Namco Bandai Games has made a concerted effort to reassure fans of the Star Trek franchise that the forthcoming videogame remains faithful to the forthcoming motion-picture. Featuring an original story by Marianne Krawczyk and set after the events of the Star Trek (2009) reboot, players will be able to bridge the gap between that first release and the upcoming sequel with an entirely original story. However, there’s more to this than simply pleasing the fans. Star Trek looks set to become that rarest of breeds: the motion-picture tie-in that will appeal not just to fans of the source material, but videogames in general.
Designed as a two-player co-operative videogame, Star Trek is coming to Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC in the shadow of Gears of War. Of course, this is much the same as developer Digital Extremes’ sorely underrated original IP, the current-generation gem that is Dark Sector. Made available at the start of the generation Dark Sector was a fantastic attempt to push third-person action videogames forward, but given the similarities to Epic Games’ all-consuming science-fiction parade and a poor multiplayer offering it was unfortunately overlooked by many. Star Trek won’t have the same issues, so hopes are high that Digital Extremes can pick-up their intriguing innovation where Dark Sector left off.
Unlike titles such as Gears of War and Army of Two, players will have a very different experience in Star Trek depending on which character they play as. Gears of War may have seen players travelling in different directions momentarily, but Star Trek gives each Kirk and Spock very different abilities, meaning that each can take advantage of unique opportunities and access areas that the other cannot: more than a simple pathway, these alternative routes will require a small amount of puzzle solving to access and will often be optional, off-the-beaten path extras.
Star Trek will feature a wide variety of weaponry, but working hand-in-hand with the uniqueness of each playable character is the inclusion of specific weapons. Spock will use the Vulcan Repeater, a quiet pistol capable of slowing enemies, while Kirk is armed with a personalised blaster capable of instant kills or stun shots. Star Trek will also feature a sticky cover system similar to all of the above mentioned co-operative third-person action titles, as has become the tradition for the genre.
During the build presented to Electronic Theatre some minor bugs presented themselves, but nothing that you wouldn’t expect Digital Extremes to clean-up months prior to release. More important is the fact that the development studio seem determined to make the most out of the stereoscopic 3D capabilities of current-generation consoles. Even at this stage, the preview build makes full use of the available stereoscopic 3D technology during combat and action sequences, with distance judgement seemingly far more comfortable than on standard high-definition displays. This emblemises the passion for crafting an experience that plays with tradition, pushing forward in ways that we know Digital Extremes are capable of doing; let’s hope Star Trek manages to become the studios’ time to shine.