Star Trek the video game (XBox 360) Review
- Good use of the Star Trek universe looks wise
- Solid pace
- When it's all working as it should it can be good, mindless fun
Not so much?
- Mediocre to poor story and script
- Character models and enemy models look poor compared to enviromental graphics
- AI is terrible. Partly for CPU co-op partner but mainly for the enemies
- So, so many bugs and scripting errors that the game dances the line of flat-out broken at times
The major issues that can be leveled at Star Trek the video game are that it appears to be a rough around the edges, buggy mess of a game that, despite a strong and recognisable brand, struggles to find its own place.
Star Trek the video game is not a bad game despite what you may have heard…. actually scratch that. Star Trek the video game is a pretty bad game, but it came so close to not being. So close in fact that, at times, the game is well above normal and reaching for the upper 7’s or 8’s in score.
You see Start Trek the video game swings violently from a game that could easily be a 7 or even 8 at a push, then it swings hard to a game that could easily reach a score of 2 or 3. When the game is working and everything is clicking it’s great fun, unfortunately these all to brief moments of clarity are cloudy by so many other issues.
Star Trek the video game is a cooperative-centric third person action title, that swings all over the shop for influences. From Tomb Raider to Gears of War, via Uncharted. From Mass Effect to Resistance, via Bioshock – there is even a touch of the on-the-fly hacking elements from Starbreeze’s Syndicate remake. There are so many other games at work in Digital Extremes’ shooter that it struggles to make any impact of its own.
The mediocre, yet serviceable, story has you picking from either Spock or Kirk as your main playable character with AI or an online buddy playing as the one you didn’t choose. Control will be familiar to anyone who plays a Gears of War or Uncharted title. You have a a selection of weapons that you can scoop up from the battlefield, from Gorn based shotguns to Starfleet approved pulse rifles. The names might sound futuristic but the execution is just the same as ever. Admittedly there is an alternate fire and the ability to stun infected Starfleet personnel and take them out non-lethally is a nice addition.
Missions are a mixed bag and over the course of the 7 or so hours it’ll take you to breeze through the game there will be a good variety of platforming sections, horde-mode like gun fights, ship battles (allowing you to take “control” of the Enterprise’s weapons), free-fall space diving sections… it really throws everything at you including some spectacular set-pieces. You could never say the game doesn’t have pace.
Looks wise the game is generally good. Some real love and attention has been lavished over the look of the game that makes it sit firmly in the Star Trek aesthetic. Character models are the wrong side of the uncanny-valley which makes them look freakish and a little disturbing to look at which is unfortunate. Likewise character animation is a little off too. The re-invented Gorn baddies remind me constantly of a hybrid between Halo and Resistance – not to say that’s a bad thing to model your enemy types after. Frame rate remained reasonable throughout and environments were lavish and showed where the bulk of the development budget was blown.
Sound design is equal in its level of dedication and devotion to the series. Production values are again high on the quality of the sound work, and score. Snagging the main cast from the JJ Abrahams movies was a major win. Having the likeness and voice to match always makes it easier to equate to a character in the game from a movie/tv transition point of view. It has to be said though that some of the delivery is not always equal to the quality of the actors delivering the lines – come to that some of the script work is pretty ropey too… how many times can you shoe-horn Scotty clichés in to Simon Pegg’s voice over? There is also the clear sound of disconnect between some of the dialogue Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto deliver which illustrates they were recorded at separate times.
The major issues that can be leveled at Star Trek the video game are that it appears to be a rough around the edges, buggy mess of a game that, despite a strong and recognisable brand, struggles to find its own place. The ideas borrowed from all other games just don’t gel right at times. The hacking mini-games are laborious and dumb offering little fun the first time you do them let alone the fiftieth! Control issues are rife with characters appearing to just walk on their own and spin around and face the opposite direction after a cut scene. The AI partner is of below average intelligence at best – at worst you sometimes spend ages just waiting for him to catch up so you can do a two-person sequence (like open a door!).
Bugs are rife. Enemies shadows often clip through walls and floors. At one point Kirk jumped down to do a scanner hack with me and promptly disappeared through the floor so only his quiff was showing.. hilarious but I then had to restart from a checkpoint. Enemies fall through walls, getting up and down ladders can be hell, activating things in the environment (buttons etc) can be fiddly and frustrating, scripted sequences fail to kick off… it’s basically unpolished at best and broken at worst.
Digital Extremes set out to make something better than what has hit our consoles. The game is 75% there and it’s frustrating as hell that there are so many small issues that lead to this being such a mess. That said though I have to admit I did have fun playing through the game. Nothing challenging or remotely new about it but playing in that world, looking the way it did, just kept me going. It has all the hallmarks of a license game that was pushed through to quickly to meet a deadline for the movie. Yet this appears not to be entirely the case as development time on this project seems to have been generous for a licensed product. You can’t help feeling things just went a little out of control during the development cycle, it all had to be pulled back in and Digital Extremes just ran out of time to polish the game to a level they would have liked… and it deserved.
So what to do about a game that is partly broken, looks and sounds good, plays badly at times BUT still remains enough fun to not make me want to shoot myself out of a photon torpedo tube?
Star Trek the video game is a frustration to me. It has all the hall marks of a solid B-Tier title with an culturally relevant license. Great voice cast (although poorly implemented), wonderful score and sound work, good looking environments that capture the series so well… we should be looking at a solid licensed game here.
Unfortunately so much lets it down. Frustrations with controls, mediocre script, buggy game code, crushing number of different game types, nightmare inducing character models… I’m not going to go back through the list I’ve mentioned already but it’s extensive.
Despite the issues though I still had fun with Star Trek the video game. You can tell that Digital Extremes really were fans of the subject material and that shines through at times. I would just about recommend Trek-fans pick it up when the price dips. At full retail it’s a little insulting to be handed something so rough around the edges – at a reduced price or as a rental it’s a neat curio and fun enough way to pass a day. Just be prepared for the amount of things that are broken.
Like I said at the start, Star Trek the video game is NOT a bad game… it’s just not finished or the game it deserved to be.