|System: X360 (XBLA), PS3 (PSN), PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Naked Sky Entertainment||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: PUBLISHER||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: May 13, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-12||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Derek Hidey
Forget 3D planes, shield modulation, transporters, away teams, escort missions, and all the other complexities of nearly all the past Star Trek games ever developed. What you're left with is Star Trek D-A-C, the latest Star Trek game and the first one based on J.J. Abrams' latest film. Developed by Naked Sky Entertainment and published by Paramount, Star Trek D-A-C has all the classic characteristics of a movie tie-in game, which leaves most experienced gamers hesitant. Let's face it, historically, games based on movies just aren't that great.
Perhaps the fundamental problem with games based on movies is the idea that it must somehow complement the movie, whether by contributing to the story or by attempting to invoke the same emotions. Either way, games are just too different from movies to really accomplish either very successfully, and, thankfully, this lesson seems to have been learned by the developers of Star Trek D-A-C.
Star Trek D-A-C is an action game, and it knows it. The game is based on ship-to-ship combat between the Federation and the time-traveling Romulans; sorry, no Klingons. Played from a top-down, 2D perspective, D-A-C has an almost nostalgic feel to it, as if it seems more like the kind of 8-bit Star Trek games our fathers may have played. Nevertheless, the amount of polish and gloss applied here is not to be underestimated.
Visually, the game looks about as good as it can considering its 2D limitations. The new Star Trek style captured in the film translates well on the Xbox 360. The environments are colorful and deep, allowing gamers to navigate them with ease, and the visual effects for the weapons and explosions are just as good. Sure, they aren't going to blow you away, but they aren't meant to either. Instead, they complement the game's style and gameplay as well as they can.
Fans of the film will be happy to know that the sound effects and music in D-A-C is copied over and works perfectly. Despite being an arcade game, D-A-C boasts some rather deep and rich sound, which is just another example of its production quality. The only downside here, and probably only for a select few, is that the game features no voiceovers from the film's cast, but considering there is no direct tie-in to the movie's plot, it isn't a big deal.
Players will have three different ship types to choose from while playing, which can be changed before each respawn. They are the Flagship, which is the Enterprise for the Federation, the fighter, and the bomber. Each ship handles very differently and requires a different style. For example, the Flagship's weapon requires the player to aim a small circular reticule around the screen with the right analog stick. On the other hand, the Fighter just needs to have its nose pointing in the direction it wants to shoot. Each ship has its strengths and weaknesses, whether it's having powerful weapons, being fast and agile, or having a little of both. Furthermore, while the Federation ships look different from the Romulan counterparts, the game mechanics are identical, making both teams' ship types balanced.
The game also features a total of four maps, only two of which can be played in Assault or Conquest mode. Throw in some interesting power-ups that can be collected, such as short-term shield boosters and a type of shockwave that pushes enemy ships away, and the simplistic arcade-style gameplay gets a little interesting. There are also repair power-ups dispersed throughout the map, and they also drop from destroyed ships, so the best way to stay alive is to stay on the offensive.
One interesting twist to the gameplay, which adds another dimension, is the use of escape pods. When the player's ship is destroyed, he or she has a few seconds to eject an escape pod. Once the escape pod is away, the player must guide the escape pod in retreat and remain alive for a few seconds. If accomplished, the player is rewarded by being allowed to instantly respawn. However, if the escape pod is destroyed, the player must sit in a respawn queue, wasting valuable time and giving the enemy an advantage. While it certainly isn't the most novel feature to ever grace a game, it is nice to see.
To help expand on its simplicity just a bit, D-A-C also features three game types: Team Deathmatch, Assault, and Conquest. Besides appearing to be the answer to the mysterious "D-A-C" in the title, which many gamers are still debating on the game's official forum, the three gametypes do provide some replayability. Of course, team deathmatch is rather standard, Assault makes one team the attackers and the other team the defenders. Then, control points are setup on the map, each one is a step closer to the defending team's base control point. The attackers must capture each control point one at a time until, eventually, capturing the enemies' base, all within a time limit. The mechanics here are simple, players fly into the control point areas and remain there until the point is taken.