E3 2012 Preview: Star Trek

Kirk and Spock investigate a distress call on New Vulcan.

After being handed a pair of Nvidia 3D Vision Glasses, I took my seat at Namco Bandai’s Star Trek theater at E3 yesterday. It was revealed that we would be watching two screens at once – this was going to be a co-op demo starring franchise favorites Captain James T. Kirk and Mr. Spock.

Opening with Michael Giacchino’s memorable score from the 2009 Star Trek movie, as well as an impressive shot of the Enterprise against the backdrop of space, the Digital Extremes-developed third-person shooter immediately captured the feeling of its source material. The actors from the film return to match their likenesses in this game, which is set between the 2009 movie and its upcoming sequel.

The major focus of the demo was a design feature referred to as asymmetrical co-op. During cooperative play, Kirk and Spock each fill unique roles. Kirk is a more aggressive character, taking wild risks and moving first into combat. Spock is equipped with a scanner device that allows for the investigation of a variety of environmental objects, ranging from button panels and dead bodies to the enemies themselves. This places Spock into what is usually a support role, but provides additional replay value for those who wish to experience the story from both perspectives. Each player gets their own version of cutscenes that focus on the actions of the character they’re playing as.

The first bit of dialogue in the demo shows off this split cutscene feature. Jumping into the command center of the Enterprise, we see a classic shot from the Star Trek franchise from two simultaneous perspectives. While one player’s camera focuses on Kirk as he gives instructions from the captain’s chair, the other shows Spock at his computer off to the side of the room. The crew is alerted that something is amiss on New Vulcan, the planet they’re orbiting, and the two cutscenes converge as the characters make their way through the ship. Immediately after, players are dropped to the surface of the New Vulcan colony to investigate a distress call. Upon their arrival at the settlement, the pair is attacked by enraged, diseased-looking Vulcan civilians. With phasers set to stun, we’re shown a standard cover-based shooting system.

After a bit of Spock’s scanning (executed by following the button prompt displayed over the item you’re viewing), a toxin is discovered within the blood of the afflicted Vulcans that seems to be the cause of their… illogical assault. The pair decide to climb to the roof, where they are surprised by a large force of hostile Gorn, a race of large, lizard-skinned, blood-thirsty, bipedal reptilians and the franchise’s most iconic enemies. The Gorn come in a variety of sizes, ranging from the smaller Gorn Rushers to the standard Gorn Warriors and the giant Gorn Brutes, and attack our heroes with hallucogenic poisons. Meanwhile, female Gorns are crawling all over the walls.

Spock scans the Gorn and a glowing weak point becomes visible to both players. After a bit of running and gunning through the Vulcan colony now eerily void of Vulcans, Kirk and Spock find themselves cornered and outnumbered. Scotty attempts to save them from certain death with a well timed air strike, but after a failed attempt to beam them up, several more Gorn ships arrive and the demo closes.

A strong audio and visual presentation matched with strong shooting mechanics and asymmetrical co-op proves that Star Trek‘s showing was surprisingly strong. This is one to watch. Star Trek launches for consoles and PC early 2013. View a new set of screenshots at the gallery.

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