Star Trek – PC
Publisher: Namco Bandai Games
Developer: Digital Extremes
Release Date: Apr 23, 2013
Genre: Action, Adventure
Reviewed by Mark Smith

Review Score: 2.5 of 5

After the abysmal failure that was Aliens: Colonial Marines I had my concerns going into my review for Star Trek; not that the two games are affiliated in any way, but just that the “movie-license curse” seemed to be in full effect once again. Star Trek looked good on paper (and in screenshots) with a unique twist on gameplay that promised to offer the co-op goodness of games like Army of Two and Kane and Lynch, with a slick narrative that picks up after the original film (but before the sequel) and reunites us with one of Trek’s most infamous villains; the Gorn.

Star Trek is available on both console and PC and I got to review them both. Each has their pros and cons – mostly cons, and for the most part they deliver the same experience…the same boring, repetitive experience that has you wandering endless mazes of corridors and passages, or linear outdoor levels where you will face off against a seeming endless army of enemies, all made of from about five different types of opponents.

Co-op play is indeed available, but it is hardly required and not much help when you do bring a friend along other than to help overcome the broken AI for the single-player scripting and path-finding for the second character. There are numerous doors that require both characters to pry open, but these are more in-game checkpoints to make sure you are both together, but that won’t stop the other character from magically appearing in the turbo lift when you press the button. There are no combat techniques like flanking or distraction, and the other character often ends up being a source of infinite health assuming they can reach you before they too go down in combat.

Co-op on the PC is online only, and you can set your game to private, friends only, or public where any old stranger can drop into the Starfleet boots of whichever character you aren’t playing. I’m not a big fan of blind date matchmaking, but I had to endure a few sessions of awkward co-op on the PC since no one in my inner circle of gaming friends had the game. Those who play on the Xbox 360 will have the “luxury” of split-screen couch co-op, but the only thing I hate more than playing with strangers is splitting my screen, but at least you only need one copy of the game to boldly go where no one has gone before on the Xbox.

From the start you pick either Kirk or Spock. Kirk is the guns-blazing Rambo of the duo while Spock is better suited for non-lethal takedowns. Occasionally the two work in tandem when Kirk stuns an enemy and Spock does his Vulcan neck pinch thingy. In fact, this is strongly recommended when you start going up against humans infected with a Gorn virus. You don’t want to be offing your own crew now, do you? You’ll earn XP than you can use to upgrade your personal abilities as well as your weapons, inflicting more damage, lowering cool-down times, etc. If you’re playing alone you’ll need to upgrade both characters.

There are admittedly a few cool set piece moments, but they are few and far between. Only once do you get to command the actual Enterprise in a sluggish space battle that has you toggling your shields off and on to avoid incoming fire while delivering some destruction of your own. There are a few quick on-rails sections where you are spacewalking through debris fields or squirrel-suit flying on an alien planet. For most of this 8-10 hour game you’ll simply be taking cover and firing at endless swarms of enemies then moving on to repeat the same battle in a similar looking room a few seconds later. There are stealth sections and rewards for no being spotted but it’s hardly worth the effort.

Star Trek makes heavy use of the tricorder to provide an augmented view of your surroundings – think the detective view in Batman – and you also use this device to hack various objects like turrets, fire suppression systems, and even hack doors and consoles. Hacking consists of a few clever mini-games – clever until you do them 15-20 times then you merely order the “other character” to hack it for you unless it is one of the few doors that require a two-player hack. You’ll also want to scan for various secret messages on hidden communicators and the rare and elusive secret Tribble on each level.

The presentation ranges from good to bad. There are plenty of J.J. Abrams approved lens flares and the models for the various key characters look pretty good, but still a bit dated by today’s standards. The voice acting is also a bit hit and miss, and it is quite clear than these actors haven’t done much voice over work before, as their lines sound very divorced of the action or even the other lines in the same conversation. Gone is that wonderful chemistry we see in the movies where the actors actually get to play off one another.

Star Trek is just boring. There are limited aliens, limited missions types, uninspired level designs with repetitive construction, limited weapons, and worst of all, Star Trek fails in nearly every way to capture the essence of what Star Trek is…adventure and exploration. I would have loved a game that was more like the 1993 Judgment Rites, where you explored alien planets and did “adventury” types of things, but instead we get nothing more than your typical co-op shooting game with a Star Trek skin.

I’d probably give a slight advantage to the PC version of Star Trek if for no other reason than the slightly enhanced graphics, but you’ll have to decide if improved textures and framerate are worth loosing couch co-op. Diehard Trekkers can check this game out when it drops to $20 or less on a Steam sale, but for casual Trek fans or those looking for a quality shooter, co-op or otherwise, move along…there are no signs of intelligent life in this latest Star Trek offering.