For us hardcore Trekkers, it's been awhile since we've been able to sink our teeth into a really meaty, story-driven Star Trek game. But no worries. The makers of Star Trek: The Game, available now for PS3, Xbox 360, and for PC, have heard your frantic cries for more immersive 23rd-century gaming and delivered. "We’re gamers here and we’ve played every Star Trek game that’s come out," says Brian Miller, the Senior Vice President at Paramount who oversees the whole Star Trek franchise.
The game designers recognized they had a void to fill despite the fact that there’s an amazing legacy of Trek gaming that includes such fantastic title as 2000's Klingon Academy and DS9: The Fallen and 2002's Bridge Commander. "Some of our team here at Paramount had worked on previous games such as Bridge Commander and Klingon Academy," Miller says. So the development team was very concerned about not repeating themselves and giving players a wholly new gameplay experience — and one that ties into this summer’s most anticipated blockbuster, Star Trek Into Darkness.
How does the latest Federation-endorsed game stand apart from the crowd? Here are 8 things about Star Trek: The Game that you've never been able to experience before... or at least haven't experienced in a really long time:
1. You Get to Play as Kirk and Spock! — Believe it or not, this is something you haven't been able to do in a Star Trek videogame since 1992's Star Trek: 25th Anniversary and 1993's Star Trek: Judgment Rites. "Those were point and click games where you would play as various characters," Miller says. "What we wanted to do with our game was give the player the opportunity to finally become Kirk and Spock. And, to this point, that really hasn't been possible yet."
2. It was Developed in Conjunction with the Movie Production — Star Trek: Hidden Evil was a semi-sequel to Star Trek: Insurrection and Starfleet Command III allowed you to pilot the ship commanded by Tom Hardy's villain Praetor Shinzon in Star Trek: Nemesis, but beyond that there hasn't been much integration between the games and the movies. It actually calls into question the canonicity of some of the previous console and PC titles. However, Miller says that's not the case with Star Trek: The Game: "We worked with the filmmakers to make sure that the story was canon and fit in with what's been created in the two films. We also had to make sure that the resolution of the game's plot would in no way interfere with Into Darkness, but those who pay close attention will notice a few callbacks and nods between our game and the new film."
3. It Has an Original Musical Score — Composer Michael Giacchino and his team collaborated on the music for Star Trek: The Game just like they did on Into Darkness, as if they were composing and arranging for a movie.
4. The Entire Movie Cast Lends Their Voices — Now, mind you, 2006's Star Trek: Legacy featured the voices of all the captains (William Shatner, Patrick Stewart, Avery Brooks, Kate Mulgrew, and Scott Bakula), but no previous gaming project has reunited the entire cast of one film. "One thing that surprised us when we were developing the game, was the high level of enthusiasm of our actors," Miller says. "When we began approaching them about their participation they instantly wanted to be involved, but with one condition… they’d do it only if the whole cast was involved. The actual process of recording the actors was done on an individual basis over the span of several months. Since the crew of the Enterprise resides all over the world we had to do quite a bit of traveling in order to record everything we needed. Chris Pine was recorded in San Francisco, London and New York. Karl Urban was recorded in New Zealand and Simon Pegg did his sessions in his hometown of London."
5. You'll Get to Explore New Parts of the Enterprise — Unlike in the 2009 film you'll be able to explore crew quarters and the ship's mess. "We made sure all the in-game assets were 100% accurate," Miller says. "That includes the Enterprise model [used in the films] as well as all of the ship locations."
6. Scotty Gets Snarky — The Enterprise's chief engineer logged "research data entries" for many, many items on the ship. "For every item that you scan with your tricorder, you'll be treated to a somewhat accurate description of the item, as written by Scotty." There are also audio logs found throughout the game that diehard Trekkers will particularly appreciate. "Look for communicators hidden in the level and scan them with your tricorder to hear messages from the crew and new characters."
