Trekkies will love Star Trek

Posted: May 7, 2009 in Shooter

Star Trek is the latest movie to use a game as a marketing tool, and upfront, if you’re a Trekkie, this will appeal to you right away. If you’re not, then there are far better and more cost-effective top-down shooters in the world of iTunes.

Star Trek is a very polished game with multiple levels and missions, achievement and power up system, and a variety of weapons. For a Trekkie, the game offers a fair amount of content and engaging gameplay, but the game also doesn’t offer anything groundbreaking that you haven’t seen with similar games or that justifies its higher price. The basic premise is that Capt. Kirk and his crew must destroy enemies of the Federation and do so in enemy space on board of the U.S.S. Enterprise. Star Trek has two modes: Campaign and Quick Play. In Campaign mode, there are 12 missions where you battle the 3 major races: Klingons, Cardassians, and Romulans. You’ll need to defeat the Klingons and defeat the boss before proceeding to the Cardassians and finally the Romulans. A map is provided that tracks your progress objectives. In Quick Play, you play the most recent race, with the Klingons being the lowly default, that you’re battling from Campaign mode (wow, that sounds wrong when I write that). The soundtrack is designed to sound epic as if that’s a surprise for Trekkies who have heard the theme songs from the various movies and shows. In the game, I found the epic soundtrack to be epically annoying.

The game provides three types of controls for the Enterprise: accelerometer, touch, and virtual joystick. All of them are responsive, but touch makes maneuvering the Enterprise through tight spots easier (e.g. asteroid fields and weapons fire). The game offers two levels of difficulty: Normal and Hard. Auto-fire is set by default, and when turned off, you tap the screen to fire in accelerometer and touch control modes. A fire button will appear if using the virtual joystick controls. I chose to turn off auto-fire to increase the difficulty because the game is almost too easy with auto-fire and touch. A health gauge is located on the bottom left-hand side.

Star Trek also offers an upgrade system awarding stars for completed missions, which can then use to upgrade shields, phasers, torpedoes, and tractor beam. It’s a nice level of depth, which I appreciate because the devs could have easily left this out. In addition to the upgrade, there is an Achievement and Medal system. There are 10 of these achievements in all, which add to the replayability. For example, Honorable Survivor is awarded for successfully completing the Klingon missions without failing. Spock would be proud to know that the Spock achievement is earned when scoring more than 200,000 points in a Romulan mission.

In terms of power ups, Star Trek doesn’t disappoint in that area. Some power ups include Health, Invincibility, Speed, Additional Torpedo and Phaser Launchers, Homing Torpedoes, Quantum Torpedos, Chain Phasers, Megaphaser and Deflector Shield. These power ups are temporary and when active, weapons-related power ups appear as small icons on the right side of the screen. Two additional ones that I want to point out are Wingmen which adds additional shooting support fighters; and EMP which temporarily freezes everything on the screen. During the game, you can also add to your score by rescuing survivors which I found a little off putting since these are Klingons, Cardassians and Romulans. But you get bonus points so be it.

In Star Trek, dialog boxes featuring depictions of the various crew that you know and love such as Kirk, Uhura and Spock appear with advice and more often than not, half useful comments. The gameplay is similar to any type of top-down shooter that many of us have experienced. You spend as much time weaving in and out of weapons fire and other tight spots as you do shooting enemies. During the game, power ups and enemies appear from the wreckage of enemy ships that the tractor beam will pull towards the Enterprise. Wreckage from destroyed enemies can actually destroy other enemies that come in contact with it, and the tractor beam can be used to move wreckage anywhere on the screen (a medal is actually awarded for destroying enemies this way). The backgrounds are beautifully rendered for each of the races and worlds, and the gameplay is engaging. I like shooter-type games, and felt at home with Star Trek. The boss fights can be entertaining and frankly, they can be the toughest part of the game.

If you’re a Trekkie, Star Trek is solid in that it offers more content than you would typically find in a game with a movie tie-in, which I think is a nice change. You only need to look at Terminator Salvation to see that this could be a positive trend. I would recommend Star Trek to Trekkies because it is packaged well and exudes the Star Trek aura. If you’re not a Trekkie or can wait, I suggest you hold off for the eventual price drop.

Albie Meter: 4 stars (recommended if you’re a Trekkie or have money to burn; otherwise, hold her steady until the price of dilithium crystals and Star Trek come down)

Check out my review on TouchArcade http://toucharcade.com/2009/05/08/eas-star-trek-a-vertical-shooter-for-trekkies/

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