Star Trek D-A-C (Xbox 360) review
"A lot of downloadable Xbox Live Arcade titles live off of simplicity and a good solid gimmick. Star Trek: D-A-C, however, is too simplistic and its gimmick is to bait in unknowing consumers with the Trek license; and thatís quite possibly its largest offense."
Have you ever wanted to pilot the U.S.S. Enterprise? I know I have. The thought of flying through the stars, exploring new galaxies and civilizations Ė engaging in romantic relations with green-skinned alien babes Ė it all seems so fantastical and perfect. At one point in their life, every big Star Trek fan has had that dream where they were in command of their own starship. Either that, or itís the ghastly nightmare where Captain Kirk asks you to head down onto a hostile planet with the away team and youíre the only poor bastard wearing a red shirt. If Naked Sky Entertainment and Paramount Digital Entertainment have their way, that dream of yours will finally be fulfilled on the Xbox Live Marketplace. Well, at least the one about commanding your own starship.
To cash in on the release of the new movie directed by J.J. Abrams, some form of video game adaptation was bound to surface. That video game is Star Trek: D-A-C. Although the film itself has a very complex narrative and only a few actual space battles, this Xbox Live Arcade game is a top-down multiplayer space shooter that consists of all shooting, all the time. The D-A-C in the title literally stands for Deatmatch, Assault and Conquest; the three match types available for you and up to eleven other players over Xbox Live. While Star Trek: D-A-C is sure to offer up a few hours worth of entertainment for fans and non-fans alike, itís hardly a game that will keep you, or anyone else, interested for very long.
Thereís really not a lot to Star Trek: D-A-C, and thatís probably its biggest detriment. Choosing a faction, whether it be the Federation or the Romulans, doesnít make a difference, aside from visual appearance. Each outfit can select from three different ship classes that all control fairly similar to one another. They have varied strengths and weaknesses, but for the most part theyíre quite generic. The Interceptor and the Flagship are the two offensive ships, one being really fast and the other really slow, and the Bomber is a defensive class that drops bombs behind it (fancy that!), rather than shooting targets in front of it. Some people may find that a specific class fits their play style more than the other, but itís not like you need to put forth a lot of thought when considering which one to choose out of the three.
Apart from varying speeds, they all handle the same exact way Ė poorly. After a while, maneuvering through any of the gameís maps will become slightly easier, as you grow accustomed to the controls. But the handling is very loose, and, on some occasions, when a bunch of players gather into one area with a group of their allies, it starts to resemble outer-space bumper cars.
Your actions arenít limited to just flying around the map and shooting at each other like angry Klingons, however. White and yellow power-ups litter the screen and they can be collected and used by anyone. If you grab enough of the white power-ups, it will increase the power of your primary weaponry. The yellow power-ups, on the other hand, offer special perks that are activated with the right bumper, which expire after each use. These perks run the gamut from cloaking to photon torpedoes, and even temporary invulnerability. Sadly, some perks are more useful than others and this eventually leads towards power-up whoring Ė especially the temporary invulnerability. Some players will move from power-up to power-up until they get the desired perk, and dispose of the rest.
Innovation is clearly not this gameís strength. D-A-C doesnít really bring anything new to the genre that hasnít been done before, and done better. The only feature that promises a glimmer of originality is the ability to pilot an escape pod once your main ship is destroyed. If you can manage to stay out of harmís way for a few seconds after your escape pod launches, youíll respawn immediately, rather than face a time penalty, and come back with most of your power-ups intact.
Outside of online play, there is a solo mode, but it just consists of playing against an AI-controlled team in one of the three game modes. For an already bare bones experience, it would have been nice if there could have at least been a story mode of some sort, even if it was just some short text linking together a few missions. To make matters worse, there are only seven maps available in the game and you canít even use all of them with each game type. Deathmatch allows four of the maps, Assault lets you choose from two and Conquest mode has only one playable map.
A lot of downloadable Xbox Live Arcade titles live off of simplicity and a good solid gimmick. Star Trek: D-A-C, however, is too simplistic and its gimmick is to bait in unknowing consumers with the Trek license; and thatís quite possibly its largest offense. The only way this game is at all loosely tied to the Star Trek license is by the gameís barely passable visual representation of the different starships, and the use of the new filmís main orchestral theme at the title screen. At a heavy-handed cost of 800 Microsoft points (or $10), this XBL Arcade game fails to deliver anything even remotely resembling a worthwhile experience. Trekkies of the world - set phasers to PASS!
Freelance review by Jeremy Wood (May 20, 2009)
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