Star Trek – Preview
There is a long legacy of Star Trek games, starting way back in the 1970s, covering everything from Tactical Fleet games to the RTS, RPG and FPS genres. With the reboot of the movie series in 2009, it was a little strange that we hadn’t heard about a new game coming out in time with the film. This year, with the announcement of the sequel to the highly successful film, Digital Extremes announced that it would be creating a new Star Trek game set between the first and second movie. Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto reprise their roles as Kirk and Spock and we were lucky enough to be given a look at an early section of the new game at this year’s E3.
On entering the presentation room and being handed our 3D glasses (my first 3D experience ever) we settled in to watch the show, presented by lead designer Tom Galt. The first thing to know about Star Trek is that at its core it is a co-op third person shooter. Players will play as either Kirk or Spock and work through an original storyline developed by Digital Extremes. The developers describe the cooperative experience as asymmetric co-op. Each player will play through the same storyline but have very different gameplay experiences.
In the demo we were shown the Enterprise is making orbit at New Vulcan. Following the end of the 2009 film, (Spoiler Alert!) Vulcan was destroyed by the Romulan Nero, and the remaining Vulcans have resettled in the imaginatively named New Vulcan. The colony has gone silent and the Enterprise is on its way to investigate. Kirk and Spock beam down to the surface to investigate – not a red shirt in sight – and find that there is a nasty case of crazy ass Vulcan going around. The Gorn (the lizard people, one of which famously beat the crap out of Kirk in the original series) have landed on Vulcan and begun to infect the population, making them all just a little bit nuts.
Much of the gameplay is what you would expect from a third person shooter. As Kirk or Spock, you will find yourself moving through the levels from cover to cover. Where the game stands apart from, say, Gears of War is in the idea of asymmetric co-op that I mentioned above. During one fire-fight Kirk draws the fire of the two crazed Vulcans, taking one out with his phaser. Spock on the other hand manages to sneak around behind cover and deliver a nerve pinch, taking that enemy out of the fight without killing them. This then allows Spock to mind meld with the Vulcan to gain some clue as to what is going on. It’s an interesting mechanic and I’m keen to see where they take it.
Later in the demo we were shown the first of the Gorn. Gone are the slow-moving tall lizard people of the original series. These Gorn are more akin to the Lizard from Spiderman. They are fast, viscous and tough. From the get go, Kirk and Spock are attacked by one of the larger boss-type Gorn who can take a huge amount of damage. Again, asymmetric co-op comes in to its own with Spock using his tricorder to scan the Gorn and find weak points. Kirk can then capitalise on this and take the enemy out.
The demo promised an incredibly action packed third person experience. In our short ten minute demo the Enterprise fired photon torpedoes, orbital strike style, on an enemy force about to overwhelm Kirk and Spock. I really enjoyed what I saw and, to be honest, I can’t wait to get some hands-on time to see where they take this asymmetric cooperative gameplay. Will it be another made up phrase for stuff we have seen before, or will they really show us something fresh in a genre that, let’s admit it, is just a little grey and dull.
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