Star Trek preview Team me up, Scotty

The 2009 reboot of the Star Trek franchise was an all-around success, pleasing fans of the classic series while bringing in a host of non-Trekkie fans. Developer Digital Extremes is hoping to capture the same kinetic excitement of that film with Star Trek, the upcoming third-person shooter that adds to the Abrams mythos instead of retelling the events of the movie. Our demo at E3 reinforced the fact that Captain Kirk and Commander Spock make quite the pair – but it also had some welcome surprises, like the glorious reveal of the Gorn race’s return.

The demo took place on two screens (3D ones, no less), one for each co-op players’ perspective. That’s because the events that happen onscreen are wildly different depending on your Kirk or Spock selection – though they may fight together through the same interstellar action, each officer takes a unique approach to combat and exploration. Kirk, as one might imagine, is brash and bold, while Spock plays the straight man with level-headed logic. These characteristics aren’t just personalities: they affect the way the game plays, and how you’ll tackle each incoming challenge.

Beaming down onto the planet Vulcan in response to a distress call, Kirk and Spock had a rather uneventful entry onto a rocky terrace. As you can tell from the screenshots, the characters are modeled closely from actors Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto; they also provide the voices for the game, and the chit-chat they exchange while surveying an area is a treat.

Each character also gets their own perspective during cutscenes; it sounds like a slight change, but it goes a long way towards making any given scenario feel like two distinct experiences. Similar to Dead Space 3, playing the co-op with a buddy (or a stranger, even) will make the whole experience feel that much more organic, as you exchange banter with your fellow crewmate. Spock has the scanning sections covered, while Kirk excels at leading the charge during shootouts.

After scanning the bodies of deceased Vulcans, Spock determined that they had mutated due to an unknown influence. Right on cue, more vitriolic Vulcans burst into the room, giving the devs a chance to show off the phaser-blasting combat. Star Trek looks to play like your average third-person cover shooter, but it’s got nice Trek-tastic touches, like Spock’s Vulcan nerve pinch to down unsuspecting enemies at close range. To discern more about how these Vulcans had turned, Spock performed a brief mind-meld with his death-gripped victim – made even cooler by the fact that the Spock player’s screen flashed with mental imagery and an electric stream of consciousness, while the Kirk player only saw Spock deep in thought.

The culprits of the Vulcan mutations? The evil Gorn – only this ain’t your daddy’s Gorn. Instead of the goofy-looking, clearly made-out-of-rubber lizardmen from the original TV series, these green beasts were legitimately frightening. If you forced an alien crocodile and a raptor to mate, you’d get something akin to this version of the Gorn; they’re just as happy to slice you up at close range as they are firing powerful, skin-charring cannons from a distance.

The Gorn battles showed off more thrilling teamwork between Kirk and Spock, with riveting (albeit scripted) segments that had one player shooting Gorn off the back of his pinned partner. Spock’s strategic know-how came into play when he scanned the Gorn for weaknesses, causing a red marker to flash on Kirk’s screen denoting where their attackers were most vulnerable. Without giving too much away, the chaotic fight scene ended with a bang that marked the end of the demo. Getting a taste of this cooperative combat had us itching to recruit a buddy to our bridge; we’ll have to wait until early 2013 to engage in this two-player Trek.

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