The Final Countdown: Star Trek the Video Game
I’m a J.J. Abrams nut – a huge fan of all of his work. So, as someone that used to enjoy Star Trek thoroughly, only to have that Star Trek: Enterprise show with Scott Bakula ruin it, I was excited and curious to see how Abrams would revive the franchise. Needless to say, his 2009 release Star Trek was a huge success, reviving classic characters and creating new fans in the process.
With successful recasting of iconic characters, an exciting, original story, and an action-sci-fi premise that made even the most hardcore of Star Wars fans enjoy the film, Star Trek is more relevant than ever. That’s why Star Trek Into Darkness has so much hype around it. Since Abrams’ reboot of Star Trek was such a hit, it’s no surprise that Paramount and Namco Bandai got with Digital Extremes (BioShock, BioShock 2, Unreal Tournament, The Darkness 2) to make a video game that bridges the gap between the 2009 Star Trek film and Into Darkness, releasing May 17.
Star Trek releases next week on April 23, 2013 on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360. As we head into the final frontier, here are five things you must know about the game.
Set in J.J. Abrams Star Trek canon
Star Trek isn’t a movie tie-in; those rarely turn out well. It’s a unique storyline that takes place after the events of the 2009 film, and heading into Star Trek Into Darkness. Therefore, we’ll have references to the first film. The overall look of the game is to closely resemble the work Abrams has done with the franchise. Since it’s set in his version of Star Trek, the new dynamics between characters, the look of the Enterprise, and just the right amount of lens flare will be on full display in the game.
Brian Miller, game producer and senior vice president of Paramount, said that they are working with everyone from the film on the game. They want to capture that J.J. Abrams feel in everything they do. Their goal is to make it feel like an Abrams’ Star Trek film. It looks like they’re accomplishing that, because everything I’ve seen – from trailers to in-person previews – features looks and animations that can be seen in the film. From the way Kirk fires a phaser to the way the characters move during their thrilling space jumps, the look is authentic to the work Abrams and his team have done.
Marianne Krawczyk, screenwriter from the God of War series, wrote the script and created the dialogue between Kirk and Spock, hitting the nail on the head with the back-and-forths between the two. In addition to that, the Enterprise itself is remodeled directly from movie assets, and you’ll be able to see places on the ship that you haven’t in the movies.
Features the sultry voices of Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto
But that dialogue wouldn’t be authentic if it didn’t have the films’ biggest named voicing the game’s characters. No, I’m not talking about William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy; I’m talking about Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto. Since you play as either James Tiberius Kirk or Spock, the two actors have lent their talents to the game, completely voicing all of the dialogue, as well as their likeness to the characters’ faces.
They aren’t the only ones, though. The whole main cast from the film has been secured, including Karl Urban as Bones, Zoe Saldana as Uhura, Simon Pegg as Scotty, Anton Yelchin as Pavel Chekov, and John Cho as Hikaru Sulu. You come across and interact with the entire crew in the game, because Star Trek is about a crew coming together to overcome an obstacle.
Experience the co-op bromance of Kirk and Spock
At the Namco Bandai Global Gamers Day in 2012, the game was described as Bro-op. I wrote in my preview that Miller considers Star Trek “to be about the relationship between Kirk and Spock. Yes, there is exploration, but it’s how the crew works together, and specifically these two, that makes the movie what it is.” That could not be more true.
In Star Trek, you can play the game as single-player, choosing to play as either Kirk or Spock. Each character will give you a different perspective of the story, you’ll perform different actions, have different weapons and attacks, and approach scenarios in different ways. The problem with these games is that you have to rely on an AI character. Oftentimes, the AI buddy is useless; I haven’t played Star Trek yet, so I don’t know if that will be the case here. But it definitely helps that the game is drop-in, drop-out co-op. The two different perspectives on the game encourages two playthroughs, but it also shows how both of these characters look at what is happening and how they respond.
With a friend, you can each use the strengths of the character you play as to beat the missions. Spock and Kirk are complimentary to each other, so the two of you should be as well. Kirk is played as more of a typical shooter, with a phaser that can stun or kill, and later getting an assault rifle. Spock gets more up close and personal, using stealth techniques, and attacks like the Vulcan nerve pinch and mind meld.
Return of the Gorn
The enemy in Star Trek – which, in typical J.J. Abrams fashion, was kept a secret for quite some time – is the Gorn, who are being re-introduced after appearing with Kirk 46 years ago in the classic series episode “Arena.” They are a vicious race, lizard-like in appearance. Not much is known about the story of the game, but the Gorn are attacking the New Vulcan colony. Miller had this to say:
As soon as we began thinking of who the villain would be, the Gorn jumped to the top of the list. With the Gorn as the bad guys, this allowed for Paramount and the developer to expand on the entire Gorn species. The game includes 15 different types of Gorn, ranging from low level rushers and initiates; larger Brutes, Enforcers and Sentinels; and even three types of female Gorn, each with unique offensive and defensive abilities […] While the Gorn were updated and expanded for the game, the classic Gorn eye design can be seen in the Gorn Rushers, and the classic Gorn Captain has been paid tribute to in the Gorn Champion.
In their marketing for the game, Paramount and Namco Bandai had a pretty funny advertisement where William Shatner and the Gorn he faced off against in the classic series are playing the game together. Something happens, and they re-enact the classic fight from 46 years ago.
The tricorder: don’t leave home without it
Number one rule: If you’re going on an away mission, bring a tricorder with you. Also, bring a phaser, but still, bring a tricorder. In the game, you’re going to be using the tricorder in many ways, like scanning enemies to learn their weaknesses, scanning the environment, and progressing the story. I remember a specific instance where Kirk used it to scan a dead crewman and find a toxin. I can’t help but wonder how the Wii U GamePad could’ve been used with this game… maybe we’ll get a port in a year or two.