WTF is DAC?
Actually, we’re not going to tell you what the “DAC” stands for. We could… but then we’d have to create a splinter-universe and do terrible yet awesome things to your personal timeline. Okay, fine, it’s Deathmatch, Assault, Conquest. (Was that so hard?)
[image1]Coming hot on the heels of J.J. Abrams’ mondo, boot-to-the-ass reboot of the Star Trek premise (not to mention the release of "I Don’t Want to Go to Heaven As Long As They Have Vulcans in Hell", the newest album from Trek rockers Warp 11), Star Trek DAC is an accessible, top-down multiplayer starship brawl-fest based on the Federation-Romulan throwdown in the new movie. As GR’s resident ‘functional Trekker‘ (acne-free skin, girlfriends, lean build, all my hair, tolerance to sunlight, and everything!), it was up to me to get some hands-on with this good-looking, albeit ‘lite’ starship title.
Using film-based ship models, including the new, swoopy Enterprise—a touchy point among some Trekkers but still stylistic parsecs beyond the Next Generation’s goofy, macrocephalic aberration— Star Trek isn’t one of your more nerdy, system-specific, over-focused starship simulators in the vein of the old Star Fleet Command games, all drones and shield arcs and tractor-beams and transporters. This is actually a pity, because it’s frankly about time for a second whack at that approach, but I digress—instead, it reminds a little of the old Dreamcast title Armada (except, you know, without the un-changeable, fugged-up control scheme, about which I am unbelievably bitter to this day).
Ship control is simple—move your starship via the left stick, and aim your specialty weapon and fire with the right stick. Beam-weapon fire (phasers) is an automatic, proximity-based affair for the Heavy Cruisers like the Enterprise, while other ships (see below) have to fire their weapons ‘manually’. Meanwhile, the left shoulder button offers a quick acceleration boost. Boost and ‘ammo’ are reflected by a power meter that regenerates.
[image2]Any accessible game needs power- or pick-ups, and DAC has ’em. They include general energy chunks blasted out of ambient asteroids, 2X and 3X shot spreads, seeking photon torpedoes, mines, temporary invulnerability, cloaking devices (yes, even for the Feds), and an equally-temporary ‘wingman’ starship that warps in to help you out.
As far as basic ship types go, you’ve got three choices: the (rather unimaginatively named) ‘fighter’ and ‘bomber’ are the obligatory functional bookends; the quick, nimble ship with armor like an eggshell; and the decently fast ship that eschews direct-fire armament like phasers and photon torpedoes in favor of mines you can lay about the battlefield to annoy the enemy. Of course, the star of the show is the capital ship—that is, the Enterprise for the Feds, and whatever we-made-it-up-this-week vessel for the Romulans. It’s big and it lumbers like the last kid picked for soccer… but, like that same kid, it has a lot of bulk and can do some damage, particularly with its independently aimed heavy weapons.
There is a solo component (11 bot enemies), but you’re really here for the multiplayer, with modes including the six-on-six Versus (PSN or Xbox LIVE) and Co-Op (six meat-players versus six bots). As expected, you’ll be taking over command points (starbases under construction) for territory-control challenges in Conquest, and cranking off more-than-occasional shots at tumbling asteroids for the pick-up materials they yield.
[image3]In a sort of throwback to early video games, a starship that’s getting really wailed on and about to breach its warp-core can jettison escape modules (essentially, ‘separating the saucer’). You’re completely vulnerable in this state, but if you can manage to scrape out five or so seconds in this condition, you can respawn with your previously collected goodies intact.
Beyond the obvious Deathmatch and the previously-mentoned Conquest, there’s Assault, a timed affair a lot like Conquest, except that teams are divided into offense and defense. One’s job is to secure a series of waypoints, the other’s is to gum up their works – easy as pie (pi? ha, ha, ha).
No yawning narrative, no split-screen multiplay, no obsessive system/interface-drilling, no freakin’ Prime Directive… just kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill Romulans (or Feds, if you’re like, a space-nazi pervert). There is chatter but no solid confirmation on DLC content that might, we can hope, edge this pretty albeit straightforward brawler toward more ‘in-depth’ territory. Here’s hoping Naked Sky—uh oh, mixed reference alert!—makes it so.