Trekkies rejoice for now, thanks to VR technology, you can live your dream of captaining a federation star ship. It’s worth noting that the entry point for this experience isn’t cheap. You either need a VR ready pc and a Vive or Occulus headset or a PS4 and PSVR headset and if you want to get the most out of this game then you need three friend with similar equipment. The good news is the online play is cross platform, so you at least don’t need to co-ordinate with your very rich mates, if they can afford VR, to make sure you all invest in the same platform.
Star Trek Bridge Crew allows you take on one of four roles on the bridge of a federation ship: Captain, Helmsman, Tactical or Engineering. Disappointingly all four roles have you seating on the bridge within verbal hailing distance. I, personally, was really hoping that engineering would be in the engine room. I really wanted to do the Scotty thing of explosions all around me saying “I just can’t do it Captain!” but alas, that bit of excitement is missing.
The visuals in the game are great, the bridges are well designed and while not exact copies of the ones from the TV or Movies they look very recognisable as Star Trek bridges. However, there isn’t much variation in what you can see as you are bolted to your seat. I would love to get in that turbo lift and visit the holodeck or even just walk over to stand in front of the main screen, but no can do. The processes also seem faithfully recreated, if a little dumbed down. You have to plot a course before engaging warp and charge the warp engines or you’ll find yourself going nowhere, and there is a similar prerequisite to using the transporter, in that you have to scan the ship first. The processes feel right and you do find yourself giving the same commands as in the games and films but it does all feel that it’s been left only skin deep. You’ll learn most of what you need in a single session and once you have there’s no depth or complexity to keep your interest.
It also doesn’t help that a lot of the missions seem to boil down to doing the same fundamental things. Go here, scan this. Go here, fight this. Go here, disrupt these systems. Combat can be fun but there are only a few different ship types you go up against and the tactics of fighting them doesn’t seem to be drastically different. Most of the fun seems to come from multiplayer and from things going wrong rather than right, with an accomplished multiplayer crew it all feels rather mundane but with the right party it can be a real good laugh and a good bit of fun.
Single player mode allows you to play all the missions available in multiplayer by yourself with an AI crew. You only have the choice of the captain role in single player but can take over individual AI stations in game at any time. The AI aren’t a great crew. The helmsman can’t seem to cope with being told to go to a certain place while a voiding certain objects, he can only do one or the other which gets frustrating quickly. You’ll find yourself taking him over most. However, the rest of the crew are generally quite competent. Single player has been greatly improved with the inclusion of voice commands. The menu system was fiddly in places and felt cumbersome during combat, and being able to just hold down a button and issue verbal commands does speed things up and also increases immersion to almost the levels you get in multiplayer. Once the voice commands were added, for the first time in single player, I was able to actually feel like I was commanding a ship. There’s nothing like sitting in the captain’s chair and being able to say “engage” and have the ship jump into warp.
Overall, like many VR games, Star Trek Bridge Crew is limited in scope and therefore longevity, but what it does deliver, it delivers well. There’s certainly no better Star Trek experience than this currently available, just because of the VR aspect and multiplayer. I’ve had a blast commanding a starship and shooting down those pesky Klingons and while I certainly wished for more and while there’s certainly plenty of room for further development, what has been provided is a solid experience. If you have a group of VR ready friends then you’ll have a blast, if you don’t then the online group finder does a decent job and with the voice commands even single player is good fun, if limited by the not entirely competent AI crew. If you enjoy Star Trek or are a VR connoisseur then this is the game for you. If you want a deep simulation style game with the complexity of previous Star Trek simulation games then you may find yourself disappointed as the processes have been kept quite basic.