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Star Trek Goes Where Most Games Have Gone Before

As Paramount continues to build excitement for its upcoming film Star Trek: Into Darkness, developer Digital Extremes (Darkness II) has quietly been working on a game that will help bridge the new film with JJ Abram’s 2009 release.

During a hands-on demo at GDC, we sat in the captain’s chair and then put Kirk’s phaser to good use. The entire game can be played co-op as Kirk and Spock work together to fight the Gorn, a lizard-like race that fans might remember from the original series.

Whereas Kirk is a brash cowboy eager to jump into battle, Spock is a more logical and efficient strategist, and the two characters will have to work together if they are going to survive to see the second film hit theaters.

The game starts as the Enterprise responds to a distress signal from a Vulcan space station currently in low orbit around a star. Kirk and Spock beam aboard to rescue the Vulcan crew and then use their tricorders to find hidden secrets, hack open doors, and discover vocal recordings that help flesh out the story. The duo also have to support each other during battle. For example, later in the game players will get to control the Enterprise, and during this sequence one player will fly the ship while the other fires at enemy targets. In another sequence where Kirk’s leg is injured, Spock has to help carry him to the med bay while Kirk defends them with his phaser.

There are over 25 different weapons in the game and each one has two different modes of fire. While the phaser can be set to kill, its stun setting allows you to disable security robots and then hack them to work for you. A Starfleet riffle also doubles as a portable shield and a Gorn shotgun has a grenade attachment.

Spock and Kirk will fight over 16 different species of Gorn, from basic grunts to lieutenants with better armor, to Rusher Gorn who run at you on all fours. Digital Extremes spent a lot of time working with the film's costumer designers and effects artists, and rounded up the film’s actors to record dialog for the game, so even though the game is still a little rough around the edges, it feels like a real Star Trek experience.

We notices a few bugs while we were playing and the animations can be a little rough. The combat also feels a little generic, which is disconcerting for a game that comes out in about a month. Star Trek doesn’t look like it will light the gaming world on fire, but at the very least we’re excited to call down an airstrike on a planet using the Enterprise when the game releases on April 23.

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