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The Star Trek: Bridge Crew video game was developed by Red Storm Entertainment for PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Windows and is the VR space fantasy that everyone has been waiting for. The video game is available in both single and multiplayer and, thanks to platforms such as Oculus Rift and StreamVR, will give fans a chance to sit at the helm of a Star Trek ship on a mission to a distant star system.
The plot in Star Trek: Bridge Crew is entrenched in the alternative reality first introduced in the 2009 Star Trek movie, which sees the crew of the Starfleet ship USS Aegis searching for a new home-world. All the gameplay takes place on the bridge, while missions include everything from search and rescue to planetary exploration.
At the heart of Star Trek: Bridge Crew you’ll find a cooperative experience that casts up to four players in key starship officer roles, namely the captain, helm, tactical and engineering. Each officer is tasked with the responsibilities of their assigned station.
The captain is the only role to which mission objectives are displayed and needs to communicate these to the crew as well as set mission parameters in order to be successful. Expectedly, the captain can leap between different roles as and when needed for a more hands-on approach. As for the other officer roles, the helm is responsible for plotting the ships course and activating warp speed when required; the tactical officer is in charge of the ship’s shields and weapon systems; and the engineer oversees repair teams and can redistribute power between the shields and thrusters, as required.
It’s worth noting that each role, except that of captain, can be occupied by either a human player or an AI crew member controlled by the captain if not enough players are available. AI members are especially helpful during single-player mode. Here, the player can freely dish out commands while making the fantasy of commanding a Federation ship a reality.
The success of Star Trek: Bridge Crew will be determined by each player’s ability to juggle tactical decisions while coming to terms with their friend’s human flaws. While AI would blindly follow any command humans, on the other hand would scrutinize the captain’s every decision and, simultaneously, bring out the best and worst out of any group of friends. Perhaps Star Trek: Bridge Crew is best left to dedicated co-op players after all.
As with most VR games, messing around with the controls for the first time is hilariously awkward. The gnarled finger movements don’t always interact with on-screen controls as expected. While most wireless controllers would suffice, it’s the snappiness of the trusty DualShock 4 controller that performs better, especially during high-pressure situations.
Fans of the Star Trek franchise will appreciate the attention to detail instilled in the making of this video game. From the difference between phases and torpedoes, activating the shield and navigate the ship through asteroid field to the inclusion of lens flare, will make trekkies of all creeds feel at home. The Ongoing Voyage mode, which renders the bridge in true 60’s flare, complete with retro buttons and switches, will particularly win over hard-core fans. It does get old quite quickly though and proves to be nothing more than a brief deviation from the other missions.
Having said that, it would appear that Star Trek: Bridge Crew was developed as primarily a multiplayer game. As a single-player experience, the mission will quickly feel laborious, lacking enough excitement to simulate the player for more than a few hours at a time.
Virtual Reality beyond video games
Gamers and gadget hounds aren’t the only ones with a reason to get excited about VR. Virtual reality technology is slowly but surely spilling over into other industries; examples include the use of VR to train astronauts for space missions, while the automotive industry has been using the technology to virtually design prototypes.
In fact, VR has infiltrated just about every industry under the sun, which makes it no surprises that even the shopping and online gaming experience will forever be different. The latter could include VR to simulate a real-world casino experience, with operators already experimenting with the use of VR in games. Here is an online casino where table games such as blackjack and poker could offer a level of realism that was before deemed, well, unrealistic. Another industry where virtual reality holds enormous potential is in the medical field, with medical schools already using the technology to train surgeons.
It would appear that the possibilities of VR are, as they say, endless!
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