7. The Gorn Appears in the Flesh! — Or pixelated flesh, at least. Previous games like Starfleet Command and Klingon Academy have featured the Gorn, those hissing, reptilian baddies first seen in the classic Original Series episode "Arena," but only their ships. That scaly skin is hard to render! But they are the primary antagonists of Star Trek: The Game after they attack the New Vulcan colony, and you can get up close and personal with the cold-blooded foes themselves. "We really focused on expanding the Gorn speices – there are 15 different types of Gorn in the game, everything from Rushers, to Commanders, to females – all of which have never been seen before." In fact, the Gorn have proven such a challenge to Star Trek storytellers that they've only appeared in one episode other than their introduction in "Arena," the "In a Mirror Darkly" alternate-universe two-parter from Star Trek: Enterprise. There, the Gorn got a major CGI facelift, and that design was a definite influence on the game.
8. You'll Find Out What Happens When Spock Takes the Captain's Chair — We don't want to spoil exactly what happens, but Miller will tease this: "If you’re playing as Spock, take a seat in the Captain’s chair. See what Kirk has to say."
Follow Christian Blauvelt on Twitter @Ctblauvelt
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Theatrics slapstick and cheer are cinematic qualities you rarely find outside the realm of animation. Disney perfected it with their pantheon of cartoon classics mixing music humor spectacle and light-hearted drama that swept up children while still capturing the imaginations and hearts of their parents. But these days even reinterpretations of fairy tales get the gritty make-over leaving little room for silliness and unfiltered glee. Emerging through that dark cloud is Mirror Mirror a film that achieves every bit of imagination crafted by its two-dimensional predecessors and then some. Under the eye of master visualist Tarsem Singh (The Fall Immortals) Mirror Mirror's heightened realism imbues it with the power to pull off anything — and the movie never skimps on the anything.
Like its animated counterparts Mirror Mirror stays faithful to its source material but twists it just enough to feel unique. When Snow White (Lily Collins) was a little girl her father the King ventured into a nearby dark forest to do battle with an evil creature and was never seen or heard from again. The kingdom was inherited by The Queen (Julia Roberts) Snow's evil stepmother and the fair-skinned beauty lived locked up in the castle until her 18th birthday. Grown up and tired of her wicked parental substitute White sneaks out of the castle to the village for the first time. There she witnesses the economic horrors The Queen has imposed upon the people of her land all to fuel her expensive beautification. Along the way Snow also meets Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer) who is suffering from his own money troubles — mainly being robbed by a band of stilt-wearing dwarves. When the Queen catches wind of the secret excursion she casts Snow out of the castle to be murdered by her assistant Brighton (Nathan Lane).
Fairy tales take flack for rejecting the idea of women being capable but even with its flighty presentation and dedication to the old school Disney method Mirror Mirror empowers its Snow White in a genuine way thanks to Collins' snappy charming performance. After being set free by Brighton Snow crosses paths with the thieving dwarves and quickly takes a role on their pilfering team (which she helps turn in to a Robin Hooding business). Tarsem wisely mines a spectrum of personalities out of the seven dwarves instead of simply playing them for one note comedy. Sure there's plenty of slapstick and pun humor (purposefully and wonderfully corny) but each member of the septet stands out as a warm compassionate companion to Snow even in the fantasy world.
Mirror Mirror is richly designed and executed in true Tarsem-fashion with breathtaking costumes (everything from ball gowns to the dwarf expando-stilts to ridiculous pirate ship hats with working canons) whimsical sets and a pitch-perfect score by Disney-mainstay Alan Menken. The world is a storybook and even its monsters look like illustrations rather than photo-real creations. But what makes it all click is the actors. Collins holds her own against the legendary Julia Roberts who relishes in the fun she's having playing someone despicable. She delivers every word with playful bite and her rapport with Lane is off-the-wall fun. Armie Hammer riffs on his own Prince Charming physique as Alcott. The only real misgiving of the film is the undercooked relationship between him and Snow. We know they'll get together but the journey's half the fun and Mirror Mirror serves that portion undercooked.
Children will swoon for Mirror Mirror but there's plenty here for adults — dialogue peppered with sharp wisecracks and a visual style ripped from an elegant tapestry. The movie wears its heart on its sleeve and rarely do we get a picture where both the heart and the sleeve feel truly magical.