It’s a well-known fact that most Star Trek games have failed to catch any sort of good critical reviews or have strong mainstream sales. The latest movie tie-in failed to gather either of those, plagued by bugs and a concept that wasn’t fully developed. It had the potential to be a great production that jump-started game developers to consider Star Trek once again, but instead that hope may have been vaporized.
Not all games in the franchise, however, have been terrible. Elite Force, Star Trek: Borg, Bridge Commander, Armada and the Starfleet Command entries stood on their own and were pretty good. Star Trek Online continues to be pretty popular, although I have yet to play it. Other games like Hidden Evil, Legacy, New Worlds and the latest game, Star Trek, fell flat on their faces.
Now that the franchise is somewhat cool, due to the great movies directed by J.J. Abrams, the one thing missing from the picture is a series of strong games that stand on their own. Here are a few suggestions:
1. A “Civilization” game
How many races are there in the Star Trek universe? Hundreds is the easy answer. But we never really get a chance to explore their culture or history or interact with them in a diplomatic setting. “Birth of the Federation” was riddled with bugs, although serves as a good foundation from which to build. Let’s have a game where the Federation and the different major races are able to start from the ground-up, make or break diplomatic ties, engage in battle with each other, or work together to reach a common goal.
The long-standing “Civilization” series is a great template for Star Trek, and could be a great mainstream success if promoted to the right crowd.
2. Starship SimCity
Create the Enterprise in your own configuration and manage different rooms and operations throughout the ship. Just think of it, there are so many different rooms throughout each ship that were never explored in the Trek movies and TV shows. Sure, there were the hallmarks: the bridge, engineering, some crew quarters, the mess hall, the transporter room and shuttle bay. But we never really saw the guts of the ship, let alone had the chance to create one on our own or choose the ship’s leadership.
Back in the ’90s, the game Starship Creator came close, letting gamers customize the look and crew of a starship. It was a good start, but let’s have the starship operate like a city. Instead of roads, there are turbolifts. Instead of homes, there are crew quarters with varying densities, with the potential to refit a starship to have bigger population sizes. There could even be financial disasters using Federation credits. And, of course, it wouldn’t be like SimCity if there weren’t disasters along the way. Warp core breach anyone?
3. A choose your own destiny game
Mass Effect has been heralded as one of the best game series in recent years, and is what many believe Star Trek games should have been. As an officer, you’re able to settle events either through diplomacy or through the barrel of a weapon. For ages, Trek fans have clamored for a game where diplomacy is a viable option, residing in line with the original Star Trek message: the improvement of humanity in the future.
The new “Star Trek” game was marketed in a way to compare it to Mass Effect, but there wasn’t any chance of developing characters on your own. Kirk couldn’t weigh the balance between good and evil, Spock didn’t have a choice to follow logic or go by his emotions. Those two fatal story flaws ruined the game for most people.
4. Star Trek: Section 31
This is practically begging to be made. A first-person shooter using the storyline of Section 31 – a shadow organization in Starfleet that officially doesn’t exist. Little is known about it, but a game series could easily expand on that small background. A first-person shooter game about an officer working for a shadow organization, taking down bad guys across the universe. How is that not a winner? All you need is a decent storyline taking place in a Star Trek setting and this type of game will sell on a massive scale.
5. Trapped in the Holodeck
Just consider it. If you can’t make a Star Trek-themed game, make something else fit inside the Star Trek universe. Star Trek: The Next Generation had the holodeck villain of Moriarty take control of the ship, trying to become a real person. Consider a game like “Assassin’s Creed” with a few Starfleet officers, or even turn it into an educational game for kids, taking them to different eras of history to learn various lessons.
There is so much potential for Star Trek to have a string of great games, and the market is there. We aren’t seeking after games like “Star Trek: Trexels”, although there are elements of the game I like, particularly the ability to build your own ship.
It’s time for a good, high-quality Star Trek game, and the market is eager to see it happen.
Given these suggestions, what type of Trek game would you like to see come to life?