I kind of had a sinking feeling we would pay a heavy karmic price for the recent masterpiece, Bioshock: Infinite.
Unfortunately, the Gozerian Destructor has arrived in the form of Star Trek, a recently released third-person co-op shooter that nicks the gameplay of Gears of War, with a smidgen of Arkham Asylum's "detective vision" exploration, and a minor helping of Tomb Raider, because everyone in gaming is a fucking circus acrobat.
Now, you may not unreasonably conclude that merely looking at the box should tell me everything I need to know. Hell, even the smallest baby, fresh from it's meat prison knows that licensed titles are quite literally the stains of Satan's ejaculate. These games are typically rushed into production, and are snapped up by the weak-willed, hungry for an interactive hit of their favorite fictional crack.
There have been exceptions, of course. Transformers: War for Cybertron, and to a marginally lesser extent, Fall of Cybertron, both did great things with their license. The Arkham Asylum and Arkham City titles are among some of the best games ever released. (And of course, there's Cool Spot for the Sega Genesis. Shut up.)
Silly, naive me.
The forgettable story festering inside Star Trek is, regrettably, considered canon, intended to sit in between the events of the 2009 movie and the forthcoming 2013 sequel.
The basic plot centers around the now-homeless, decimated Vulcan race finding a new planet to settle that they've imaginatively dubbed "New Vulcan". A brilliant scientist harnesses the energy of a binary star to power the Helios, a dangerous, controversial device that would make terraforming of the Genesis planet, er, New Vulcan a hell of a lot easier.
Naturally, something goes wrong and Black Mesa suffers a resonance cascade which causes a revamped version of the Gorn to come through a rip in space. The freshly ripped Gorn want to steal the device that caused...the rip in space. And then there's the obligatory corrupt Federation brass who's behind all of this, etc, etc.
There's probably more twists after that, but it really doesn't matter! This is a game all about duckin' behind cover, shootin' dinosaurs and zombies, and hackin' shit along side your snarky, sarcastic Starfleet heterosexual life-mate!
For the shootin' bits, you're presented with a small arsenal of weaponry to be scavenged off the corpses of your enemies, but you'll rarely ever find yourself straying from the default hand-phaser. It's strong and accurate enough, and doesn't require ammo, instead relying on a standard cooling mechanism.
A skill upgrade system exists, using experience points earned through tricorder exploration. But, just like almost everything else in this game, it feels as if it was tacked on late in development, since it can be pretty much be ignored.
Additionally, there is minor ship combat, but don't get too excited: these are on-rails shooter segments where you sloppily spray phaser pellets and torpedoes at incoming garbage.
If Star Trek were merely the game as described, and did it well, it would be, at best your typical, mediocre cash-in. But what Digital Extremes has actually shipped is not just a game, but a potentially endless ad-revenue stream for anyone hosting a YouTube glitch compilation video.
This game is so riddled with bugs that I've found myself deriving more enjoyment from describing the various ways the game loses it's shit, than from the game proper. It almost makes up for the $49 retail price, but... let's not get too crazy.
Within minutes of starting a new game, my AI controlled Spock got himself fetched up on some map geometry on the bridge, causing him to run around in a circle. I'm assuming he was creating his own personal gravity field. Something this dumb, so early on... I knew I was in for a ride.
The remainder of my experience was a hellish nightmare gallery of glitches and poorly-tested design decisions. Doors suddenly snapping shut. Player animations often freezing, or getting stuck in loops. Jaws randomly not moving, or heads bopping around during cinematics. NPC's you can walk through like a ghost. Jarring, sudden lighting changes between turbolift rides. Amusingly, your AI partner occasionally slides around like a two-legged Roomba, or runs back and forth through doors for no reason.
Even worse, there are slightly less common, but still serious game-stopping bugs causing your partner to either vanish, lapse into a frozen coma, or suddenly just up and die without reason.
Normally I try to finish games before reviewing them, but Star Trek decided it didn't want me to finish it. I was literally glitched out of the game twice in a row before I finally hung up my phaser.