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27th April 2013

Preview – Star Trek

Will Star Trek boldly go where no film tie-in has gone before?

With the notable exception of Spiderman 2, film tie-in games are rubbish. Often re-skinned or shoddy imitations of AAA titles, rushed to coincide with big budget films releases in order to ride the hype train all the way to the bank. With this in mind, when I first heard they were making a game to coincide with the new Star Trek my curiosity wasn’t peaked. I enjoyed J.J Abrams’ reboot of the series, but as I am not a Trekkie, I had little interest in playing a game based on the films. I assumed it would be another rushed affair, similar to the plethora of terrible tie-in games already available. However it appears that I may have jumped the gun on this one.

Brian Miller, Vice-President of games at Paramount Picture, the game’s publishers, blames the poor quality of most film tie-ins on their short development period (usually 1 year), “That’s not enough time to do it right.” Hoping to solve this problem, development on ‘Star Trek: The Video Game’ began 3 years ago. This gave Digital Extremes the opportunity to build the game from scratch and give it the extra polish rarely seen with tie-ins.

Details on the story are scarce (kept secret to build anticipation no doubt) but we do know that its set between the first film and the upcoming sequel, and features classic and much loved Trek villains the Gorn. Re-imagined for the reboot, the Gorn have a reptilian look not dis-similar to the Lizard in the latest ‘Spiderman’ reboot.  The Gorn “seed mayhem and destruction as they destroy populations and deplete planets of their resources”, and should make for tough adversaries throughout the campaign.

Built from the ground-up as a co-op experience, it appears to be in a similar vain to Army of Two and Gears of War, with Spock and Kirk assuming the roles of the protagonists. Gameplay will be split between exploration, co-op platforming and cover-based shooting, the third-person shooter staple we’ve all come to know and love/loath. The developers have been keen to stress that the game contains two ‘vastly different gameplay styles’; Kirk is impulsive and headstrong, preferring to shoot first and question whatever survives, meaning his play style is similar to the running-and-gunning of the Gears of War series. Spock on the other hand is more thoughtful and measured in his actions, reflected in a more stealth-focussed skills set, which includes Star Trek staples ‘Mind Meld’ (the ability to enter another characters mind) and the ‘Vulcan Nerve Pinch’.

Furthering this difference in play style, the game’s upgrade system encourages players to stay in character; Kirk’s upgrades are focussed on improving accuracy and damage, whereas Spock’s focus on his Vulcan abilities, improving his speed and stealth abilities. Of course, its still possible to play a gung-hoe Spock, or a more strategic Kirk, but its clear the developers are aiming for the characters to embody their on-screen personas.

Aesthetically the game is very appealing; character models closely resemble their real-life counterparts and environments are detailed and life-like. The game also has the trademark ‘Lens Flare’ present in much of the reboot, which adds a shiny, modern look to surroundings.

Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto reprising their roles as Kirk and Spock. Present too are Simon Pegg as Scotty and Zoe Saldana as Uhura. It’s this level or polish and detail that Digital Extremes hopes will make Star Trek standout from the movie tie-in crowd.

Until recently no one has been allowed to play the game, which caused alarm among the gaming public. However early reviews have begun to appear, and the overall opinion is positive, with many claiming the game is a blast when played with friends. Star Trek may be the first film tie-in game in years worth your money.

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