Star Trek Review


Live Long and Prosper…by Avoiding this Game

The new Star Trek movies directed by J.J. Abrams have been doing well so far. With mostly positive reviews from critics and movie goers, the rebooted franchise has become a significant blockbuster and like most high-profile blockbusters, there is a video game adaptation to coincide with the film’s release. Most movie tie-in games aren’t very good and feel like quick cash-ins; Star Trek doesn’t feel like a quick cash-in, but it also isn’t very good.


The game puts players into either the shoes of Captain Kirk or his commanding officer Spock, depending on who the player chooses before starting the campaign. After choosing one of the characters, the game begins with the Kirk and Spock in the middle of a desperate fire fight against unknown enemies. Without warning, the screen cuts to black and then shows the two characters fighting each other.

After the intro, the story goes back before the events presented as Kirk answers a distress call coming from a Vulcan space station. Upon arrival, the characters find out the Vulcans, Spock’s alien race, created a powerful device that harvests energy from a binary star and accidentally opened a rift to the alien home world of a dangerous race of alien lizards called the Gorn.

The Gorn, hellbent on enslaving the universe, steal away the device and some of its creators to use as a weapon. With the stakes raised yet again, it is up to the efforts of Kirk, Spock, and the rest of the crew to stop the Gorn before they can carry out their plans.

This is a fairly standard plot for any Sci-Fi story or Star Trek story, but it gets the job done and is fairly entertaining. The banter between the characters, all voiced by the original actors from the films, are handled well even though there are a few bad lines here and there. The actors do a good job voicing their characters and help with the story’s overall presentation. The story and original voice actors are unfortunately the strongest aspect of the entire game though.


Gameplay handles like a standard third-person shooter, aim with right analog and move with the left, but it still controls terribly bad. The characters can only move horizontally and vertically and for any other direction, they must be aimed in that direction with the right analog stick.

In two levels, there are set pieces where the player must grab an injured comrade and escort him to another area. Naturally the character walks slower, but he is unable to strafe or back up; moving forward or turning are the only options. There is also an area that requires the characters to swim and the same problems apply as well. The worst part is each character is unable to swim directly up to the surface to catch their breathes and can only move at an angle that gets them caught on the environment.

Like most third-person games with shooting, there is a cover system; Star Trek vaguely has one, but getting the characters to either stick to cover or get them to move from cover is extremely difficult. To say the cover system is broken is an understatement and to make matters worse, the same button to enter cover is also a dodge button as well. Almost every time I wanted to take cover, Spock would roll out into enemy fire and almost every time I wanted to dodge, he would firmly stick himself to the nearest wall. It’s extremely frustrating when the outcome of the fight is a game over because of poor mechanics.

When in cover, the characters can move from cover to cover by aiming at a different spot and holding the cover button. In most games, the character will move as quickly as possible as to not be shot or spotted, but Kirk and Spock barely speed walk to their destinations. Considering stealth is an option, a poorly handled option mind you, one would figure they would move a little quicker. Since cover is integral for stealth as well, it is extremely difficult to not get spotted due to the limited controls and players would be much better off starting a fight.

If one of the characters does take too much damage because of the bad cover system, the character will go into a downed state until he is either revived by the other character or dies; if the other character is controlled by the A.I., expect the latter. The game’s A.I. is terrible and almost completely useless. The A.I. will get itself stuck on objects, can barely shoot straight, throw itself into enemy fire, and will sometimes forget about downed players.

The enemy A.I. is not so hot either. In the early levels, I found it was easier to sprint toward their positions because they were unable to hit me. The Gorn are also very large creatures so when they take cover, a large chunk of their body will be wide open for a well placed phaser blast. Too bad the weapons are worthless as well.


Lasers and other future weapons in games are never much fun to me, and Star Trek’s are at the top of my list of bad weapons. The phaser may have the ability to stun leaving an opening for a close quarters attack, but the kill function is weak and inaccurate; then again, so are the rest of the game’s weapons. All of the weapons have no kick, no power and even the strongest gun, a sniper laser, takes two hits to kill a normal enemy.

Enemies do come in different varieties, with the only difference being the lizard’s scale color and health bar. Even the bosses are just regular enemies with a significantly larger health bar. There is one boss and one enemy type that has the ability to cloak, but this ability is rendered moot with the game’s scan item, the tricorder.

A large chunk of the gameplay is built around the tricorder which is used to scan the environment for story logs and various points of interest to gain experience to upgrade the tricorder and phasers. None of these upgrades are worth the effort since none are really too useful and only one can be applied per category. The tricorder can also be used for another gameplay feature which takes up a large percentage of the game, hacking.

When there isn’t a fire fight, an area to scan, or a stealth section, players will probably be spending their time performing one of three tedious and boring hacking mini-games. One hack is a matching puzzle, the other is a contextual puzzle, and the other involves moving two points into one node much like the old game Snake. My question is, why is an old game that would come on old cell phones be a primary gameplay element in a modern video game?

There are also a few platforming sections sprinkled into the game’s levels and just like the rest of the gameplay, it is also done very poorly. The jumping is inaccurate, the animations are glitchy, and some of the later areas require the player to complete these sections quickly and under pressure; it’s frustrating to die because the character simply won’t jump when the button is pressed.

The game does throw out some set pieces that would have been great, had they been handled well, but instead just add to the tedium and frustration. There are multiple fly sections where the characters must dodge debris and other objects; sadly they are overused and boil down to trial and error to complete. The U.S.S. Enterprise, the characters’ space ship, also comes under the player’s control, but it ends up being a boring, uninspired on-rails shooting segment.


The least important problem with the game would have to be  the way the game looks, which is like a high-end Playstation 2 game. Textures lack detail and character animations are stiff, when they aren’t passing through solid objects; in short, the entire game looks hideous.

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The least important problem with the game would have to be  the way the game looks, which is like a high-end Playstation 2 game. Textures lack detail and character animations are stiff, when they aren’t passing through solid objects; in short, the entire game looks hideous.