Star Trek (The Game) – E3 Preview

It’s a no win scenario. The Enterprise sits wounded in the middle of a minefield, held in place by some mysterious energy strings, helpless. She’s locked her systems down to protect herself, something has infected her and she needs her captain. It doesn’t look like he can help her though; he too is also trapped on board a shuttle just on the fringe of the minefield. It’s too risky to try and pilot the shuttle in, her captain and first officer have no other logical choice. Suit up, grab a life support propulsion unit each and jump out the back door of the shuttle craft into the minefield. Lucky for her, Kirk doesn’t believe in no win scenarios.

Lee Cummings, head of creative for Paramount Digital Entertainment, explains to us that Star Trek has been in development for just over a year and a half with at least another year of production to go whereas most licensed games get around a year, if they are lucky. It’s refreshing that Paramount have given the game’s developers,  Digital Extremes, a good length of time to do what is right by Star Trek. He continues to explain that they are trying to make the game as authentic as possible; they are working day to day with the guys from JJ Abrams’ production company Bad Robot and Damon Lindelof who produced the last Star Trek movie. The game is very much part of that new movie universe in every detail, right down to the Enterprise herself being constructed from the Industrial Light and Magic model used in the latest films. However the first goal of the developer wasn’t to create an authentic Trek experience. Back in the pre production stages, and during those early talks with Bad Robot, it was explained to the game’s developers that, when creating the Star Trek movie, their goal was to create an amazing sci-fi movie before it was a Trek movie. Digital Extremes have taken that same core idea and applied it to the new game by setting out to create an amazing co-op game with very tight gameplay, and a co-op experience like no other previous game, before being a Trek game.

Kirk and Spock aren’t just two interchangeable characters here, they both have their own play styles and abilities but, more importantly, their own personalities. Towards the end of the playable sequence where you hurtle through the mine field towards the Enterprise, Spock calmly and smoothly switches off his propulsion unit and steps through the open airlock where as Kirk, in true Kirk style, overcooks his landing and comes skidding down the corridor on his arse into a stack of standard issue Starfleet crates. It’s these “numb tongue moments” as Steve Sinclair from the developer Digital Extremes calls them that keep the game fun and balances out the drama of the story, while keeping the levity of new Trek.

During the demo it was our job to work out what has crippled the Enterprise and killed some of her crew. A Redshirt lies dead in the corridor, but to find out what happened to him you’ll need your tricorder, which acts as a tool for many things in the game. The tricorder can be used hack doors, activate Starfleet equipment or gain that little bit of extra information by scanning items or people, providing an extra bit of hidden depth that you wouldn’t get unless you were looking for it. In this instance we’re using it to try work out what has happened to our standard issue dead Redshirt, Ensign Spannos, as well as unravel what has caused the Enterprise to go into command lockout. Upon scanning Ensign Spannos, we learn that he had been infected by a deadly toxin, as have other crew members on board that will need to be found if you want to learn more about the toxin. It was at this point where we received a distress signal originating in the upper shuttle bay from another crew member.

A short ride in the turbo lift takes us to the cargo bay, which should be instantly recognisable to any Trek fan. It becomes apparent that the close collaboration Digital Extremes have with both the Bad Robot team and ILM, who also provided the art assets and deck plans for the internals of the Enterprise, works well in bringing the player the most authentic Star Trek experience possible. That’s not to say that the developers haven’t taken a few liberties with Trek canon, and one such instance is with the weapons. Both Kirk and Spock now have their own custom weapons; Kirk carries a special Captain’s issue phaser which has two modes: stun and kill. Stun does exactly that, and will cause enemies to drop to the floor for a few seconds before getting back up and shaking it off, while kill does exactly what it says on the tin and when enough kills have been pulled off a special vaporise shot will become available.  Spock carries a custom Vulcan pistol which, again, features a kill setting but replaces stun for stasis, the difference being that stasis causes the enemy to freeze on the spot with no knowledge that they have been attacked, whereas with stun the enemy will get back up and start looking for you. Spock’s weapon also features a special fully-automatic mode in the place of Kirk’s vaporise that can be activated once enough kills have been reached.

