Asymmetrical Directives (E3 2012)
The new Star Trek movie was a blast. The new video game connects the first part with the upcoming sequel, and the developers, Digital Extremes, are working closely with J.J. Abrams and Bad Robot to make the experience as seamless as possible. For the live demo, a big group of journalists were taken through an airlock and into the theater for a dual 3D display. Two developers from Digital Extremes walked us through the demo with Spock played to the left and Kirk on the right. It was an incredible experience seeing the Enterprise in 3D, then entering the bridge and controlling either of the two players. Both Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto reprise their roles as Kirk and Spock, and it felt like being on the bridge with the pair. When the Enterprise receives a distress call from New Vulcan, they head to the planet and are concerned that their hails are going unanswered. Against Spock's advice, Kirk decides to beam down, because it's "more fun." There, they are attacked by Vulcans, who are infected with a strange toxin that makes them hostile.
The surprise reveal was that the new enemies in the Star Trek game are the Gorn. For those who don't know, the Gorn first appeared in the original series during the episode "Arena". It was a taut, tension-filled battle between Kirk and the Gorn initiated by a mysterious race called the Metrons, who wanted to see how savage and bestial humanity was. Kirk surprises the Metrons when he defeats the Gorn and shows mercy to his fallen foe. The episode was a complex morality tale that made audiences wonder if even the Federation could commit wrongs unknowingly.
The presence of the Gorns in this Star Trek game is more action-based. Like the TV series, the first Gorn that shows up is tough and requires a collaborative effort between Spock and Kirk. While Spock tends to rely on his tricorder for scanning and detecting weak spots, he also has his Vulcan nerve pinch. It was probably one of the most fascinating moments when he did a mind meld with one of the infected Vulcans and we got to directly see what that entailed.
After a long battle, the first Gorn is dispatched, but an army of smaller forces arrives and the two take cover as they fend off against the soldiers. The Star Trek developers referred to the system as Asymmetric Co-Op, meaning the two approach problems in very different ways. Kirk tends to brashly rush into situations as in one case where there's a broken bridge and he opts to jump it. He fails and nearly plummets off the side. Spock comes to the rescue by solving a small puzzle. In fact, many of the puzzles / mini-games in the demo were handled by Spock, as for example, when he had to decypher a signal to open a gate.
Eventually, the two find themselves pinned down by the Gorn, and Kirk tries to have the two beamed out. Their signals are too cluttered, so Kirk calls for backup from Scottie on the Enterprise, who sends torpedoes down to wipe out their foes. Their battle continues as they jump aboard a Gorn ship, and eventually the vessel explodes, crashing into the ground.
The chemistry between Spock and Kirk was palpable, and the dialogue was hilarious, as they verbally jabbed back and forth. Their relationship is at the core of the gameplay, and for the demo I saw, it worked masterfully. The 3D was beautifully rendered, and it was the closest I'd ever experienced to feeling like I was actually on the Enterprise. I'm curious to see where the developers take this conflict with the Gorn. Get ready to beam aboard the arena with the Enterprise crew sometime in the first quarter of 2013. That's when Star Trek should arrive for PC, PS3, and Xbox 360.
He has been working in film and games for over a decade. On his off time, he likes to travel the world. His short story collection, Watering Heaven, was just published by Signal 8 Press.
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