Star Trek

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I am a die-hard unapologetic lover of all things Star Trek related.  The source material however has never led to great achievements in the realm of gaming where the Star Wars franchise seems to perpetually excel.  The last Trek game on current gen hardware was Star Trek: Legacy, an extremely glitchy and muddled mess; the only redeeming factor was including real voice acting from all 5 captains.  When I picked up the new game, I never imagined in a million light years that I would be desperately missing Legacy.

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Let’s start with Star Trek’s most blatant problem: it’s a shoddily executed cover based shooter.  The pacing of the episodes certainly lends itself better to any other genre of gaming, and this repetitive slog had me wishing I were playing the RTS space battles of Legacy (or anything else) again.  I never thought I’d see Kirk and Spock trudging through generic levels like a poor man’s Marcus and Dom, much less interspersed with arduous platforming sections that make Damnation look like Tomb Raider in comparison.  The jumping mechanic is so poorly realized that I often got lost on the lengthy journey by not attempting leaps that seemed impossible to make at first glance.

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The main characters are also completely interchangeable.  Besides Kirk brandishing a “Captain’s Phaser” and Spock wielding a “Vulcan Repeater” there is absolutely no difference between the playable trekkers sans aesthetics.  If you are going to give us a choice of two characters at least make them perform a little differently, especially since the relationship between Kirk and Spock is one of the driving plotlines of all of the films and the original series.

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Star Trek was always about helping your fellow man (or alien); the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one, ect.  Apparently, the many all need to be repeatedly shot point blank in the face because other then a few random tricorder readings that’s basically all you accomplish.  Sure, you are encouraged to set phasers to stun and then knock out your enemies, but when you can just dispatch them safely from behind cover with zero penalty then what is exactly the point besides painfully shoehorning some of the familiar trappings of the series?

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Fortunately the current cast members perform all the voice acting, unfortunately this is actually a negative because the actors seem like they could care less about the actual acting.  To say that Zoe Saldana’s performance was laborious could be misconstrued as a complement.  Pine and Quinto are barely above average, and (big surprise) Simon Pegg is the only one who seems to even care about being there at all.  How often do you get an entire original cast to perform in a video game?  Like everything else on display the voice acting is truly a squandered and sloppy opportunity.

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The Gorn play the generic bad guys here, you’ll remember them as the lizard like creatures Kirk rolled a boulder onto at Vasquez Rocks, the same location featured in numerous other Hollywood productions like Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey and Paul.  If you can’t tell how bored I was with the game please refer to my previous sentence where I write about a famous rock formation instead of explaining in more detail how disappointing the experience actually was.

Unfortunately for fans it seems the Star Trek franchise is still waiting patiently to get the Batman: Arkham Asylum treatment.  I’m confident that a developer who truly understands Star Trek could make an excellent game that is both exciting to play and faithful to the canon.  Currently what we are left with is this stinking pile of half assed ideas that are executed with the grace of a wet fart in a windowless room.  I tried, but even my extreme fandom couldn’t find a way to reprogram the simulator to make the game bearable.  Kobiashi Maru indeed.

Vantage Point

Vantage Point - Movie Screenshot
Vantage Point (2008)

Director:Pete Travis Starring: Dennis Quaid, Matthew Fox, Forest Whitaker, Eduardo Noriega, Bruce McGill, Sigourney Weaver, Edgar Ramiez, Said Taghmaoui, Richard T. Jones, Zoe Saldana, William Hurt

Certificate: 12 Running Time:90 Minutes

Tagline: “8 Strangers. 8 Points of View. 1 Truth”

He gets a lot of stick but it’s a tough job being the US President. Everyone wants to shoot the guy for one thing, if good old Hollywood is to be believed at least! This particular President, Henry Ashton (Hurt) is in Salamanca, Spain, about to address a large crowd regarding the anti-terrorism treaty he’s about to sign. Soon after he begins, someone, from somewhere, shoots him. In the midst of the ensuing panic, there are two explosions. Before and during these events, we are casually introduced to several people in and around the crowd who may have an interesting perspective on the unfolding chaotic situation. Some may have something to hide, some others may be able to help catch those responsible. It’s up to Secret Service Agent, Thomas Barnes (Quaid), to work out which.

Vantage Point - Movie Screenshot

The events leading up to and immediately after the gunshot and explosions are then replayed through the eyes of each of these people. First is TV news producer, Rex (Weaver), who is in her production room watching various cameras filming the events, trying to make sure she has all angles covered. Then, events rewind and we see them through Barnes himself as well as his Secret Service colleague, Kent Taylor (Fox) as they are rocked by the explosions and bedlam breaks loose. Next we see events unfold through Spanish cop, Enrique (Noriega), American tourist, Howard (Whitaker), and several others including the perpetrators themselves, before the timeline finally continues and Agent Barnes races to uncover the terrorists deeper plot and untangle the mess before anyone else gets hurt whilst those involved race to prevent him!

Vantage Point - Movie Screenshot

It’s a concept that’s been done before, but perhaps not in such a high profile film. Whether it works well or not is debatable. Both I and apparently a test audience soon grew tired of the film rewinding to the start despite the fresh perspective offered by each character. However, the story is intriguing enough after to hold your attention and the initial frustrations soon die down as you enjoy the mounting tension as more and more information is revealed. The relatively inexperienced Travis directs the numerous action scenes well, including some fantastic chase scenes of both the foot and vehicular variety, and there is some nice camera work, particularly the multiple views of some parts of the rewinding sequence.

Vantage Point - Movie Screenshot

The cast assembled here is by and large a highly talented one but it is also pretty large. Some seasoned actors therefore don’t get the screentime their talent deserves, notably Signourney Weaver, but of the ensemble, Quaid probably gets the most. He remains as watchable as ever as Thomas Barnes, the nervous Secret Service agent on his first Presidential assignment since taking a bullet protecting the President six months earlier. Forest Whitaker too, is enjoyable to watch, but the role doesn’t really ask too much of him. I guess the same could be said of many other cast members, but as action-thrillers go, you could do a lot worse than this. Some people will probably hate the same few minutes being replayed over and over, instead impatiently wanting the story to continue, but when it does, you view the proceeding with fresh insight over all those concerned. It doesn’t set new standards for any of the sub-genres it covers, and it could’ve possibly been a bit longer, but as a standard terrorism/assassination/kidnap/chase thriller, it’s and interesting and exciting 90 minutes.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObslcA3FhwU

RKS Score: 7/10