Star Trek, one of the world's most popular science fiction series, is no stranger to the world of video games. In fact, the Star Trek-based (but not official) Netrek was considered to be the first internet team game. This new Star Trek game, with no title after it like Star Trek: Rise of the Alien Bad Guys, is based on the recent J.J. Abrams reboot of the film franchise, and features the likenesses of Chris Pine as Captain Kirk and Zachary Quinto as Spock. It's set after the first film, and offers gamers the ability to co-op through the game as Kirk and Spock for the first time.
The game is being developed by Digital Extremes, the company behind BioShock 2, Dark Sector, and The Darkness 2, and is being written by Marianne Kramczyk, the BAFTA award-winning author of the God of War series. Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, the writing team on the film, and Damon Lindelof are all serving as collaborators as well, in conjunction with Bad Robot. Game Director Steve Sinclair pointed out that since they're working with the original film team, that gives them inside access to assets. "Like one day, this encrypted hard drive just showed up at our offices, and it had all of the specs, blueprints, photos, CGI, and data on the Enterprise. So we're using the exact same hero ship that's in the movie in our game."
The game is a standalone title, in the gap between the first film and the next film (which we weren't given any details on), and in the build we saw there was stand-in audio for Spock and Kirk, and we hope they'll be able to use audio from the actual actors in the game when it ships. They've been working on the game for a year and a half, and it will be at least another year before the game comes out. What that really means is that they have a lot of time to work on this, which isn't the case for most movie or franchise tie-ins. Could Star Trek shed the bad video game film adaptation stigma? Based on what we were shown, it sure looks like it.
So what did we see? With gameplay presented on two separate screens to highlight the co-op nature of the title, Kirk and Spock are returning to the Enterprise after being away in a shuttlecraft, and off in the distance you can see the ship held in place by ribbons of energy. They can't approach the ship directly via the shuttle, so they perform a space jump using a LSPUs - Life Support Propulsion Units - in a sort of Thunderball / James Bond style. They have to navigate through a field of depth charges, and then approach the ship through one of the docking hatches. As they land, Spock touches down gracefully, while Kirk skids to a crash landing into a pile of crates. Once onboard, it's clear that something is very wrong. The crew is missing, and the ship has gone into command lockout.
Using their Tricorders to override the lockout, Kirk and Spock board the ship, which seems to be completely deserted. Making their way through the corridors, they come across several downed redshirts, who never fare well in a Trek outing. Proving that a Tricorder would really come in handy, they also use them to check out corpses for clues. Doing so, they find out that the bodies contain a very strong toxin. After they receive a scratchy distress call from an Enterprise crew member coming from the shuttle bay, they board a nearby turbolift and head off in search of the signal.
Once in the shuttle bay, which is rife with Abrams-esque lens flares, our two heroes quickly come under fire. Underscoring the play differences in the game between Kirk and Spock, Kirk is armed with a Captain's Only phaser. It's a beefier version of the standard issue sidewarm, and can be upgraded through gained experience in the game. Case in point, Kirk can add an extremely sweet "Wrath of Khan" vaporize setting to his phaser, which wipes enemies from existence. You'll also obtain different abilities via light RPG elements, like an advanced Vulcan shield that protects you somewhat and recharges over time, much like Master Chief's shield.
In the shuttle bay, Kirk takes fire from one of the enemies, and the deadly toxin starts working its way through his system. He crawls to cover, and Spock heads over to assist, dragging him towards sick bay. The very nifty co-op element here is that while Kirk is being dragged, Spock can't shoot. So, Kirk has to provide covering fire while they make their escape. Once in sick bay, and depending on how many redshirts you investigated, Spock has to identify the toxin and neutralize it. The more data you collected earlier, the quicker this will go. But while he's doing this, sick bay is being overrun, and you again have to provide cover from your bed. No rest for the sick.
While the game seems like it will primarily be an action shooter, both Kirk and Spock have different styles of play, which is highlighted throughout the game. Spock is more calculating and logical in his decisions, while Kirk is brash and headstrong, often charging into a situation without thinking things through. That's not to say that Spock resists Kirk's decisions, but he'll often quip about how things are going, based on his shipmate's actions.
There's an entire end sequence to the demo we were shown, but we're not allowed to talk about it yet. Suffice it to say, the game looks to be as action-packed as the last film, and with Pine and Quinto in the game, and Sinclair promising us that we'll see even more familiar faces, Star Trek is shaping up to set phasers on fun.