Star Trek: The Video Game ReviewPC
key review info
- Game: Star Trek: The Video Game
- Platform: PC
- Gamepad support: Yes
- Reviewed on:
- Show system requirements
Star Trek: The Video Game lives up to the worst of the television series from which it draws inspiration but has no chance of hitting the high notes that it provided and fails to capture the magic that powered the J.J. Abrams reboot of the movie series.
The game could have been one of the lesser episodes of the original television series, but it could not have gained a place in The Next Generation of the more recent reboot starring Captain Archer.
There are some good ideas in Star Trek: The Video Game, but they are overshadowed by the rotten gameplay mechanics, the painful battles and the cover system that hampers more than helps progress.
Star Trek is all about the strength of individuals, the way different races with their various quirks can cooperate in order to advance the lofty galactic ideals while dealing with all those who aim to oppress or dominate other beings.
The video game tells a far more simpler story about a piece of technology that has great potential for creation and destruction and how the Gorn (yes, many fans are wondering why they were chosen as main antagonists) try to steal it to use for nefarious purposes.
The writing aims for humor and wits, but fails to land any solid jokes and the banter between the various characters quickly gets tiring.
There’s also an attempt at romance, involving Kirk, which I found touching if not fully developed.
I expected to use my wits and my trusty tricorder to scan areas and identify weak spots and then deploy phasers and rifles in order to stun enemies and, in the direst of situations, kill them outright.
While Star Trek: The Video Game has all the core elements of the series and deploys them as the story progresses, the mechanics that link them to the player are mediocre at best and playing the experience quickly starts to feel like a chore.
The biggest problem is the cover system, which manages to destroy any joy that could be extracted from the combat sequences.
When I need to get protection, during a firefight or because of an environmental hazard, I don’t know whether my character will choose to stick to the environment or move awkwardly around it, leading to my death.
Worrying about cover means that I rarely can appreciate the capabilities of the Gorn enemies that flood combat levels.
Another reason might be the fact that they also lack too much tactical nuance and rely on number rather than complex assault patterns to take players out.
Shooting is repetitive, although there are some weapon and equipment updates that are supposed to introduce some variety.
The Gorn themselves are also uninteresting in the extreme and I have gone through whole levels wondering whether I would appreciate Star Trek more if I fought Klingons or maybe Romulans from the future.
In order to stay true to the essence of the universe, the developers have also introduced platforming sections, designed to show off cooperation between the two main characters and make tricorders the stars of the experience.
The tricoder is so helpful that there are sections of the game when, apart from moments when I was running, I kept it opened all the time to locate all points of interest and objects that could be scanned, bathing the game world in its soothing blue light.
Sneaking is also a possibility, but some enemies seem to be able to detect me by smell rather than sight so it’s not worth trying it.
Star Trek also has hacking, which is tolerable, but not actually interesting to perform, and the overall feeling is that the developer threw a lot of mechanics together, hoping that they will merge into an interesting whole, which they clearly did not.
Another big problem is the game’s constant need to show cool scenes happening rather than simply allowing the player himself to control characters while the most interesting moments take place.
But the most mystifying moment of Star Trek occurs early on when gamers are asked to become an actual photon torpedo and target an enemy ship.
Graphics and audio
Star Trek: The Video Game is a weird game from the graphics standpoint, one that might look better were it not saddled with the need to ape the style of the rebooted movie series.
The bright colors and overuse of lens flare might be interesting to watch on the big screen for about two hours, but it is ill suited for a video game that’s longer and needs to deal with a wider variety of locations and characters.
The most annoying elements of Star Trek are the faces of the characters that we all know, based on the actors from the movie, which tend to look well in some cutscenes and then unhappily cross into the uncanny valley just moments later.
A little more stylization would have been nice and would have allowed players to focus more on the locations and the action rather than constantly evaluating whether the representations of Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto look like their real-life counterparts.
The interiors of Star Trek are well simulated and the locations are detailed and mostly interesting, even if the textures could have used a little more attention.
The attempted faithfulness to the movie universe is also evident in the voice work for Star Trek, which uses the actors once more, with Pine and Quinto actually managing some good deliveries, while the secondary cast is mostly flat and unappealing.
The work they put in is mostly solid, but the differences between the two mediums pop up and the repetitive nature of the lines that come up during the action sequences is annoying.
Star Trek: The Video Game is designed as a cooperative experience, with two players focusing on two very different characters, but the game could have just as easily been single player and no one would have noticed.
The switch from Captain Kirk to First Officer Spock is mostly cosmetic and I rarely felt that both of them were crucial to the game’s progression.
The way two people are required for in-game actions is mostly forced and even combat rarely benefits from the fact that there are two good guys battling the waves of Gorn.
- Star Trek style
- Enterprise section
- Limited story appeal
- Gorn enemies
- Cover system
When I was a kid, I watched Star Trek: The Next Generation with an almost religious fervor, eager to know more about the universe, the various races, the backgrounds of the characters.
I also played games in my mind with the crew, creating situations where the cast members worked together to solve diplomatic and technological challenges.
I also loved Star Trek: Birth of the Federation, the only game I know that manages to capture the spirit of the universe in strategy game form, and I am sorely disappointed that the new third-person cooperative shooter from Digital Extremes and Namco Bandai fails to impress.
Star Trek: The Video Games, limited to just two hours and with mechanics focused on exploration, could have worked as the first installment of an episodic game linked to the series.
As a full-blown experience, the game fails to impress and might actually hurt rather than help the launch of the next movie.