E3 2011 Impressions: Star Trek

Paramount showed off two previously unannounced games at this years E3 convention. I went to the meeting expecting that they were going to show off poor movie based adaptions because, honestly, most movie based games suck. I was right that the games were based on Paramount movies, but I was completely wrong in my assumption that they would look terrible.

The second game they showed was Star Trek, based on the recent Star Trek movies. They first talked about the development of the game and how it differed from other movie games. For instance this Star Trek game has been in development since prior to the release of the last Star Trek movie. This one is planned for release with the Star Trek movie that is coming out next year, giving them more time to work on the game. This allowed the developers roughly twice the normal amount of time a movie game gets. They also explained that while this game was based in the same universe as the movies, it would be a separate story and that the writer of the movie was working closely with the writer for the game in order to make the game feel like authentic to the characters involved.

Digital Extremes is developing and one of the team leads was on hand to guide us through a demo of the game. He began with telling us how the game is meant for Co-Op. The game focuses on two of the main characters from Star Trek, Kirk and Spock. When playing single player, the game will automatically control the other character. Otherwise the game will support both online co-op and offline split screen.

They showed many examples on how the design behind the game really focused on co-operative play. Each character will see an event slightly differently. Kirk may see it from one angle while Spock might from another. Both characters also are tweaked so that they way they control and interact with the environment is unique to their personality. Kirk has a brash personality, and so his in-game skills reflect that, like having an ability to shoot a charged up blast. Spock, on the other hand, has abilities that let him approach combat like a ninja and can put a mind meld on an enemy so that they fight other enemies nearby. Everything from the way they move, talk, interact with their surrounding, down to the way their guns look fit their different personalities. There are also co-operative moves such as a rifle that Kirk in the demo picked up. He turned on a blast shield and Spock fired into it. The gun retained the energy from those shots and Kirk was able to release it as a powerful blast into another enemy. They will face different moral dilemmas through the game even.

Graphically the game looked amazing. The characters look and sound like the actors from the movie and the Enterprise looked fantastic. We were told that the Enterprise in the game used the same blueprints from the Enterprise that is used in the movie, so the locations of every room is accurate, and the game allows for you to see more parts of the ship than the movie explores. The game isn’t finished yet, but it looks like a final product. The attention to detail was mindblowing…even down to the absurd amount of lens flare. I was told that this title was also going to have a 3D option.

Control-wise the game looked otherwise like a fairly standard cover based shooter with a couple of additions that looked promising for the final retail title. The characters have tricorders that work as multi-functional devices instead of just for scanning. They showed it being used to scan a body, and said that depending on the amount of dead red shirts (of course dead red shirts) you scan it would effect a mini-game played later in the level. The tricorder was also used to overload devices, to activate barriers and to activate devices that could shift cover.

If the game was only a third person cover shooter it would still look very good, but they said that what they wanted was constant variety in the levels, and it showed. There was a rail flight segment that required dodging object, a mini-game to destroy a virus and so on. Every couple of minutes the game appeared to throw something different at the player.

Unless something dramatic happens between now and when the game is released, expect Star Trek to completely demolish the lowered expectations that video game movies have.

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