Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Review: Star Trek The Video Game (PS3)

Open a burlap sack and throw in every damn cliché of video game criticism. Fans of the genre, set phasers to fun, mixed-bag, movie tie-in. Close the sack with a chewed piece of rawhide and beat the whole thing with a pillow case filled with hammers then set the burlap ablaze.

Douse it with gasoline just to be sure it catches.

It's hard to escape the low-hanging fruit when writing a review for a game like Star Trek The Video Game...

Very specifically, THE GAME, you know, just in case anyone might mistake it for Star Trek The Cookware Set or Star Trek The Prostate-Specific Antigen Test. Though either one might be preferable because The Game's a bit of a transporter accident.

It starts out promising. It looks slick, the movie talent has pitched in on the voice work, and it's Star Trek but it quickly does that typical herky-jerky, why-didn't-they-install-belts-on-these-seats example of rushed movie tie-ins. Or at least it feels like that, which is why it's so difficult to stay away from the usual kind of descriptions that game reviewers tend to spit onto the web because they can't be bothered actually getting messy with what's wrong with the game. It's all dirty short cuts.

The story revolves around a Gorn incursion and the theft of a Federation weapon. It's up to the dynamic duo of Spock and Kirk to retrieve the weapon and phaser anything in their way. It's an action heavy game with all sort of 'splosions but there's also use of Star Trek's ubiquitous tricorder to hack things and open doors, and a few co-op puzzles to push buttons and tap-tap-tap to pry open unhackable doors. That kind of teamwork should be expected but other than brief use of a transporter gun, there's not much to the puzzles and it doesn't help that the action feels like it's running at about 3/4 Impulse.

The cover system is dodgy, the friendly and enemy AI has trouble finding the best route, and the platforming feels completely out of place. It's as if the game was headed in three or four different directions and then just wound up going in a circle. There's a bit of Batman: Arkham City in there, Uncharted, Gears of War...

An Uncharted game skinned in Star Trek and plunking Kirk in the Nathan Drake role? Yeah, I'd play that in a heartbeat. Even a Kirk dating sim or Leisure Suit Larry style game where Kirk scores with every female (no matter the species) rather than whiffing. Hell, an LA Noire style game with Spock as the straight man and Kirk as the reckless Dirty Harry type.

I digress.

A review shouldn't descend into, "If the developer had only _____. Then the game would have been awesome!" That kind of "What if...?" speculation shouldn't be bothered with.

Star Trek The Video Game just isn't very good. It's unfortunate that it's not better but I think that of every game I've ever played. Whatever the reasons behind how this particular game turned out, there are better ways to spend your time and money.

- DD Nunavut

The Good:
- Movie cast pitches in with the voice acting
- Momentary flashes of cool things

The Bad:
- Throws a bunch of stuff into the game but none of them feel very good
- Beyond the transporter gun the puzzles aren't interesting
- Cover system
- Platforming? Oh geez!

Score: 4.0 / 10