Star Trek Review
Feels more like a promotional tool rather than a quality product
In theory, Kirk and Spock provide players with two different ways to experience the game. Kirk is the gun slinging, shoot-first ask questions later type, while Spock is more stealth based. The choice is rendered worthless as the game plays out the same either way. I tried approaching a playthrough as Spock with caution and strategy, but the level design more-or-less ensures things will devolve to a good ol’ fashioned shootout. Even when I did see a stealth opening, my AI partner would run around like a chicken with its head cut off, drawing attention to himself and blowing our cover. The partner AI is absolutely abysmal, they rarely help in combat, often get in the way, and take forever to assist you when you are down. The AI for enemies is equally bad. The Gorn must have conquered some dumb alien races, because their strategy often involves running directly up to you, then standing motionless while you shoot them in the head.
One of the few positive things to say about Star Trek’s gameplay is its drop-in online co-op mode. While playing as Spock, I left myself open to the online network and someone joined my game. Playing with someone helps solve the issues with partner AI, making battles go a little bit faster and moving the game along. At one point, I had to help Kirk up to a ledge and cover him while he extended a bridge. This was a rare instance of fun in Star Trek, but there aren’t enough of them.
Star Trek's graphics are really rough, exemplified by the flat textures and glitchy environments. However, the art direction is so lackluster, the poor graphics don’t feel like much of a crime. The space stations are all white with black accent, sprinkled with the occasional foliage or other relatable touch. The alien planets are all rusty brown barren rocks. It’s clear that the team was trying to only pull visual inspiration from Abram’s Star Trek as any other artistic influence from the nearly 50 year old series seems ignored. But staying so slavishly close to Abram’s world has limited Digital Extremes in what they can imagine. Thus, by the sixth hour you will be begging for something new to look at.
The laziness of Star Trek extends beyond the gameplay, graphics, and art to almost every other aspect of the game. The sound design is underwhelming. It is important to note the brilliant Michael Giacchino, who scored Abram’s film, delivers a nice set of music that plays off its established themes while still being original. However, the other aspects of the sound design fall flat, just a general din that rarely provides any sort of aural cues or assistance in discerning the muddled world of the game. The worst of the sound design are the reactionary lines given by Spock and Kirk, which are repeated so often they become painfully annoying.
I wish I could say that Star Trek: The Video Game caters to fans of franchise, however the game is so directly pointed at the reboot and its sequel, I don’t think it resonates with the deeper lore. Either way, there are so few good ideas in Star Trek, it’s nearly impossible to recommend. While the story is passable and the dialogue enjoyable, you might as well watch Abram’s first film. You will get the same narrative quality, while not having to wade through mediocre gameplay, terrible graphics, and the myriad of other issues that bog down the fun. Just like those fast food toys, Star Trek: The Video Game feels more like a promotional tool rather than a quality product, taking advantage of franchise familiarity and the hype machine, then delivering something underwhelming and forgettable.