I’ve always enjoyed the Star Trek movies and TV series but wouldn’t consider myself a Trekkie. However, when I got the opportunity to head down to Blackpool’s Star Trek: The Exhibition to check out Star Trek: Bridge Crew I jumped at the chance.
Star Trek: The Exhibition celebrates last year’s 50th anniversary of the first broadcast of Star Trek. Visitors can check out all manner of original props, costumes and memorabilia. One of the most exciting parts of the exhibition is a replica of Captain Kirk’s bridge. If you’re a fan of Star Trek then it’s well worth checking the exhibition out.
For the first anniversary of the exhibition, Ubisoft UK and GAME Blackpool worked together to temporarily add the PlayStation VR version of Star Trek: Bridge Crew to their bridge set. If there’s a better way to experience the game I can’t think of it.
Star Trek: Bridge Crew can be played solo or via online multiplayer with up to three friends. The game puts you in the roles of officers of the Federation aboard the U.S.S. Aegis. Your mission is to explore an uncharted sector of space known as The Trench. Your aim is to find a new home world for the Vulcan population. Of course there are many dangers to get in your way and a strong Klingon presence too.
On PS4 the game is played with the PSVR headset and PlayStation Camera. You have the option of using the DualShock 4 but the best way to experience it is with the PlayStation Move controllers. The game also supports voice recognition allowing you to speak commands to make things happen. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to try this feature out.
Playing solo the game puts you in the role of the captain, sat in the main chair on the bridge. Looking around you can see your crew members and the three officers sat closest to you are the ones you need to worry about. These are helm, tactical and engineering and each play a crucial role in looking after your starship. Only by all four roles working together can you hope to succeed.
Watch the Star Trek: Bridge Crew VR launch trailer below:
When you look at one of the officers and press the correct button you get a command screen popup. This allows you to assign the basic orders needed from that officer and the AI will carry out your commands. So for example you can ask the helmsman to change your speed or the engineer to repair a particular system.
It’s also possible to jump from the captain into the officer that you are looking at. This then lets you work at their station with the full selection of their commands on offer. As you move your head you can look around the bridge and various control panels. The Move controllers accurately monitor your movements so you can see your arms and hands in game.
This creates a really immersive experience and you can reach out and press all the various control panel buttons just like you would if you were actually sat there. There’s a fairly steep learning curve to the game but thankfully there is a comprehensive tutorial to get you started.
The biggest challenge for a solo player is that you need to learn all four roles. Once you understand what each officer is capable of them you need to learn the order to do certain tasks. For example warping to a nearby system requires you to choose the system to warp to, get the helmsman to set you on the right course, get the engineer to ensure there is enough power to charge the coils then finally use the helmsman to activate warp before the charge runs out. It’s tough to begin with but gets easier with practice.
The main campaign of the game takes you through a series of missions which last around half an hour each. After you’re done with those there is an Ongoing Voyages option which throws randomly generated missions at you to overcome.
Much of the game involves space combat and it’s a rather thrilling experience. Initially you need to track and analyse the targets around you and trying to stay undetected is particularly tense. Once combat begins you can call a Red Alert but tapping a button on the captain’s chair. You then need to work together with your crew to manoeuvre your ship. You also have the option of hacking an enemy craft to disable their systems. When in range you can fire off lasers and torpedoes and you get a rush when taking out an enemy.
As the enemy attacks you need to find a power balance. Do you increase power to the engines to move faster? Maybe divert it into the shields for protection? Alternatively you can increase the power of your guns to do more damage. When your ship takes damage you need to get engineering onto repairing the damaged areas.
One mission I tried had me trying to rescue survivors from escape pods while avoiding asteroids. That sounds hard enough but I was also under fire from Klingon ships. To make things extra difficult the nearby star was also about to go supernova leaving me little time to make the right decisions. I took out the attacking Klingons but didn’t manage to rescue anyone. While trying to warp to safety the star exploded, destroying my ship. Although I failed miserably it was heaps of fun.
View some Star Trek: Bridge Crew screenshots in our gallery:
Playing the game in multiplayer is probably the best way to play. A nice touch is that the game will allow you to play with players on different platforms and hardware. If you can’t get a four player team the AI will fill in for you in the other roles. Working together is essential but also leads to much hilarity when things go wrong.
A final option for the Ongoing Voyages mode is to command the Bridge of the U.S.S. Enterprise. The Bridge is accurately recreated and brings an extra level of difficulty. Here there’s no hand holding and the huge panels of unlabelled buttons are rather intimidating. Fortunately you can hold a button to add an overlay to help you out. After a lot of practice the Enterprise Bridge is probably the best way to play.
Speaking of things going wrong, the game does occasionally suffer from a few problems. The most common is when you’ve been moving around too much and you need to hold the Start button to realign everything. If you move the controllers out of bounds the camera can also lose track of them. This can be annoying if it happens at an important moment. On one occasion I was ready to warp but my left arm disappeared. I tried to use my right arm to reach across my body and that one disappeared as well. Tracking issues can also make your arms appear to twist in the most impossible positions.
Star Trek: Bridge Crew is fantastic fun and a really absorbing experience. There’s room for improvement but it does accomplish what it sets out to achieve. Trekkie’s are definitely going to get the most out of it but it really can be enjoyed by anyone. It’s a great game to show off the power of VR as a social experience.
Star Trek: Bridge Crew was reviewed at Star Trek: The Exhibition Blackpool, during an event run by Ubisoft UK, with PSVR kit provided by GAME Blackpool.
Publisher: Ubisoft Developer: Red Storm Entertainment Release Date: May 30, 2017 Reviewed On: PS4 / PSVR Also Available On: PC/Steam / Oculus Rift / HTC Vive