There was a time when Star Trek was running long in the tooth. When Star Trek: Enterprise ended up being canceled with the fall of the UPN Network, and the box office receipts of Star Trek: Nemesis disappointing the studio, it seemed like a good time for Star Trek to go on a brief hiatus. When the new Star Trek movie was released in 2009, there was skepticism that it would be able to relaunch the series in a positive direction. All that hesitation was relieved when it topped the box office and became one of the blockbuster hits for that summer. Now Namco Bandai is working with Digital Extremes to create a new Star Trek game based on this universe.
One of the defining aspects of Star Trek is the relationship between Spock and Kirk. Digital Extremes decided that they wanted to take that relationship and mold the game around it. The comrade and respect that they have for each other, although strained at times, adds a human element to series beyond all the sci-fi technospeak.
To focus on this relationship, they are focusing on asymetrical co-op for the game. You’ll be able to take on the role of Kirk or Spock, and while you both will be going through the same levels, your perspective will be very different depending on which character you play as. Kirk always wants to take care of the situation himself, blaster at his side. Red shirts are for sissies, and he’ll only have an away team come to assist only if they are desperate. Spock is the more reasoned character, who feels more comfortable with his trusty tricorder at his side than any firearm. He can also mind meld with others to gain information for their current objective.
In the level that we were shown, hails sent out to New Vulcan weren’t being responded to, and the Enterprise is sent out to investigate. After beaming down near a science facility, they are attacked by what appears to be a Vulcan. Kirk shoots the attacker so they can approach the entrance. Spock scans the dead attacker and realizes some kind of infection has caused the Vulcan to go crazy. As they explore the area they get into a firefight where Kirk and Spock are on opposite sides of a hallway, and their banter is reminiscent of what you would hear them say during an episode of the classic series.
In another instance, Kirk decides that he wants to get to the other side of a chasm by jumping over it. He misses and ends up hanging onto a pipe that is ready to fall due to his weight. Luckily Spock is able to find a control panel that extends a bridge to the other side of the chasm, and Kirk is able to lift himself up and join Spock on the other side.
Since Kirk likes to take his phaser along, you expect there to be some kind of shooting aspect to it, and while we only got to see Kirk using a phaser, there were hints from Scotty that more powerful and unique weapons will become available later in the game. In the level I saw, the Gorn were introduced as the enemy with an updated look to them. When you see one up close and personal with saliva connecting its upper and lower lips, you know that he isn’t going to go down without a fight. The fight is unique because during the combat Spock scans for the vulnerable part on the Gorn while Kirk tries to aim for it. Since the Gorn is fast, keeping the scan on it looks like it could be a little tricky.
Spock and Kirk can utilize a cover system that is reminiscent of Gears of War, where you can duck behind objects for cover. This is useful with the waves of Gorn that will come at you. There is also a scene where Kirk and Spock are trying to move forward so Scotty can beam them up, but unending waves of Gorn are preventing them from escaping. They paint a target and instruct Scotty to fire photon torpedoes at the location, similar to the Hammer of Dawn. The torpedoes quickly take care of the Gorn issue in front of them. If only they were looking behind them to notice even more Gorn ready to capture them.
The game will take place between the 2009 and 2013 movies. While the game was in a pre-alpha stage, it looked like it has a lot of potential. Having Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto voice the roles of Kirk and Spock adds to the authenticity of the game. It really looks like a game that Star Trek fans can get behind, especially if they can get the right mix of action and exploration with the storyline. It’s slated to be released on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC.