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Star Trek: The Game – E3 2012 Impressions

Ever since it was announced, the Star Trek game has been a hotly anticipated title.    At E3 2012, I was able to get a close look at the game.

This game will take place in between the JJ Abram’s movies and features the voice support of both Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto, in addition to most of the voice actors from the 2009 reboot, including  Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, John Cho and Anton Yelchin.

An attack on New Vulcan has been reported, and Kirk and Spock immediately answer the call, beaming down to  the planet’s surface to investigate.

The major announcement to come out of E3 2012 was that the main enemy you will be fighting are the Gorn, a lizardlike creature that has been a major part of Star Trek canon.  The Gorn are able to infect Vulcans, thus making it so that you’ll also occasionally have to battle ‘zombie’ Vulcans, although you can merely incapacitate the pointy eared attackers if you wish.

As Kirk and Spock investigate the sick Vulcans, they are attacked by the Gorn and by some Vulcans.   After the battle, Spock uses his scanner to find out about what is happening to the new colony and to find safe routes for you to travel forward.

During most of the demo that I saw, the main focus was on combat.  Unfortunately, it looks like a fairly standard 3rd person shooter.  However, you do get to use Spock’s famous Vulcan Neck Pinch to knock out enemies, which is pretty rad.  Mind melding was also featured. Although I was a little disappointed in the action sequences, it is still quite exciting to get to play co-op as the one of the most famous duos ever.  Plus, in many of the trailers that have been released, there will also be major focus on traversal, puzzle solving and many other elements that Star Trek has been famous for.

Luckily, the main focus of this Star Trek game, and its heritage, is story and atmosphere. Thankfully, Digital Extremes appears to have nailed these elements head on.    Kirk and Spock frequently banter back and forth during the gameplay, thus making the experience incredibly rich. After the first battle, Kirk and Spock are confronted with a broken bridge.  Kirk naturally tries to jump it, but barely manages to grab onto the opposite side while Spock manages to use the scanner to find a solution and rescue Kirk.   Watching it unfold, and hearing the familiar voices from the movie, it felt very intense. Set-piece moments like these truly got me involved.  Playing with a friend during this game will be a must to get the full experience because during cutscenes, the game will show you the different perspectives of each character.

After some more combat, Kirk and Spock are again forced to jump, this time onto a moving shuttle craft.  As Spock fights off the Gorn, Kirk again barely manages to get a handhold onto the ship, just as Spock is locked in battle with one of the lizard men. He manages to kick a blaster at Kirk, who gets a shot off at the attacker.  All in all, it was extremely entertaining, and if the the developers can keep up these types of adrenaline pumping moments, I forsee this game becoming a respected part of the Star Trek series.

Digital Extremes has worked closely with Nvidia to make sure that the 3D experience is as good as possible . To that end, in the demo room, there were two television sets. However, each person was able to get the full 3D experience of each screen no matter where they were seated.  That said, other than the character models and 3D stuff, the visuals are a little bit on the bland side. Then again, I was impressed with the incredible vistas, like the example shown below.

After the demo initially ended, I was a little concerned about how good the game would be. However, after I thought about it a bit, my concern eased. After all, I only witnessed the combat scenarios, and although the actual gameplay was a bit lackluster (aside from the Vulcan melees), there was still a lot of emotional investment during the battles. In addition, there is a strong story element, especially with the original voice actors coming onboard.  Plus, the Gorn appear to be a fairly intelligent enemy; hopefully they are fun to fight.

Finally, the most compelling element was that you are going to be able to use all the famous Star Trek gear: scanners, phasers, alien weaponry and more.   Although I would have preferred it to be similar to Mass Effect, the asynchronous co-op, riveting set-pieces and amazing story & dialog will hopefully carry this game through.