The team at Bad Robot were keen to stress to the game’s developers that they didn’t want “blah blah blah talking head cinematics”, as Steve Sinclair describes them, so in their place the team have put in a new, more interactive, type of cut scene (no, not quick time events). Instead, the cut scene will play out for each player from their character’s point of view during which time they still remain in part-control of the action. The example we were shown featured Kirk running for cover, coming towards the camera while the player had control only of Kirk’s weapon, again not in a frustrating mini-game or quick time event way, but in a very fast paced, seamless and dynamic way that fitted perfectly with that brief moment. The tricorder also becomes a valuable tool for both players during combat, allowing the player to trigger overloads in power conduits to distract and even kill enemies standing near by or for controlling Starfleet equipment and using it to your advantage.

Like all good co-op games, teamwork with your partner plays an important part of Star Trek and requires each player to play to their strengths. Spock needs to be played like a ninja, and covertly take out the enemies, while Kirk is all about drawing attention to himself and creating distractions for Spock to take advantage of, be it with his stasis shot or getting close enough to an enemy to mind meld with them, confusing the enemy into fighting for Kirk and Spock rather than against them. This teamwork between Kirk and Spock really creates that ‘buddy movie’ feeling, and a sense that you really are working together rather than just shooting baddies until they are all dead.

At one point during our demo, Kirk takes a nasty shot in the leg and is downed, now infected by the same toxin poor Ensign Spannos was earlier. Kirk calls out for help and Spock needs to make his way through the fire fight to him which, again going back to what I said earlier, doesn’t happen within a cut scene – it’s all dynamically part of the game. Once Spock makes it over to Kirk, it’s not as boring as pressing X to revive either, he needs to pick up his Captain and carry him to a med bay, but Kirk is in a pretty bad way and can’t walk so Spock needs to use both his arms to carry him leaving the person playing Spock to do the navigating while the player controlling Kirk is left to do the shooting with his one free arm.

Once at the med bay, Spock places Kirk on the gurney and then needs to operate the medical laser while Kirk covers the two of them with weapon fire. Remember the poor Redshirt we met back at the start? Well if we had managed to find and scan a few of the other Redshirts along the way, Spock would have more information about the toxin and, as a result, be able to operate on Kirk in the medical bay more accurately and, more importantly, faster. With Kirk now back on his feet, the fire fight which had never ever ended since the cargo bay continues as our time on board the Enterprise comes to an end.

Star Trek The is more than just a shooter. It’s more than just a cheap tie-in for the upcoming sequel. It has its own unique story, penned by the BAFTA award winning Marianne Krawczyk (God of War ), and team members from the last Star Trek film, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman. Everything you love about the new Star Trek has made it in here; the lens flares, the little pops and whistles of the Enterprises systems, the humour, the drama and, more importantly, the spirit that the new movie captured so well.

Last five articles by Lee



  1. Knikitta says:


    So many ‘want’ games coming out!

    You drew me right in as always and left me wanting to more!

  2. Lorna Lorna says:

    Actually interested in this, despite it being a very heavy co-op experience. It makes a change that a tie in game isn’t beging rushed and chucked out on the shelf too. If it does well, we can probably expect a sequel, maybe even with multiplayer as folk take on various crew members, not just Kirk and Spock.

  3. MrCuddleswick says:

    Oh my God this game looks so freaking sweet. zzzz-ap.

  4. Lee Lee says:

    @Cuddles – it was bloody amazing. I’d of brought it as it was.

  5. Edward Edward says:

    I have to admit I haven’t seen any Star Trek, but this looks interesting to play thanks to the fact they’re making the co-op characters varied. I think with the weapons it looks like there’s also potential for stealth runs and hopefully there’ll be rewards for killing fewer people (like in Metal Gear games).
    Still, looks pretty awesome, and a great write-up Lee :D

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