"We have them just where they want us."
Without a doubt, I am a certifiable Star Trek noob. I know Trekkies will scream "Blasphemy!" at me for saying this, but the Mass Effect series is the "Star Trek" of my life and, dare I say, of many players my generation. This isn't to say that Star Trek was irrelevant to my childhood, as I remember flipping through cable channels and occasionally stopping to watch a spare few episodes of The Next Generation. Now that I'm older, though, I decided a few months ago that I needed to upgrade my all-around nerdiness, to pay homage to that which inspired Mass Effect in the first place. I'm currently in the fourth season of The Next Generation (don't worry, people, I'll go back to the original series too), and so in many ways, I feel that this Star Trek video game has come at just the right time.
Paramount Pictures and Digital Extremes have spared no expense in the production of this fully fledged Star Trek title; in fact, as Brian Miller, SVP of Paramount Pictures, has claimed, its three-year cycle for a movie-based game is nearly unheard of in the industry. The developers brought together the cast and crew of the Star Trek movie reboot without exception—actors, set designers, costume designers, composer, and pretty much everyone else involved. Perhaps this was because all of them had the priviso that it was either the entire crew or none of the crew, but I think the real reason runs deeper: Perhaps more than any other franchise in existence, Star Trek deserves to have at least one stellar video game this console generation. (Yep, I even considered Superman in this assessment.)
Besides, with the strides that the Halo and Mass Effect series have made in the industry, we—and Star Trek fans around the world—are more than ready for this Star Trek revival. But perhaps Trekkies are not convinced: What can a video game offer that they can't otherwise read or watch? The answer to that shouldn't be too far from one of the core themes of Star Trek in the first place: exploration. With the knowledge and talent the developers have at their fingertips, they were able to bring life to the world of New Vulcan, expand upon the Federation weaponry, flesh out the culture of the Gorn, and recreate the Enterprise with ridiculous detail and with numerous areas of the ship that fans would not be able to see otherwise. What's behind the TurboLift anyway? Well, now fans will know.
As either Kirk or Spock, players will need to perform all of the duties of a Starfleet officer. Since this is a video game, this means plenty of action sequences where Kirk and Spock will need to find cover, bring enemies down with their phasers, lob grenades, and dodge attacks—anything to make sure that the Gorn doesn't get their hands on a terraforming device on New Vulcan. But the developers know better than to produce only run-and-gun sequences and call it Star Trek. In between sequences, players can explore the ship, converse with various NPCs and their fellow crew, analyze objects with their tricorder, and hack into consoles by means of a simple mini-game.
Many of these non-combat actions award extra experience points that players who don't care about exploration will miss, but of course then they won't find hidden easter eggs and journal logs, all canon to the rebooted Star Trek universe. Yep, though this video game adventure takes place between the first and second Star Trek movie, that doesn't mean this "in-between-quel" doesn't matter. Don't be surprised if Star Trek Into Darkness, releasing May 17, references something in the video game that other Trekkies don't know about.
Another important facet of the game is that it's truly cooperative, either online or local. The AI will take over as the other player if need be, but Star Trek is built for cooperative (slightly bromantic) gameplay. Spock and Kirk can pick each other up if one of them is incapacitated, and sometimes one player can disable or destroy various obstacles for the other. In one heated sequences, Spock will need to shoulder Kirk to sick bay while Kirk fires his phaser at enemies, even when he's on the sick bay table. As Kirk would say: "Not one hundred percent efficient, of course... but nothing ever is."
Board the Enterprise when Star Trek arrives on April 23, 2013 in North America and April 26, 2013 in Europe for Xbox 360, PS3, and PC.