Star Trek: The Video Game Review

Star Trek box art

The licensed video game still holds a certain stigma in 2013, but at least the overall quality has improved quite a bit. Star Trek: The Video Game, however, taps into the worst kind of nostalgia, uncovering repressed memories of horrible video games that I assumed would remain relics of the past. Superman 64 and Trespasser have company with the release of Star Trek, and as we move on to the next console generation, we have Star Trek to remind us – in a unique way – how far video games have come.

The setup alone pits Star Trek as a potential failure. A reptilian race known as the Gorn (which appeared in the original series), show up at New Vulcan and steal a powerful super-weapon called the Helios device. I’d include more details, but that’s pretty much it. The rest of the story amounts to cringe-worthy banter between Captain Kirk and Spock, and occasional exchanges with the rest of the Enterprise crew. The enemies themselves, the Gorn, are about as lame and generic as they come. I guess I’m supposed to see them as a threat, but instead I think about how they must have time-warped from the PS2/Xbox era with their muddy textures and lifeless character designs. The whole game looks bad, but the Gorn in particular stand out as an eyesore.

Star Trek

The narrative isn’t what makes Star Trek so painful, though. I watch a few cutscenes and move on with my life — big deal. Actually playing the game is a whole other story. I could use words like “tedious” and “slog,” but those aren’t adequate enough to describe my experience with Star Trek. I powered through hours and hours of repetitive third-person shooting with no flashes of originality or inventive game design. I don’t mind the focus on the action genre since this game is based in the J.J. Abrams film universe, but actually include some action in the game. Each enemy encounter proves boring and uninspired, which then makes my time with the game that much more unbearable. To make matters worse, the actual mechanics don’t work a hundred percent of the time – the cover system in particular remains finicky throughout the whole game.

There are slight diversions throughout each level in the form of hacking, traversing obstacles, and a few other things, but these brief moments are few and far between. That’s not so bad, though, because the small attempts at variety are also poorly executed. For example, the hacking mini-game becomes tedious after only a few attempts – during the rest of the game I made my AI partner hack consoles while I sat back and did nothing. Sadly, that was probably the most fun I had playing the game. Well, I also enjoyed the conversations a friend and I had while playing Star Trek, but only because we collectively appreciated how poor the game’s multiplayer component can be at times.

Star TrekFirst off, I don’t suggest asking a friend to play this game with you, because I assume you like your friends. But for those curious about the cooperatively multiplayer, it boils down to the same exact experience as the single-player campaign. The whole game seems to be designed with co-op in mind since Kirk and Spock are always together, but the only time that the two really have to work together is when they open doors. That’s right, co-op doors! The only thing more fun than repeatedly tapping a button to open a door is doing so with a friend. Also, developer Digital Extremes chose to ignore the convenience of drop-in/drop-out multiplayer, meaning a partner has to join before each chapter.

All of these flaws amount to a lack of vision and execution, but technical issues and noticeable glitches also rear their ugly heads throughout the game. Characters break out of already-terrible animations, collision detection disappears completely, and I even had to restart the game a few times because certain events would not trigger for some unknown reason. I couldn’t help but laugh when Spock walked through Kirk multiple times during my playthrough, but when technical issues impede on progress, then we have a real issue.

Star Trek has a few potential audiences – Trekkies who love everything about the franchise, folks like myself who lean more toward the recent summer blockbuster films, and gamers who have no real affinity for Star Trek but enjoy good games. This release fails on all three accounts. Instead what we have is a half-broken, tedious third-person shooter that offers no real benefits with its cooperative-focused design. I guess the one good thing I can say about Star Trek is that the actors from the films reprise their roles, so fans who love to hear Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto talk all day can be excited. Everyone else: avoid this game at all costs.


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Author: Anthony LaBella View all posts by
My first experience playing a video game blew me away. The fact that Super Metroid was that game certainly helped. So I like to think Samus put me on the path to video games. Well, I guess my parents buying the SNES had a little something to do with it. Ever since then my passion for video games has grown. When I found that I could put words together into a coherent sentence, videogame journalism was a natural interest. Now I spend a large majority of my time either playing video games or writing about them, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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