In lieu of not getting my Digital Tabletop together this week due mainly to not having the heart to run through more of Makeb due to the sudden loss of a friend, I’ve put some time into Star Trek The Game and decided to share some of my first impressions with everyone on it.
1. The game has a really disjointed start. You start with a player section where you can’t move but can fire on bad guys and then it blanks and you wake up and the two leads get up from being unconscious and go at each other. It fades again and we’re in Spock’s quarters playing chess. It’s a thirty second sequence that I’m guessing is supposed to give you some gameplay to start or wet the whistle, but honestly, they could have just started with the Tri-Chess sequence instead of confusing the crap out of us. It’s more cohesive, serves as a great intro for the characters and flows into the actual tutorial mission nicely. Thirty seconds of combat followed by a cutscene with no context breaks my brain.
2. Climbing. It looks and feels clunky, or rather unpolished. The character animations aren’t terrible and neither is the mechanic itself but after watching Lara do it so beautifully in Tomb Raider, seeing it here seems dated and isn’t very awe-inspiring.
3. Character facial animations could use some, well, work. Sometimes these are dead on for the scene and capture the emotion and everything needed okay. Other times the expression doesn’t match the actor and what we’ve seen them do at all and when they’re lower jaw is moving to provide the vocal match up they look like they’re trying to do the Mummy scream from those Brendan Frasier movies. Running, crouching, moving scanning all look decent and I havne’t noticed the jaw thing as much when I’m just walking around as I have in cutscenes.
4. For the most part the characters look like their new Trek cast almost perfectly. There is a bit of uncanny valley going on here and there but you’ll never sit there wondering who the hell is supposed to be on your screen.
5. The tricorder they’ve put in the game acts a lot like Lara’s Instinct vision mode in the new Tomb Raider. When you have it out you can look for where you’re supposed to go, track down ways to override doors, repair your partner’s shields, and use it to help hack terminals and find lore objects scattered about that give you experience.
6. They’ve tried to light the game like the actual films and it kind of works. Lens flares abound in different areas, but there is a kind of saturation that we used to see in older titles on the consoles this generation but not so much anymore. It can make the game look a little dated, but at the same time it looks a bit more like the films it’s trying to fit in with, so that’s a good thing in this case.
7. The AI partner when you’re not running around with an actual co-op person isn’t entirely stupid. You can order them about a bit with the tricorder to help get things moving and not once have I sat there scratching my head over what my partner was doing when I was ready to move on. I like the drop-in and out method that they’ve put into co-op, and having a healthy AI partner to take over when and if someone drops from your team will help immensely.
8. The sets look fantastic. Given that the game designers got their hands on the models from ILM however, this should not come as a shock. The ship, its corridors, the bridge, the shuttles and the shuttle bay all looked amazing from what I’ve seen. You really get a sense of how massive this version of the Enterprise is as well when you’re in the shuttle bay which easily dwarfs the bay on both the original series and refit ships. I spent a good five minutes just running around in there taking it all in just to get a better look at the hangar.
9. The banter. One of the things I’ve loved about the 2009 film and from what I’ve seen of the new film, is the banter between the crew of the Enterprise. While it wasn’t as frequent nor nearly as catty as it can be in the films in the Original Series, it was definitely there and more between the trio of Spock, McCoy and Kirk than anyone else, although in the new films they’ve started bringing everyone else in on it too, which I don’t think is a bad thing at all. I will honestly be replaying this game over again even if the story is terrible just to experience the banter between Kirk and Spock throughout. It’s been a lot of fun so far and they did a good job keeping it light and flowing.
10. Audio and voice cast. All of the main characters are voiced by their actual film actors in the game. Pine and Quinto really carry the show as they have the lion’s share of dialogue and it flows really well. You can tell the two were having a lot of fun doing this and it carries over into the delivery that adds to the game rather than detracts. The audio elsewhere from explosions to ship interior is carried over effects from the films but what really stands out is the fact they brought in the film’s composer to write the score for the game. After I finished the tutorial and they queued up the new Trek theme I got chills. It’s good stuff and amazing to hear a full orchestra running in a video game. I will be hoping and looking for the score to the game.