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PlayStation 3 Review: Star Trek

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It would be something if I could sit here and report to you that the new Star Trek videogame was a stellar adventure for the revamped (as in Chris Pine is James T. Kirk, not William Shatner) franchise.  The game isn’t based on the upcoming movie, so it doesn’t have that instant movie tie-in fear, but perhaps it should.  The litany of knocks commonly associated with movie tie-in titles are all present here. Star Trek: The Video Game

Forget the notion that this is some sort of intelligence-based game.  The minimal number of puzzles are all ridiculous and repetitive.  It feels as though they have been included so that the game couldn’t quite as easily be classified as what it is – a cover-based shooter.

I for one could certainly accept Star Trek as a cover-based shooter, that isn’t the problem, the problem is that this isn’t a good cover-based shooter.  The cover mechanic isn’t good, movement in general isn’t fluid, and it’s a co-op title where both friend and enemy AI lacks any I.

Yes, Spock, I totally want you to hold the power cell and stand right in front of where it needs to be put without actually putting it there.  That is absolutely what I was asking when I sent you over there – stand around and do nothing thereby arresting our progress.  And, thank you Gorn (they’re the baddies) for leaving cover and then standing in the open even when you’ve decided not to fire, you’re so much easier to take out.

I apologize, I shouldn’t be rude, it is just that Star Trek is an incredibly frustrating experience.  A handheld transporter device might be an interesting concept the first time you have to use it, but having to platform all over the place on a level using the device becomes annoying terribly quickly.

In essence, that right there is the biggest issue with the game – they are unable to introduce anything—from enemies to weapons to cover to plot to puzzles to mechanics—that isn’t completely tired after the first time you do it.  There is little sense of progression (despite your ability to improve weapons and devices), just a whole lot of blasting (and often your phasers are good enough, you don’t have to worry about other weapons if you’d prefer not to).

Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, and other members of the franchise are enlisted to read lines of dialogue, and the line readings are good.  The actors truly deliver them with enthusiasm.  But there simply aren’t enough lines and each line seems to only have one or two readings so every time Kirk thanks Spock for boosting his shields he says it in the same sort of way… and it’s kind of an action sequence yell and makes little sense during a quieter non-action portion of the game even if that’s when Spock boosts Kirk’s shields.  Like the plot and the action, it’s not developed, it just sits there.

It isn’t just the fact that this is a bad game in a franchise I like that makes this all so disappointing, it is that it feels as though with more time and effort it could have been made into a good game.  There are all these kernels of good ideas that aren’t developed properly.  Having Kirk and Spock fly through space from one part of a station to another is fun, but it is flying on-rails, with objects coming at you and you having to guess which way the game is going to give you leeway to fly in order to avoid the objects as opposed to your actually getting to maneuver around them.

Quite honestly, I got a bad feeling about the game the first time I put it in and every time I clicked the “New Game” selection from the menu, the menu would reload (I ended up choosing to play the first chapter as opposed to “New Game” as a workaround).  That is the sort of thing that can easily be fixed with a patch, but it isn’t like I have a special PlayStation 3 setup that could trigger the game to act in an unusual manner and consequently I can’t have been the only person to have trouble even beginning play of the game.

This new Star Trek game is a tiring slog that fails to capture the amazement, wonder, sense of exploration, and thought that are the hallmarks of better installments of the franchise in any medium.

Star Trek is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Animated Blood, Language, Violence. This game can also be found on Xbox 360 and PC.

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About Josh Lasser

Josh has deftly segued from a life of being pre-med to film school to television production to writing about the media in general. And by 'deftly' he means with agonizing second thoughts and the formation of an ulcer.
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