E3 2011: Star Trek Demo Eyes-On

By Danl Haas

June 10, 2011

One of the few truly surprising announcements at this year’s E3 was definitely Paramount’s upcoming Star Trek, from developer Digital Extremes. Well, it isn’t so much surprising that one of the biggest movies of 2012 is getting a tie-in game, but the way the game is being handled definitely is. As we’ve previously mentioned, the game is a 3rd person shooter with a heavy emphasis on cooperative play between Captain James Tiberius Kirk and his first officer, Spock. I got to see a brief demo of live, pre-alpha code, so hit the jump for more details.

One of the first things the representative from Digital Extremes pointed out to me was the fact that this game is absolutely not a re-creation of the upcoming film. In fact, development of this title began more than a year and half ago, even before production for the new film was under way. Instead, this game will tell a story that takes place in between the first and second movies, although it is not necessarily intended to bridge the gap or serve as a lead-in to the sequel. The story was penned by the very talented God of War writer Marianne Krawczyk, who collaborated with the writers of the 2009 movie when coming up with her story.

The scenario on display had Kirk and Spock returning to the Enterprise after a mission to find it stranded in space, tethered by mysterious bands of energy and surrounded by depth charges, preventing them from approaching in their shuttle. They manage to board the Enterprise by using personal propulsion units in a brief on-rails flight segment. After landing on board, they begin unraveling the mystery of the mostly-destroyed starship. This was done primarily using the iconic Tricorder to scan the (naturally) dead Red Shirts found laying around the ship. It was revealed that they had been killed by some form of unknown toxin.

The demo was focused on showing off the asymmetrical gameplay of Kirk and Spock. They each have distinct weapons, abilities, and objectives that are specific to their character and personality. For example, at one point during a gunfight with a mysterious alien force, Kirk’s leg becomes infected with the aforementioned toxin. Spock picks him up and starts towing him to medical bay, which forces the player controlling Spock to handle navigation while the player controlling Kirk defends the pair with his captain’s-issue phaser pistol.

They successfully get to med bay and remove the toxin from Kirk’s leg, but the subsequent gunfight didn’t go so well, and both are knocked out. Kirk wakes up on the bridge, and sees Spock taken hostage by the aliens. Although they are impossible to understand, Spock theorizes they are trying to capture the ship, but there’s no way our ballsy protagonist would let that happen. Instead of handing them the keys, Kirk takes manual control of the shuttle on which the pair started the mission, and pilots it directly into the transparent aluminum of the bridge, smashing it open and killing the aliens. The demo ended with Kirk and Spock hanging onto the bridge console for dear life as the vacuum of space threatens to consume them.

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Overall, it’s looking very impressive. It’s still very early, and the developer made sure to mention that the scenario we saw does not necessarily represent something that will be in the final product, but the look and feel of the game replicates the 2009 film incredibly well. They said that the movie studio gave them absolutely unprecedented access to all the assets created for the movie, allowing them to build their game world with exacting accuracy, even in parts of the ship that were never actually shown on screen. You Trekkies out there will absolutely not be disappointed.

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Danl Haas

Danl is a home-grown Minnesotan gamer, artist, and programmer. He loves rhythm games, RTS, and platformers. He loves building computers, too. His favorite games include Phoenix Wright, Dance Dance Revolution, and Katamari Damacy.

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