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I guess I just like liking things

Let's shoot a bunch of things!  With phasers!

Let’s shoot a bunch of things! With phasers!

The instant you slap the Star Trek label on something my interest is piqued. Years and years of great Trek have conditioned me to salivate when that bell is rung again. I went into the 2009 movie with some trepidation, but I was still inclined to like it.  And I did!  …mostly. It was, as Scotty himself said in the movie, exciting.  Boom boom powsplosions all over the place.  I even liked the time travel causing a new future angle, as in my mind that meant they couldn’t have gotten to this timeline without the original timeline, so it didn’t erase anything, it just split off.  Next time you’re hanging out with me I’ll draw you a diagram that makes it work in my mind. I’d reproduce it here but it’s best if it’s crazily scribbled on a napkin in a diner.

Then this summer we got Star Trek Into Darkness. I liked it okay, but now have even more problems with this version of Trek. You’ve likely heard all the gripes before, so I won’t dwell on them, but I will briefly touch on them: the new Trek focuses on the shiny and the bombast and the look and the explosions to the exclusion of the characters and the point. If we didn’t have Previous Trek imprinting itself over these characters so we had some idea of who they are we wouldn’t have any idea about any of them. In the original series, we didn’t just get told that Kirk, Spock, and McCoy are the best of friends, we saw it over and over. I understand that the movies don’t have as much time as 79 hours of TV do, but you’re working through a series of films here, people, take some time to build this stuff. Having Spock Prime tell New Spock he should be friends with New Kirk because Spock Prime and Kirk Prime were the best of friends robs all four of the characters of a little something, I feel. New Trek wants to separate itself out from Classic Trek while at the same time using Classic Trek as a shortcut to attach meaning and depth.

My current views on the movie series: I like it well enough, but it isn’t real Trek.

But the title of this article says this is a game review?  Yes. But to get to that, I had to go through what the deal is with the movies, because what the movies do a little, the game does a lot. Shoot this, shoot that, shoot another thing, and then run around, and then shoot a bigger thing. It’s all action, no exploring, no “this is the best of us because we worked out all the bad stuff,” (a philosophy I find hopeful but ridiculous at the same time, because it’s clearly not happening, but it’s essential to what Trek is, so its absence makes the new stuff pale even more).

I like the storyline: the remaining Vulcans are trying to find a new planet to live on, and in the process have created a device to help them, except that the device causes space rips and all of a sudden there are Gorn everywhere. Now the Gorn want the device and Kirk and Spock have to stop them [by shooting everything]. The movie cast voice their characters, and Simon Pegg seems to be having as much fun as usual, but Zoe Saldana sounds like she’d rather be anywhere else doing anything else. The supporting cast isn’t in it much, though, as it’s pretty much Kirk and Spock shooting things on the Enterprise, then on New Vulcan, then on a Gorn Ship, with a few “dodge the space debris”  jumps like both movies have had so far. Camera and control issues combined with the lack of Trekness made this a much less enjoyable game than it could have been.

But I need to say a few things about what I liked, right?  That’s kind of our deal around here. So here you are, the things I liked:

  • The Gorn redesign is pretty good for the most part. They’re like terrifying dinosaur people now.
  • The very, very small parts where you could walk around bits of the Enterprise. However, it made me wish they had created a whole Enterprise that I could wander about freely.  How hard would that be, hmm?  Not very, I’m thinking. Really, it made me want a Star Trek/Mass Effect hybrid kind of game.
  • Spock gets to mindmeld with fallen foes every so often, to learn passcodes and what-have-you. But… at the same time, I know enough about Vulcans to know they don’t like to mindmeld all willy-nilly as it’s very personal. I had a hard time believing Spock would be so quick to do it even as I was fanboying out about being able to mindmeld.
  • Scanning things with a tricorder. It’s an awful lot like Batman’s Detective Vision in the Arkham games, and that’s a favorable comparison. In my second run of this game (specifically to pick up/scan all the extras), I’m basically just tricordering the whole time.
  • You can set your game to public so anyone else can pop in at any time to play the character you’re not playing. This is both good and bad, depending on the player who drops in. The first drop-in I had was great and I was sorry when I had to go. Everyone else after that was frustrating enough that I changed my games to private. I think it might be fun to play with a friend, though.
  • This commercial for the game, which is one of the best things William Shatner has ever done, especially considering he’d been a little hurt by not being included in the new films like Leonard Nimoy was.

Overall rating: Rent it or borrow it from me

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