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Arts and Entertainment

Star Trek: a bug-filled mess



Before GEOFFREY TIM started playing the most recent Star Trek video game based on the J.J. Abrams remake of the movie, he did not have high expectations. They were exceeded though, as the game turned out to be even worse than he anticipated.

I have to be honest. I’m a little bit ambivalent when it comes to Star Trek. I’ve enjoyed Gene Rodenberry’s past tales of intergalactic diplomacy, and I even quite liked J.J Abrams’ reboot, but I’m hardly what you’d consider a ‚”Trekkie‚”. I’m not big on licenced games that try cash in on people’s established love either, so I was expecting this new game based on Abrams’ rebooted Star Trek continuity to not be very good. It has exceeded my expectations‚Ķby being far worse than I had ever anticipated.

It starts off well enough. The Starship Enterprise and its crew find itself embroiled in a crisis of galactic proportions when the evil, warmongering reptilian race, the Gorn, steal a ridiculously powerful device that the Vulcans had hoped might find them a new home. The Helios device would enable this race of malfeasant, toothy, space-dinosaurs-with-guns to open up rifts to other worlds, allowing them to ravage and plunder the universe.

They pose a dual threat too, by employing a dastardly technology that allows them to infect humans with some sort of affliction that leaves them as soulless husks under Gorn control. Yep, Space zombies. Naturally its up to our heroes, the rash and reckless Kirk and his more logically-minded foil, the pointy-eared Spock to save everything. Both are voiced by their film counterparts, Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto respectively, who do their best to add a touch of class to the game. They’re both pretty well rendered too, looking very much like their real-life actors‚Ķ.provided they’re standing still and not moving their mouths. Their interplay and banter stands a highlight in a game that’s 10 hours of insipid, depressing lows.

It could have been good. The Star Trek Universe is ripe for the picking to make a game that’s not unlike Mass Effect: a personable leader, a crew of interesting characters and one of the most famous spaceships in the history of media, it could have been a game that followed the Star Trek ethos of diplomacy with combat as a last resort. Instead, what could have been a poor man’s Mass Effect is instead a bland and tiresome 3rd-person cover-shooter, with bits of Uncharted-styled platforming thrown in to break the tedium.

There’s also a bit of environmental scanning done by using the Tricorder, which functions much like Arkham’s ‚”detective mode‚”, showing wires leading to terminals that must be hacked through an assortment of terribly dull and repetitive minigames. Joining that is a bare-bones XP and upgrade system, where scanning objects grants XP that can be used on a number of pointless upgrades to combat, weaponry and mindless fiddling.

There’s a further attempt to deviate from the standard run-and-gun gameplay by throwing in other terribly unfun elements, like a level where you’re forced to swim to your objective. Water-based levels are seldom a good idea, but they’re worse when the engine they’re running on just isn’t built for it. More than a few times you’ll find yourself hurtling through space, avoiding debris, and it’ll remind you of those gravity-void section in Dead space only it’s worse. Basically, everything you’ll do in Star Trek you’ve done before, only in better games.

Honestly, it really shouldn’t have been released at all. I encountered a myriad of bugs playing through Star Trek, the first of which manifested itself within 10 minutes of booting the game up. Here’s a brief list of some of the bugs I encountered.

That’s just a small sample, not including more regular glitches like clipping issues, and the headaches caused by the game’s infernally rubbish AI. Enemies will regularly run past you (when they’re not busy falling through floor), or just run in to a wall, stuck in a perpetual moonwalk until you put them out of their reptilian misery with a well-placed phaser shot.

Ally AI is, somehow, even worse. The game tries to force you, on occasion, to employ stealthy tactics instead of running in and shooting everything but it’s a feat made nearly impossible by the ally AI which will, without fail, run headfirst into an enemy turret or group of enemies, die, and then writhe in agony on the floor expecting you to revive its sorry self. You’d imagine that playing the game in co-op might alleviate the AI woes, but you’d be very wrong. The game is just far too dull and broken to make playing it with a friend any fun with most of the co-operative gameplay of that sort that has both of you pressing buttons at the same time.

