a highly of Star Trek, though even this pales in comparison to many of the leading lights of modern times.
Star Trek isn’t a bad videogame by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a very shallow one. You could argue that it does well to maintain the atmosphere of the recent motion-picture reboot, but while this may be enough for franchise fans it’s not the level of quality required to sell a videogame to the core demographic. Star Trek then, is a shell of the videogame it could’ve been; a decidedly average outing for a videogame that clearly had designs on being much more.