Choose at random, if you will, a videogame based on a recent film. Nine times out of ten, you will have no doubt just chosen a truly terrible game. Whether it’s IRON MAN 2, DR SEUSS: HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS or any one of the seven (7!) games spawned from Michael Bay’s TRANSFORMERS franchise, you’re probably better off introducing your eyes and ears to a mechanical cheese grater than partaking in the ‘pleasures’ these virtual realities have to offer.
Still, every once in a while, a lone game rears its neck from the sordid pit of movie tie-in despair; shaking off the manacles of rushed production and gleaming with loving care and attention to detail. Think KING KONG, THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS or GOLDENEYE – but even then, the majority of these games are from previous console generations. With the ever more advanced technology we’re seeing, in tandem with franchises that seem a natural fit for videogame tie-ins (like the aforementioned IRON MAN), why is it that the only decent movie tie-in games of this generation are the LEGO games?
Whatever the reason, it looks as if, just as the PlayStation 4 has been announced and the next console generation is on the horizon, the current one is finally getting a major movie videogame tie-in worth boasting about. A couple of hundred journalists descended on the Science Museum in London on Tuesday for the launch event of STAR TREK: THE VIDEO GAME, and let us be among the first to tell you that it looks bloody brilliant.
A veritable mash-up of genres, it takes the best bits from the greatest of this generation’s games and packs them into one beautifully promising game engine, polished off with a STAR TREK coating. MASS EFFECT; UNCHARTED; ARKHAM ASYLUM – elements from all have found their way into STAR TREK: THE VIDEOGAME, and luckily for us it all seems to cohere fantastically.
The game has been in production for almost three years now, which is more than triple the time usually allocated to development of movie tie-ins (which probably goes some way to explaining their usual state). Over that time every cast member, crew member and tea boy who worked on JJ Abrams’ 2009 reboot of the franchise has been consulted on the project, which features a brand new, original story – set between the 2009 film and upcoming sequel STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS.
As Senior Vice President of Paramount Games Brian Miller stressed while a colleague gave a live demonstration of the puzzle-solving, phaser-zapping gameplay, the villain of the narrative was an important choice for the development team – but also an easy one. Yes, it’s the rubber-suited, limp-wristed Gorn! Die-hard Trekkies will, of course, know full well who that is; the rest of you will no doubt realise you also knew all along after watching this YouTube video.
With 15 different types of Gorn to fight, from the wolf-like, primitive melee attackers to the advanced Gorn Commanders, there’s plenty to get stuck into. Chuck in around 25 different weapons, each with two abilities, as well as the host of different gameplay types on offer from a game that combines the detective work of ARKHAM ASYLUM with the gunplay and exploration of MASS EFFECT and UNCHARTED, and STAR TREK looks very promising indeed.
There’s a strong emphasis on co-op, which is always welcome in the days of online multiplayer (gaming is a lot more fun in the same room), with the option to play as either Spock or Kirk. All likenesses are of course based on their current movie counterparts (so Zachary Quinto and Chris Pine respectively), with the actors providing voice work to make their interaction all the more realistic. And with some gorgeous visuals on display, much like those we’ve seen previously in Abrams’ film, it really feels like you’re part of the whole STAR TREK universe.
As movie tie-ins go, this is definitely one to watch.
STAR TREK: THE VIDEO GAME will be released on Friday 26th April on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC. Stay tuned for a full review of the game closer to release, also check out our gallery just below with some awesome screenshots! You can also follow them on Twitter.