Developer: Electronic Arts Inc.
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Graphics / Sound [rating:4/5]
Game Controls [rating:4/5]
iPhone Integration [rating:3.5/5]
Re-use / Replay Value [rating:2.5/5]
The original Star Trek (for those of you who have been living on Venus for the past 40+ years) is one of TV's best loved franchises. Its recent film reinvention by J.J. Abrams (better known as the creator of Lost) has given EA an excellent excuse to release this new mobile game tie-in.
Star Trek is a top down shoot 'em up in the style of Galaga or R-Type, and is full of bright, spangly graphics, executed with the usual flair and slickness customary to EA titles.
You command the iconic ship the USS Enterprise, and are attacked by wave after wave of ever deadlier enemies. In campaign mode there are a total of 12 missions, consisting of 4 sectors against 3 well known adversaries of the Federation: Klingons, Cardassians, and Romulans.
You get to play with many of the Star Trek universe's weapons and gadgets. Phasers and photon torpedoes are your main weapons of choice, although occasionally you can pick up other useful weaponry (EMP, Phase Cannon, Disruptor), which will help you complete the more difficult missions.
As enemy ships are destroyed you can manoeuvre the Enterprise to pick up dropped goodies, such as shield replenishment and temporary weapon upgrades. You will definitely want to grab those shield enhancements because your shields can soon become depleted, and cause the Enterprise to be destroyed. All is not lost, though - you can restart the mission close to where you left off.
As the Enterprise warps onward through the missions, you are rewarded with stars which you use to upgrade the ship. Choose carefully when upgrading, between either Torpedoes, Phasers, Tractor Beams or Shields.
A nice addition to the game are the Achievements you can complete. These range from Honorable Survivor, where you need to complete the Klingon missions in order, without failing, to Starfleet Admiral where you need to achieve a 100x chain kill in any mission. These Achievements add to the game's limited replay value.
Star Trek is full of eye candy. Even on the relatively small iPhone screen the Enterprise looks cool. The spot effects combine nicely with audio, and, at times, the play area can be filled with enemy ships, phaser blasts, torpedoes, tractor beams, mines, upgrade icons, and shield enhancers. The action gets very frantic, which adds to the game's immediacy and fun factor.
With this game you get to choose between three control systems. You can tilt the iPhone to control the Enterprise; use a finger to take direct control of the ship or; use an on screen joystick. I tried all three and found the first two control methods to be excellent, but the joystick method was too imprecise and fiddly, and I wouldn't recommend its use unless you want to make the game harder!
You can turn on auto fire too, or, if you think that's too simple, you can tap the screen to fire your weapons manually.
All in all, I did get a great sense of occasion from this game - it definitely did its job in making me want to go out and see the new movie! I felt immersed within the Star Trek universe, but I think more could have been done to enhance this feeling. Instead of just the pictures of Spock, Uhura or Chekov popping up with some cursory text, how about a cut scene, or some footage from the new film? This would have added to the immersion factor and rewarded your purchase with a teaser for the film.
Despite the polish EA have administered to Star Trek, the game is somewhat shallow. It was a blast to begin with, but it did get a little repetitive by the end of the twelfth mission. I enjoyed it while it lasted, but Star Trek's replay value is limited.
If you are a Trekkie completist, it's a game you'll want on your iPhone. If you aren't a Star Trek fan you will still enjoy this game, but the atmosphere and the sense of being a part of the Star Trek universe may be lost on you.
That said, I would recommend this game as a fun, frantic, short and sweet journey through the Star Trek universe. Just don't expect the game to boldly go any further than that.