Wednesday 23 August 2017

A virtual taste of Star Trek saga

Star Trek Bridge Crew (PSVR, PC), ★★★ Age: 12+

Star Trek Bridge Crew
Star Trek Bridge Crew
Ronan Price

Ronan Price

The Star Trek holodeck represents the ultimate in virtual reality: an immersive space where anything is possible. Bridge Crew doesn't even come close and doesn't even try. But as a VR experience, it offers a fair approximation of what it might be like to crew a starship like the USS Enterprise.

As the name suggests, STBC adopts a very narrow simulation of the captain's role, confining the action purely to the bridge. You don't get to wander the ship, you don't get to lead an away team down to an untamed planet. You simply captain the USS Aegis on a series of missions to explore uncharted space while fending off the Klingons.

The captain commands three other officers - Helm, Tactical and Engineer - who control the destination, weapons, speed, shields and scanners among other functions.

But in single-player mode, the limitations of the AI quickly become apparent, and overriding their decisions is often a necessity. That reduces STBC to a tiresome series of mechanical button presses as you flit from console to console.

Bridge Crew feels much more satisfying in online co-op with up to three others. The banter and the potential for human snafus breathe fresh life into the simplistic action and players get time to admire the majestic vistas in space. Yet that buzz is short-lived thanks to a paucity of different scenarios and overall shallowness of the challenges. That Star Trek holodeck remains a sci-fi dream well out of reach.

Danger Zone

(PS4/PC) ★★★★ Age: 12+

The notion of a crash simulator where the aim is to cause as much vehicular carnage as possible is too good to be left on the shelf. So the team behind the revered Burnout series have revived their idea in Danger Zone, a distillation of the theme that's part puzzler, part score attack.

Like crash mode in Burnout, you send a car careening at speed towards a busy junction with the intention of triggering as many smashes as possible for big points. The puzzles lie in figuring the angles of attack to ping-pong between lanes of traffic and collect explosive power-ups to extend the chain of mayhem.

Unlike the vibrant Burnout, however, DZ is set in a drab, underground test chamber, whose lack of personality detracts from the game's long-term appeal.

The early missions revel in the sheer fun of destroying vehicles in fireballs and showers of sparks but later junctions demand rather too much perfection in placement and timing to navigate its multi-level puzzles.

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