Star Trek preview: charted territory

Namco Bandai's upcoming Star Trek game is a competent shooter that's adequate enough for hardcore Trekkies--but not really memorable enough for anyone else.

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Licensed games tend to fall into one of two categories. Most tend to be rubbish, sent through a rushed development schedule to capitalize on a marketing tie-in. But a few manage to become real gems, pushing a genre forward, and expanding its reach beyond its fans.

Namco Bandai's upcoming Star Trek game is neither. It's a competent shooter that's adequate enough for hardcore Trekkies--but not really memorable enough for anyone else.

For the upcoming tie-in to Star Trek Into Darkness, developer Digital Extremes has turned to the most over-used genre of the generation: the third-person cover shooter. There's absolutely nothing memorable about the experience. You'll jump into cover, blind-fire at enemies, and move from cover to cover, all whilst admiring how functional and decent the gameplay is. Nothing is broken--but nothing is inspired, either.

Perhaps the most novel moment of my hands-on demo was a segment where my co-op partner and I had to work together to shut down an engine. Spock would use one of his tools to slow down the spinning motor, while I shot at its vulnerable point when exposed. We would have to repeat this process, as we ran on the exterior circumference of the ship. While the co-op gameplay was rudimentary, this segment showcased an interesting use of gravity not unlike Super Mario Galaxy.

Trekkies will appreciate the detail that went into rebuilding the Enterprise in the game. It looks good. They'll also love that the villains for the game are the Gorn, a point that Namco Bandai's marketing department is keen to hammer on.

But, the rest of the game doesn't really do the license justice. While the character models look a lot like their Hollywood counterparts, the animation is incredibly stiff, breaking any sense of immersion. Even worse, although Paramount got the entire cast to reprise their roles for the game, the voice acting is terribly flat. It's pretty clear that Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto phoned in their lines for this one.

With Into Darkness looking like a genuinely thrilling film, it's a bit disappointing that the game tie-in can't generate an equal amount of excitement. Still, Star Trek doesn't seem like a terribly bad game either, which at least makes it better than most of the licensed shovelware that finds its way on the market.

Star Trek will be available on PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 later this month.

From The Chatty

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    April 1, 2013 1:15 PM

    Andrew Yoon posted a new article, Star Trek preview: charted territory.

    Namco Bandai's upcoming Star Trek game is a competent shooter that's adequate enough for hardcore Trekkies--but not really memorable enough for anyone else.

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      April 1, 2013 1:58 PM

      But will Trekkers also appreciate the detail in the Enterprise? Inquiring minds want to know!

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        April 2, 2013 6:30 AM

        "Trekkies will appreciate the detail that went into rebuilding the Enterprise in the game. It looks good."

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          April 2, 2013 7:52 AM

          So, Trekkers won't care. Only Trekkies will.

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      April 1, 2013 2:00 PM

      I saw this at comic con in London last year, it looked pretty awful to be honest. The animations are as stiff as a board. It even looks terribly boring to play.

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      April 1, 2013 2:04 PM

      I hope Digital Extremes mods this game to include Shaq's face, just like the screenshot here. Shacknews, reach out to Digital Extremes and MAKE THIS HAPPEN.

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      April 1, 2013 2:30 PM

      Looks dogshit.

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      April 1, 2013 2:31 PM

      "charted territory". Nice.

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      April 1, 2013 3:53 PM

      But how much of the game did you get to play? The reason I'm asking is I'm wondering if there's any tie-in to the upcoming movie-- like direct tie ins that shed more light on what the movie's about. Story, man! What's the story?

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        April 1, 2013 4:03 PM

        I got to play one full campaign mission with a human co-op partner.

        The movie takes place between the first and second film, but it seems like a pretty contained narrative.

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          April 1, 2013 4:40 PM

          Here's hoping Kirk captures a Gorn in the game, and then in the movie busts him out to aid him in taking out this bad ass Cumberbatch.

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      April 1, 2013 5:45 PM

      People used to watch this crap?

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      April 1, 2013 10:40 PM

      What did they use for a graphics engine, UE2? Those are some butt ugly screen caps. I'd love for this game to be good, but chances of that are next to nothing.