At the Electronic Entertainment Expo tucked away in a quiet meeting room removed from all the big lights and sounds was Star Trek, a new third person shooter/action game based on what else, Star Trek. The game follows Kirk and Spock as they battle a new alien threat to the Enterprise and the Federation. The game will feature tons of phaser battles, space combat and lens flares. But Star Trek is so much more than all that, it’s born from a desire of developers to finally build a no holds barred Star Trek game that isn’t bound to the series canon and established conventions.
During my (all too brief) demo of the game I was treated to one of the most intense set piece moments of all the games at E3. Kirk and Spock are on a shuttle and the Enterprise isn’t answering hails. So what’s a good captain to do? Throw on a space suit and jump through space towards the ship, all the while avoiding debris and mines. Once on the Enterprise the nature of the game becomes much clearer. Star Trek is a co-op game, which perfectly reflects the relationship that these two iconic characters have built for themselves.
Now the differences between Kirk and Spock are much more than one wears yellow the other blue, both characters will actually play and act differently based on their personalities. For example Kirk is far more brash and headstrong while Spock is more logical and calculating. This is highlighted when both characters enter the Enterprise’s docking bay, Spock landing gently on his feet and Kirk flying in head first into some crates.
From then on the game kicks into third person mode, as both characters explore the bowels of a seemingly abandoned Enterprise they come across a dead red shirt on the ground (classic Trek). Both characters come equipped with tricorders which can be used to scan things (ala Metroid Prime) and reveal extra information. Like with the red shirt it is found that he died after being infected with a strange alien disease. After a brief walk through the empty corridors you arrive at the Enterprise’s shuttle bay and that’s where things really pick up.
Shortly after arriving in the shuttblay our heroes are ambushed by unknown alien attackers, here we can see the game’s combat mechanics in action including an intuitive cover mechanic, the ability to throw down temporary energy shields and using your tricorders to manipulate Federation technology (making a forklift drop a crate on an enemy, overload a conduit type of things). Kirk and Spock are even equipped with their own personal phasers; with Kirk having the standard ‘stun’ and ‘kill’ settings but with much higher energy outputs and Spock’s weapon having a ‘stasis’ mode where enemies can be confused and halted in their tracks.
Not long into the firefight Kirk is injured and Spock must carry him over to sick bay. Here the gameplay changes dramatically with one player controlling Spock and moving the pair while the other covers with Kirk. This carries over to the operating room where Spock must operate on Kirk while the captain protects the pair. The pair are then ambushed by another group of enemies, here Spock shows off why he is the ‘ninja’ of Star Trek. He stealthily walks up to an enemy and mind melds him onto your team. The developers have promised more of these sorts of abilities and interactions as the game goes on. The demo closes with both Kirk and Spock on the bridge of the Enterprise with the alien’s demanding that Kirk hand the ship over to them, well we all know that captain Kirk does not believe in the no-win scenario so instead of just handing the ship over, he offers them another ship, shortly before ordering the shuttlecraft that brought them to the Enterprise to come barrelling into the bridge.
The developers over at Digital Extremes are going a long way to ensure that this game is ‘Trek’ in every sense of the word. The action, the intrigue, the scientific know-how and yes even the campy humour, it’s all there and it looks like it’s all coming together very nicely to possibly make this one of the best Star Trek games ever created. Star Trek for Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PC will be launching at around the same time as the next major motion picture in 2012.
Stay tuned to gamrReview for all the latest previews and demos from E3 2011.