Reflecting JJ Abrams' flashier, dumber Star Trek, the inevitable videogame spinoff is – you guessed it – a cover shooter. If you want to feel like the captain of your own starship, exploring the universe and seducing aliens, play Mass Effect. This is a game where you crouch behind bits of scenery and shoot giant lizards with lasers.
Yes, that's right: giant lizards. They're the Gorn, one of whom Kirk famously, and hilariously, fought in the original series. The good news is that they no longer look like stuntmen in cheap rubber suits. The bad news is that they're worse than that. There have been so many brilliant Star Trek villains over the years – the Borg, Q, the Klingons – all of whom are infinitely more interesting than these one-dimensional, oversized reptiles.
This is third-person shooting at its most rudimentary. There aren't even any cool sci-fi weapons to play with, just re-skinned shotguns and rifles that fire lasers instead of bullets. There's something absurd about seeing Spock running around shooting monsters with a space shotgun – even the new, moody Spock – and it doesn't fit his character at all.
The game has been designed with co-op in mind, but this side of it is just as uninspiring as the combat. Kirk and Spock have to work together to pry open doors, give each other leg-ups, and hack locked doors, which again doesn't exactly suit their roles in the series. It's a shame to see these great characters and their nuanced relationship reduced to the level of fist-bumping space-bros.
Playing with a friend, you might get some fun out of it. Playing solo, it's a farce. The AI is abysmal, and you'll often wonder why the next part of the level won't trigger, only to see Kirk frozen in place or Spock stuck behind a crate. The game actually broke for me at one point. I needed to complete a two-man puzzle to proceed, but my AI buddy wouldn't respond to any of my commands. He just stood there dumbly, ignoring me. Great.
There are some attempts to add variety to the routine: simple puzzles, the ability to stun rather than kill certain enemies, and dull, sluggish Tomb Raider-style climbing. Worst of all, though, is the hacking. Almost everything you interact with results in one of a handful of tiresome hacking minigames.
You also get to command the Enterprise, but Star Trek's tactically tense space battles are nowhere to be found. Instead, you move a crosshair slowly around the screen and fire weedy lasers at waves of ships. There's no feedback at all, or any sense that you're hitting anything. The ship doesn't even move – it just hangs confusingly in place. This was one of the worst levels I've ever played, in any game.
What Star Trek gets right is the tone of the rapport between Kirk and Spock. Zachary Quinto and Chris Pine are good actors, and do an admirable job of selling the hit-andmiss script. Their light-hearted back-and-forths are entertaining, and bring some humour to the otherwise drab, repetitive levels.
The bridge looks nice, too. Occasionally you get to wander around the ship, exploring and talking to your properly voiced and faced crew, but these areas are small, and it's never long before things start boringly exploding again. After years of being burned by crap film tie-ins I didn't have much hope for Star Trek, but this failed to live up to even my lowest expectations.