Star Trek D-A-C Reviews for PlayStation 3
Just when it seemed the Star Trek franchise was dead, J.J. Abrams came along and revived it with a movie that could almost be described as anti-Star Trek. Great, yes, but certainly far removed from the thinking man's Trek of the past few decades. So maybe it makes sense that the videogame based off the film would also be very different from past Trek offerings. Star Trek D-A-C (that's Deathmatch, Assault, and Conquest) is a fast-paced top-down shooter. Top-down space combat games aren't new for Star Trek, but in the past they focused heavily on strategy. This latest is more popcorn fare -- fun, but lacking depth.
Star Trek D-A-C was released on Xbox Live Arcade way back in May around the same time the new movie was released. That version received a 6.1 from IGN: there was some light multiplayer fun to be had but the lack of any single-player experience really hurt it. Publisher Paramount and developer Naked Sky listened to feedback from critics and players and, thankfully, made some nice additions for the PlayStation Network and PC release. The biggest bonus is definitely the new Survival mode, which is an arcade challenge for one player with similarities to Geometry Wars. This, in addition to a few other tweaks, makes Star Trek D-A-C much easier to recommend, although it's still not a great game.
Click here to check out the new Survival mode.
Survival sends wave after wave of enemy ships at you and your sole goal is to last as long as you can with three lives. Like many arcade games, you can earn extra lives by reaching score milestones. Unlike other modes in Star Trek D-A-C, here you don't get an escape pod and you don't get to switch ships when you die. Since ships have different controls and weapons the Survival leaderboards will be divided by vessels. Like Geometry Wars there are score multipliers floating around in space you'll want to pick up. A couple new Romulan ships are seen exclusively in this mode: ramming drones and pirates.
There are three multiplayer skirmish modes offered (those in the title) and a choice of five ship classes. Originally players could pilot a fighter, bomber, or flagship, but here two new vessels have been added: the missile cruiser and the support frigate. The missile cruiser is a slow, medium-sized ship with a long range. It is the only vessel that can fire off screen. The support frigate is more of a defensive ship that can heal friendlies. These new crafts are available for both the Federation and the Romulans.
Each ship has its own stats for speed, durability and firepower, and each has its own main weapon. Don't stress about which to choose, because once you die (and you will die) you can select a different class of ship. Littered across the universe are weapon upgrades which increase the power of your ship's guns. Grabbing these is a major key to taking out your enemies. Also cluttering space is a variety of power-ups including a cloaking device, a short-range smart bomb and the homing torpedoes.
You play either as the Federation or the Romulans but aside from the look of their ships each plays nearly identically. In the first release both sides had the same power-ups, but now three new ones have been added -- two for the Romulans and one for the Federation. This helps, but it would still be nice to see more differences between the two sides, even if it were just in the statistics of the ships. The side you choose should have more meaning.
The gameplay is incredibly fast and it does take a few plays to get used to the nuances of each ship, but it doesn't really feel like Star Trek. No, not even like the hip new Star Trek. It's a lot like EA's recent Wing Commander Arena, but with a prettier look and a far more impressive franchise license.
One element that we do like a lot is the inclusion of escape pods. When your ship is about to explode, you can escape. If your pod (which you can guide) avoids being shot for five seconds you can respawn immediately (saving you four seconds) and maintain a good portion of your previously collected weapon upgrades. Battles are very hectic and it's advantageous for players to hunt down the fast-moving escape pods to keep their opponents from respawning with upgraded weapons. Often times this means you must abandon your guard of (or assault on) an outpost, so for a brief moment there's a slight element of strategy to Star Trek D-A-C.
A new map has been added for Assault mode.
These multiplayer modes are all classics and work well enough. Team Deathmatch offers six-on-six battles with the first to 50 kills getting the win. Assault has one team attempting to capture four points on the map, with the other team tasked with defense. New addition: now you must destroy a star base at the end of Assault. Pretty cool. Conquest also has control points, but the ultimate goal is to lower the defenses of the opponent's headquarters and capture it.
Another welcome change made to this release is the ability to tweak the length of matches, set AI difficulty, and choose a kill goal. Previously none of these options were customizable, which was disappointing for a game that is mostly about skirmishes. A new map has been added to Assault mode, which is also a nice bonus.
Star Trek D-A-C definitely benefits from the inclusion of the single-player Survival mode. The multiplayer modes were all that were available when the game was first released on XBLA earlier this year, and the package feels more robust now. Also, whereas we previously couldn't tweak game settings, we now can customize multiplayer matches. It's very cool that Paramount and Naked Sky listened to feedback from the first release and actually improved the game. Originally this was something you could have a few hours of fun with. Now, we reckon you can extend those fun times to a few days.