Regardless as to where you sat on Star Trek versus Star Wars (most of us were on both sides, anyway), there’s no denying that the latter had the best games. LucasArts was a legendary game developer with best-in-class titles, long before Blizzard held the crown. (Then, y’know, things changed.) Meanwhile, Star Trek never had a homebase developer that would ensure its games got the proper love and respect they deserved. So with the recent announcement of a new Trek game, in the form of a shooter to be released in time for the new film next year, how is anything different? I just don’t see how.
Star Trek lends itself to the most generic tropes of science fiction. Whether it was its own fault or not, there’s really not that much that’s fantastical or highly imaginative about its universe compared to Star Wars. Everyone has standard sci-fi guns, wearing standard sci-fi uniforms in generic sci-fi ships. Again, part of that can be contributed to how then-series heads Berman and Braga ran Trek into the ground in the late 90s and early 00s, but it is a huge obstacle when other games in the genre are mining the same conventions.
Bragging about cooperation with the filmmakers for the development of the story/assets is always a non-event, primarily because the publisher or developer uses this to compensate for weaker aspects of the game. Usually all of them. This new game claims to take place in the years after the 2009 film, but is it going to feel like a logical extention of that film or just be awkward canon? Precedent says the latter, articles about this game dont make me optimistic.
Developer Digital Extremes’ track record is, well… They did bring us Unreal Championship a decade ago, a stripped down port of Epic’s Unreal Tournament 2003 that worked well on the original Xbox, but their games since then? Pariah was a generic sci-fi shooter (wait, this is already making sense…) and Dark Sector turned no heads as a Gears of War-alike.
The game doesn’t actually look any good. Which seems like a shallow knock considering i haven’t seen the game in action, but the trailer does not dress to impress. Just look at it. Their disclaimer that everything is in-game footage is laughable considering the game, sans some of blurring and lighting effects, is not a looker. That aside, it looks like a Gears of War mod, sans that game’s unique atmosphere. There’s a reason why that game features large, disproportionate characters: they’re easily recognizable from a variety of distances. Kirk and Spock running around in space suits of different colors? Not nearly as much.
But you know what? I really want them to surprise me. And if i end up wrong on this one, everyone wins. Until then, I just don’t see this breaking the Trek curse.