This new Star Trek game is a 3rd person action-adventure title that focuses all emphasis on co-operative play. Players will be able to take control of either Kirk or Spock through a new story – written by Marianne Krawczyk (God of War) with assistance from Bob Orci and Alex Kurtzman (Star Trek the film) – which fits somewhere in-between J. J. Abrams 2009 Star Trek and the sequel which is due for release in 2012. Both Kirk and Spock will need to work together through levels so if playing alone the other character will be controlled by AI, but a friend can join and leave anytime. A PlayStation Move phaser attachment will also become available for those wanting that little bit more authenticity.
To help explain some of the gameplay concepts we were presented with an in-game demonstration. Two of the developers played on two different screens to show the alternate viewpoints when playing as either Spock or Kirk, but the game can also be played in local split-screen. The mission started with Kirk and Spock on a shuttle returning to the Enterprise, however unfortunately for them the ship had been captured while they were away and mines were blocking the route back. Kirk and Spock decided to leave the shuttle, using their Life Support Propulsion Units to get to the Enterprise. From here a 3rd person on-the-rails sequence commenced, with the player needing to dodge the mines and debris. Once Kirk and Spock had successfully negotiated the minefield they landed in an airlock. Well when we say landed we mean Spock landed on his feet while Kirk crashed through a pile of crates.
This demo didn’t have the authentic voice actors, and although at the time the developers could not reveal the cast it was later reported that Chris Pine (Kirk) and Zachary Quinto (Spock) will lend their voices to the game. Thanks to all area access to Star Trek resources the developers are also able to accurately recreate parts of the ship that fans may or may not have seen in the film. The comedy due proceeded through the ship corridors, where the tri-quarter was first put into use. Here it was used to scan damaged parts of the ship and a fallen red shirt security guy in order to find clues on what had happened. Before getting a proper chance to speculate they received a distress call coming from the shuttle bay.
Our two crusaders made their way to the shuttle bay but the distress call turned out to be a trap forged by those wretched aliens who are seizing control of the ship. A battle ensues which gives Kirk and Spock a chance to show-off their toys. The two characters have different types of attack which can be unlocked as they gain experience through the missions. Kirk can vaporise kill using a particularly power phaser attack while Spock can mind-meld with an enemy to confuse them into fighting for you, for example. Kirk and Spock won the battle but Kirk was left injured after being infected by an alien parasite. Spock drags Kirk to the medical bay where one of the team-play elements is shown.
In this particular example Spock attempts to remove the alien parasite via a mini-game, which is made easier if you previously scanned the red-shirted fellow earlier in the mission. In the meantime Kirk used his phaser to hold-off the advancing enemy. Once successful Kirk leaps to his feet and duck-behind cover combat begins. Kirk now uses a phaser rifle he picked up earlier which he can combine with a Spock shield that builds up energy for a massive energy burst, clearing the room of alien aggressors. The co-op combat feels very Gears of War but hopefully this special kind of teamwork in Star Trek will help differentiate the two. The pair head to bridge but the two are captured. Kirk is forced to unlock the system computers but while doing so he craftily directs their shuttle into the bridge, making the demonstration end in dramatic fashion.
From the early in-game footage we saw, Star Trek is looking to be a whole lot better than the average movie-tie. The 2009 Star Trek film re-launched the franchise to a wider audience, but this Star Trek game could still struggle against the likes of Gears of War, Dead Space and even Mass Effect, as indeed the biggest stand out feature is that it is being built in an authentic Star Trek universe. To pull a great game out of the bag the story will have to be strong (and with the writers on board it should be), the co-op will need to work well and be satisfying and the gameplay mechanics have to be prove solid and varied. There is certainly the potential to fulfil these points, so find out whether Star Trek sets your phaser to stun or to kill when it is released on PC, Xbox 360 and PS3 in 2012.