405 Games: Star Trek The Video Game Preview Event
There's no denying it, Namco Bandai and Paramount know how to throw an event. Having taken over a portion of The Science Museum in London, you could tell they'd spared no expense in making the space look as Trek as possible, with subtle blue lighting providing atmosphere, the game's trailer being beamed directly on to different surfaces in the room and women in Starfleet uniforms (the mini-dress one, not the TNG unitard) dotted all over the place. It was an impressive event.
As to Star Trek The Video Game itself, Senior Vice President of Paramount, Brian Miller, gave the crowd their first look at a few of the levels from the game, and I have to say it looks like it's going to be a fan pleaser. Digital Extremes were given three years to develop the game, in a break with movie tradition - historically, movie tie ins have been known to be a bit slap-dash, having been put together in 9-12 months to support an upcoming cinematic release. It was made very clear that this was not the case with Star Trek.
The characters have been quite faithfully digitally recreated for the game, with the film's cast being brought on board for the voice acting, which is somewhat of a rarity with a movie tie-in. Most impressively, the recreation of the Starship Enterprise's bridge and internal corridors spares no detail, allowing the player to sit in the iconic Captain's chair if they want to, check out Kirk and Spock's personal quarters, root through their drawers (the last one may not be true). There are quite a lot of in-jokes dotted throughout the dialogue, and the prospect of being able to play as Spock or Kirk, and in co-op no less, brings a smile to my face.
The story is set between the last film and its upcoming sequel, following the Enterprise and it's dealings with a group of Vulcan scientists working on a device they hope to use to rebuild their home planet (last seen being ripped apart by those pesky Romulans from another timeline). Obviously, that alone wouldn't have made for much of a game, so enter the antagonists: The Gorn.
Much like Khan and the Genesis device before them (or after them - I always have trouble thinking four dimensionally), the Gorn want to use the Vulcan's planet saving device and use it as a weapon. It's up to Kirk and Spock to stop that from happening. The Gorn are more than a little reminiscent of the Horde, or the Chimera - there are 15 classes and they have over 20 different types of weapon (each one with a secondary function). Best of all, you can pick up their boom sticks after you've phased them out of existence.
As for the game's graphics, it's hard to call at this stage. If Aliens: Colonial Marines has taught us anything, it's that your best off not making any judgements until you have the final product at home and in your console. What I saw didn't blow me away as a gamer, but I would be lying if I said it didn't make me excited as a Star Trek fan.
Gameplay-wise, Digital Extremes haven't tried to re-invent the wheel, and have stuck to the staples used and championed by most action games. As Spock and Kirk dart from cover to cover on the outer shell of a science space station, it's hard not to recognise elements of Mass Effect and Gears Of War (in particular, the former's final battle in the Citadel from the first instalment in the franchise). Your Tricorder will also be on hand, acting much like Batman's detective vision, highlighting points of interest, and generally acting as your go to device for all things science and tech (like hacking mini-games, scanning enemies etc).
The co-op seems to work fluidly - there were only a couple of occasions when the dreaded "Please wait for your partner" flashed up on the screen, and depending on whether you choose Kirk or Spock, you'll gain their unique perspective. If you play as Spock, you'll even get The Gorn's perspective courtesy of his ability to mind meld.
All in all, Star Trek The Game looks like it's going to be an exciting addition to the rebooted franchise, especially as they're keeping the story canon. Will it live up to fans and gamers lofty expectations upon release? Well - you'll just have to wait for the review.
Star Trek The Video Game will be released April 26th on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC
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