‘Star Trek: The Game’ Review

Published 2 years ago by

Star Trek The Game Reviews

The studio-funded movie tie-in game. Is there any sadder proposal? Whatever the odds, Star Trek: The Game — with the cast on hand, a story supplied by the film’s writing team, and claims of a new form of co-op between Spock and Kirk — seeks to deliver a story bridging the gap between J.J. Abrams’ movie reboot and this summer’s sequel.

Star Trek has shown potential in previous years, but now that it’s here, did developer Digital Extremes do the impossible? Or is Star Trek just an excuse to make money off a Trek-skinned mediocre shooter?

One might assume that without the money or ambition of a major triple-A shooter at their disposal, Digital Extremes would focus not on what would have to be a straightforward, cut and dry shooter, and put the emphasis on story and Star Trek lore. Unfortunately, that is not the direction taken — a decision which still boggles us, since the reasons people turn to Star Trek likely aren’t the same as those leading to the success of, say, Gears of War.

Star Trek The Game Combat

But in the path to establishing Spock and Kirk as two of the galaxy’s most rampant killers, the shooting is painfully rote. Using long distance weapons or the recharging, reliable phasers, enemy encounters are based solely on firing enough rounds in to the target. Increased difficulty only means more shots are needed to bring down an enemy, making combat as paint-by-numbers an experience as possible. And again, with minimal conversation between the two leads, feels completely removed from the Trek universe and generic story line at play.

Before long, the basic gameplay structure is thus: go to the point indicated on your screen, shoot things in the way, and do so without feeling anything in the proceedings that might offer any sense of nostalgia or enjoyment due to the experience sharing a universe with the current Star Trek franchise. Because… that’s what a video game is, right?

Hitting the point home was the decision to leave out Romulans, Klingons, or any other classic Trek villain as antagonists, and go with the Gorn. While the reptilian race may be a favorite among fans of the original TV series, the ‘reimagined’ Gorn are as painfully predictable and uninteresting as any other alien/monster/sci-fi shooter in existence.

Star Trek The Game Review Cast

Prior to release, much was made of Paramount’s commitment to extending their movie universe into the video game realm by calling on Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, and the rest of the cast to voice their respective characters. While the studio would like fans to believe that the move was key in delivering a high-quality experience, the results are anything but a success.

With the quality of voiceover work ranging from competent (Pine and Simon Pegg) to disappointing (Quinto), Zoe Saldana’s Uhura seems a particular low point — honestly, a casual viewer might assume the actress has been personally wronged by the video game industry to warrant her complete disdain for reading lines.

Yet a brief appearance from Karl Urban’s ‘Bones’ McCoy reminds us why we loved the animated character on screen, and highlights just how poorly the rest of the cast has brought their character’s personality to gamers through voice alone. We’d blame direction and investment on the developers’ side more than the talent (since their skills aren’t in question), but there’s no mistaking that the voices are the only way anyone would recognize these characters as extensions of their on screen personas.

Star Trek Game Solar Explosion

Ultimately, the experience is a mess; all storytelling or interaction between characters takes place solely in cut-scenes that are not only totally divorced from the gameplay, but aside from the character models’ faces and (sub-par) voices, could be pulled from virtually any third-tier shooter on the market.

As for the co-op, well, when Spock and Kirk aren’t throwing out their classic witty banter (“Spock, hack that console!” “I will hack the console.”) the interaction between the two amounts to a re-skinned take on Army of Two‘s give-and-take two-player gameplay — without the good parts. What was promised to be a revolutionary approach to truly asymmetrical gameplay results in simple mini-games and QTEs, and Spock is every bit as lethal as Kirk in a fight.

In the end, Star Trek isn’t a bad game in the typical way movie tie-ins usually are. The core gameplay as a third-person shooter is competent where it needs to be, but nowhere near fine-tuned or tutorial-ized enough to make stealth as satisfying an experience as it’s pitched to be. Extended load times, awkward pacing and a poorly-communicated, generic sci-fi plot all make the first half of the campaign a chore; a true shame, since the second half of the game possesses some of the more promising traversal, cinematic sequences (the wingsuit flying, in particular), and interesting (if Flintston-ian) art design.

Star Trek Game Screenshot Hallway

But even in the best cases, the most promising mechanics are not fully realized and poorly implemented. And by the time players have reached them, they’ll just be looking for a reason to stop playing. There was potential here, but from animation to story, level design to traversal, every aspect is designed to work ‘well enough.’

That’s not enough to kill a good tie-in, but with a total absence of what — or who — makes Star Trek meaningful, there’s no real point.


Star Trek: the Video Game is available for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC. Game Rant played the Xbox 360 version for its review.

Follow me on Twitter @andrew_dyce.

Our Rating:

2 out of 5

TAGS: Digital Extremes, Paramount Digital Entertainment, PC, PS3, Star Trek, Wii U, Xbox 360

  • The mighty avenger

    Spot on Andrew.

    I ha pretty high hopes for this game but it failed to deliver on all fronts. Thank god I didn’t buy it and picked up injustice instead.
    I did rent this though over the weekend and god wa it awful. Just lazy gameplay mechanics and terrible story.

  • Kyle

    Can you guys review Defiance? I enjoy the show but I don’t know enough about the game to warrant the 60price tag

    • Daniel Carlson

      yeah im curious as well about defiance. anyone with half a brain knew a movie tie in would be awful and im assuming defiance will be as well but the idea is good…-ish

    • Dante

      I’ve been playing Defiance since launch, and I love it. I never played an MMO before now and I love the experience.

      I have heard from PC players that it is not the best MMO but I play on consoles – so for me – excellent.

  • boogoo

    Definitely a fair review but I seem to really enjoy games even when they’re bad. Playing with a friend helps make it a much more enjoyable experience also.

  • Jak Frost

    Hahaha I saw this coming.I knew this game was going to suck.But for all those who had high hopes for this game I am truly sorry I know what it feels like to have false hope ):

  • http://Gamehermits.wordpress.com Josh Calkins

    I played the game all the way through, and this review was very accurate and well written and thorough. I also wrote a review of the game, which is longer and more comprehensive, or some might say rambling. I raised some details that I felt Trekkies would care about most, and while the above review was mostly spot on about the squandering of the Trek lore and universe, I felt that there were some small but meaningful elements. As a major fan of Star Trek, I would have been happier to walk around the original bridge, or Picard’s ship, or to fight alongside Klingons,or any number of missed opportunities for a Trek game. However there were some nice bits, like New Vulcan, 3D Chess, and my personal favorite piece of fan service: The Warp Core in Main Engineering!

    These details made me willing to suffer the weakness, and if anyone is still undecided or curious, please click my name and READ MY REVIEW!. Trekkies especially may care about some defining elements I discuss. Thanks, A. Dyce.