It’s the kind of paradox that Mr. Spock finds fascinating — and the type of unmet challenge that Capt. James T. Kirk can’t resist: No franchise has a longer history with video game fans than Star Trek, but to today’s Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 audiences it’s a brand that might as well be lost in space.
That may change with the April 23 release of Star Trek: The Video Game (available for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 as well as a Microsoft Windows PC version), which seeks a new commercial frontier for a brand that is heavy on heritage but light on contemporary credibility. The project also represents a traditional Hollywood power boldly going where it has never gone before: Star Trek: The Video Game represents the first major console game ever financed and released by Paramount Pictures, a historic studio that had licensed properties out in the burgeoning marketplace.
“For us it represents a huge investment in Star Trek,” says Brian Miller, Paramount’s senior vice president of brand marketing and the executive producer of the game. “We’re all gamers and we wanted to make sure the game was a triple-A game, something Star Trek deserves and frankly may not have gotten for the last several decades.”
During a limited test session on the Paramount lot, the game (which was developed by Digital Extremes of Unreal and Bioshock fame) was dynamic and engaging and as aesthetically satisfying as the 2009 film that provides its foundation. That film, directed by J.J. Abrams, presented (for the first time on screen) a new ensemble in the classic roles introduced by the 1966-69 television series. That new crew — led by Chris Pine (Kirk), Zachary Quinto (Spock), Zoe Saldana (Lt. Nyota Uhura), Karl Urban (Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy), John Cho (Lt. Hikaru Sulu), Anton Yelchin (Ensign Pavel Chekov), and Simon Pegg (Chief Engineer Montgomery “Scotty” Scott) – all lend their voices to the game.
This crew ensemble is the first Trek crew to grow up in the full-swing video game era and they were engaged in a big way by the possibilities of the project. Some, such as the irrepressible Pegg, were eager to come to recording sessions with improv and extra energy. It had been watching Abrams and the cast at work on the 2009 film, in fact, that inspired Paramount to set a new course into the video game universe.
NEXT: A game as Trek canon?