A Bromance In Space
At NAMCO Bandai’s Global Gamers Day in Las Vegas last week, we got a bit of insight into the upcoming Star Trek game, based off the 2009 J.J. Abrams film. Now, most gamers tend to recoil at the thought of a movie tie-in game, but we’re convinced this one is worth at least keeping our eyes on.
To be fair, the phrase “movie tie-in” is probably not completely accurate here. Instead of retelling the events of the 2009 film, the purpose of this game is to expand the story further. The game is set to take place sometime after the events of the 2009 film, but we weren’t able to confirm the correlation between the game and the upcoming movie sequel—whether we should expect a story that takes place before, after, or even during the sequel film.
However, what we did get a look at is one of the game’s most exciting features: asymmetrical co-op. Players will take on the roles of Kirk and Spock, and each character will have different skills and experience different pieces of—or, at the very least, different perspectives on—the game’s story. (In fact, this is the first triple-A Star Trek game to allow players to fill the roles of these two beloved characters.) The example we saw involved an injured Kirk being escorted by Spock. Spock’s focus was holding up Kirk, thus he was able to walk and not shoot, while Kirk was able to shoot but not walk. This meant both players had to work together in order to survive the encounter. (In case you want to enjoy the game solo, you can play as either character while the A.I. will take over whichever character is left.)
Additionally, each character has a different set of skills that supports his unique personality. Kirk’s skill set will make him particularly good for players wanting to run and gun their way through the game, while Spock will focus more on stealth. One example that was explained to us is that Kirk will be able to stun enemies, but enemies coming out of stun will be alerted to your presence and will most likely be a bit cranky about the whole ordeal. On the other hand, Spock can put enemies into stasis, and they’ll come to not even knowing that time has passed, making this an excellent strategy for sneakier players.
It must be noted, also, that your weapons will gain XP during gameplay and will offer a series of upgrades. How this will fit into gameplay without disrupting Star Trek lore is yet to be seen, but we were assured that the game’s staff is quite large and includes enough Trekkers that we shouldn’t worry about it. Still, I’m sure hardcore fans might be at least a little nervous about the lore aspect of the game.
Another gameplay mechanic that shows a lot of promise is the game’s use of the Tricorder. At times during the gameplay demo, this almost felt like the Arkham games’ Detective Mode. At one point, we saw Spock discover a dead “red shirt,” and scan his body with the Tricorder to get more information. Players will also be able to use this in combat, doing things like raising shields or overriding the Enterprise ‘s systems.
The basic gameplay, though, should look familiar to anyone who’s played a third-person-shooter this generation. Players will move around in third-person view, and will be able to bring the camera into an over-the-shoulder perspective for aiming. However, we were told to expect more of an action/adventure game than a shooter, with a lot of exploration and downtime rather than merely jumping from gunfight to gunfight.
We were also told that the team was working hard to ensure that the game’s cutscenes would be interactive. At the beginning of the gameplay demo, we were shown Kirk and Spock lunching out of a smaller ship onto the Enterprise , and the players were forced to dodge debris and things while making their high-speed descent. This was just one example of this type of “interactive cutscene,” but it was certainly an intriguing one.
We don’t know a whole lot about the story at this point, but we were told the script—penned by Marianne Krawczyk, most famous for writing the God of War games—will focus on the relationship between Kirk and Spock. In fact, the game might even at times feel like a “buddy movie.” Beyond this, though, we don’t know quite what to expect. The reps we spoke with from both Digital Extremes, the game’s developer, and Paramount pictures were pretty tight-lipped on the thing. In fact, even the gameplay demo we were shown featured placeholder enemies, so we can’t even say with any certainty who the game’s villains will be (though we can speculate.) We were reassured, though, by Paramount’s own Brian Miller, that “you will not be disappointed.”
So far, all signs are pointing to a very well-done game that uses the J.J. Abrams Star Trek films as a jumping off point for a worthwhile gaming experience rather than merely milking the license. We were told to expect much more information, as well as the reveal of the game’s main antagonist, at E3 this year. That’s less than two months away, so keep an eye on Cheat Code Central for more details.