It’s ugly too. Built using Digital Extreme’s ironically named Evolution engine, the interior of the Enterprise looks good enough: but everything else is a little backwards, with awful textures, and jarring sub-par animation. And while Kirk and Spock may look the part, other crew members like Sulu, Bones and Scotty look like they’re sporting extra chromosomes.

There’s just nothing redeeming about Star Trek. It’s a bug-filled mess, but beyond the glitches the game that lies underneath is just awful. It’s an insult not only to gamers, but to Star Trek Fans. Star Trek deserves a better game. And so do you. This is one game you should Chekov your list.

* Article courtesy of Follow Geoffrey Tim on Twitter on @WobblyOnion

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Arts and Entertainment

Timberlake to headline iTunes London festival



Apple has announced that Justin Timberlake, Thirty Seconds to Mars, Jack Johnson and Jessie J are among the headliners at this year’s iTunes Festival in London.

Running every night in September at the Roundhouse, the iTunes Festival features more than 60 acts performing at the legendary venue.

Performances can be watched live or on-demand by millions of iOS users around the world on their iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, as well as by music fans with iTunes on their computer or in stunning HD with Apple TV. Tickets are free for competition winners only.

Music fans from across the world, including the US, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Europe, Japan and Mexico can win tickets to the iTunes Festival through competitions run by local media partners. In the UK, fans can win tickets using the iTunes Festival app and the iTunes Store as well as select media partners including Channel 4, Global Radio and Metro.

Sir Paul McCartney, Amy Winehouse and Crowded House played the first iTunes Festival at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts in 2007. Since then over 370 artists have performed in front of more than 370,000 fans and tens of millions more online and on television. Other performers have included Adele, Coldplay, Foo Fighters, Alicia Keys, Paul Simon, Jack White and Oasis. Performances are available for purchase and download on the iTunes Store.

Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices with iPad.

* Follow Gadget on Twitter on @GadgetZA

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Arts and Entertainment

New PS games ready for download



Sony has announced its June line-up for PlayStation Plus subscribers, including Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, and two new catalogue releases, Demon’s Souls and ICO and Shadow of the Colossus HD Collection.

Immerse yourself in the ancient world of Amalur and its 10,000 years of magical history in the action-packed tale Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, created by acclaimed New York Times bestselling author R.A. Salvatore. Take destiny into your own hands as you combat your way through this vast and vibrant world as envisioned by the visionary creator of Spawn and much-admired artist, Todd McFarlane.

In Demon’s Souls you are summoned by a mysterious maiden as the last hope for humanity to take on a mighty demon horde that has taken over the kingdom of Boletaria, after a terrible curse was mistakenly unleashed by King Allant the XII whilst in search of greater powers. Prepare for a battle that has so far defeated all other realm champions as you set out on this epic journey to save the Kingdom from a fate worse than death.

ICO and Shadow of the Colossus HD Collection brings two exciting worlds to PS Plus ready for fans to explore. Adopt the role of ICO, a young boy who finds himself imprisoned by the people of his village inside the walls of a menacing castle before joining forces with a young girl named Yorda as she attempts to escape in ICO. Take on the role of a young man named Wander in Shadow of the Colossus as you journey through an enchanted land, battling 16 enormous beasts known as the Colossi in order to restore the life of a girl named Mono, whose soul is trapped in this haunting world.

For gamer’s on-the-go, grab your PlayStation Vita (PS Vita) and transport yourself to lush forests in the cartoon-quality action title Rayman Origins. Alternatively, weave through airborne mazes as you avoid falling coconuts in Coconut Dodge HD, both available on PS Plus from 5th June.

PS Plus provides subscribers with access to top-rated games on PS3 and PS Vita, extending the service to two platforms for a single price for a one-year subscription. Additionally, 90 day subscriptions are also available giving user’s access to the same fantastic titles and great PlayStation Store discounts.

PS Plus subscribers receive an array of exclusive features, including 2GB cloud storage (1G for PS3 & 1G for PS Vita) for game saves. Automatic updates and beta access, as well as a huge collection of exclusive dynamic themes and PlayStation Network avatars, makes PS Plus the place to be in 2013.


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