Welcome to Beta’d, our new weekly column devoted to video game news, reviews, demos and beta releases. This week we’re taking our first look from E3 at Star Trek: The Game, developed by Digital Extremes for Namco/Bandai.
JJ Abrams’ reboot of Star Trek was a sleek, thoroughly epic adventure that felt like it would have made an amazing video game. The people at Paramount and Namco/Bandai agreed and put Digital Extremes (The Dark Sector, The Darkness 2) to work to produce a game worthy of the action we saw in the film. ST:TG takes place shortly after the first film, with the crew settled into their roles on the Starship Enterprise, and almost bridges the gap between the two movies.
Story: New Vulcan has been established as a colony for the Vulcan refugees, and the demo we saw starts with Kirk being alerted that all communication with the colony has gone dark. Instead of sending down an away team of red shirts who would undoubtedly be killed, Kirk elects to go himself and take Spock with him.
After a brief exchange with Scotty in the transporter room/weapons depot, you are beamed down to the planet. The colony looks abandoned until Kirk and Spock are attacked by a number of Vulcan refugees. Spock determines that they are under the influence of a nerve agent or toxin, but cannot determine what it is. After a brief exploration of the city, the big-bad of the game is revealed to be none other than the Gorn, a fully realized update of the Gorn with input from JJ Abrams and team, to be exact. The lizard men from TOS are now borderline space pirates, and the rest of our demo was Spock and Kirk battling it out with reptilian warriors.
Graphics: This game looks stellar. The entire cast has been scanned for their likenesses, and it comes through beautifully. Side note: While the temporary voice-over in the demo wasn’t great, it has been announced that the voice tracks in the final game will be those of the actors in the Star Trek films. The engine could handle rendering plenty of enemies and our heroes without sacrificing the visuals of any of the on-screen action. There were also a few cut scenes seamlessly interwoven with the actual game play giving the entire game a cinematic quality. And yes, there were lens flares. It should also be noted that we saw this demo in gorgeously-rendered 3D from a NVidia set-up that is not yet available to consumers. It was the first time I’ve ever seen 3D this clear and sharp, and it added real depth to the experience.
Gameplay: The game was designed around a two-player co-op mechanic called “asymmetrical multiplayer.” The character as whom you decide to play — Kirk or Spock are the available choices and it’s the first time you can play a game as both — determines not only your abilities, but also how your character will approach the game. Kirk is supplied with a souped-up phaser, while Spock has a tricorder and basic phaser. Also, your character will be given different options. In a scene on a bridge (a bridge bridge, not the ship’s bridge), Kirk is only given the option to jump across a gap, which leads to him dangling while holding a pipe. Spock’s options in the same scenario are to go to a control panel and extend the bridge. In many instances, the character playing Spock will have that extra little bit of work to do, as he has the tricorder to scan people and items to further along the story. The mechanics lead to each player having a completely unique game play experience from that of their partner’s.
Impressions: This game is going to be a must-buy for Star Trek fans. The game play looks to be smooth, the story engages the players with a classic Trek nemesis, and the promise of more Pine and Quinto just makes for an overall fun experience. No release date has been set, but we can’t wait for Scotty to beam us up for some epic, intergalactic co-op Star Trek action in its entirety.