The new movie is scheduled to release in theaters next month, and even though many Trekkies consider it an abomination of sorts – “that’s nothing like the show!” – it should appeal to a new generation that didn’t grow up with Captain Kirk. It may be a decent movie but rather than attempt to create a full-budget, full-price video game adaptation, developer Naked Sky has decided to produce a downloadable title to go along with the film. It’s a top-down, 2D shooter entitled, Star Trek: D-A-C , and it holds a primary emphasis on multiplayer gameplay. You’re probably wondering what “D-A-C” stands for but for some reason, publisher Paramount doesn’t want to reveal the secret just yet. However, IGN believes it simply stands for Deathmatch, Assault and Conquest, which are the three modes for the game. If you want an immediate and somewhat accurate comparison, you may want to think of Battlestar Galactica , which came out a few years ago, but if you desire a deeper outline and explanation, keep reading.
This downloadable title will support up to 12 players; as many as 6 players per team can enter into battle, but if you don’t have enough human players, the game will automatically provide you with AI-controlled ships. And of course, we’d like to provide you with a storyline or a basic plot premise, but as you may have already guessed by the format, there really won’t be much in the way of a story. All we can tell you is that the Federation will face off against the Romulans, which is probably the only aspect of Star Trek: D-A-C that gels with the upcoming movie. The rest of our information is all gameplay-oriented, which shouldn’t be disappointing: in addition to the 12 players, you can compete competitively, work together in a few co-op modes, and sample the 5 different maps. Basically, we’re viewing this as a pick-up-and-play experience, as just about any good downloadable game should be. The last thing you should expect is any similarity whatsoever to past Star Trek video games that featured a whole lot of strategy and tactical action.
You get three classes of ships to toy around with: the fighter, which is quick and light but doesn’t carry the heaviest firepower; the bomber, which has a large amount of power but lacks in maneuverability, and the flagship, which is the slowest ship available, but its Photon Cannon is devastating. As for the modes, Conquest is similar to Zones in Wahawk , where you score points based on how long you control bases around the map. Assault covers two separate play rounds as each team takes turns in their individual quests to attack and defend a star base. Deathmatch is exactly what it sounds like and it’s pretty much the same with Team Deathmatch, although you won’t be able to alter the kill goal or time limit; the first team to 50 kills wins and there’s a 10-minute time limit, and while we’re fine with this, we’re not really sure why we can’t change those numbers. It’s hardly a deal-breaker but by now, online multiplayer aficionados are used to having more control. You do have to take into account that this is a small downloadable game, though; one has to alter his or her expectations accordingly.
As you play, you will nab power-ups that will give you the edge in battle. The white orbs are all over the place and free for everyone to snag, and these will upgrade your guns (to a maximum of five levels) and give you some energy. You won’t only lose energy by getting nailed from enemy fire; you’ll also lose it simply by firing and boosting. Most of this sounds relatively straightforward, but there’s one interesting aspect to the gameplay that pops out at us: if you’re really getting lit up by an opponent and you know you won’t survive, you can elect to eject via escape pod. You then need to survive for only five more seconds and if you can, you’ll respawn with most of your power-ups still intact. However, if you don’t eject or can’t survive that five seconds – which could be an eternity in pressure-packed situations – you’ll have to start from scratch when you respawn. Oh, and don’t forget about the orange orbs, which remind us of the one-time use items in Super Mario Kart ; you know, you’ll get skills like invincibility that can only be used once and for a set amount of time.
Star Trek: D-A-C doesn’t have a release date yet but we have to assume it’ll come out right alongside the film, which means we have less than a month to wait. And when it arrives, it could very well turn out to be one of the most entertaining and addictive downloadable games available on the Network and Xbox Live Arcade.