Star Trek warps onto the App Store just in time to make the premiere of the movie, a stylish reboot of one of the most beloved franchises in all of Sci-Fi. The iPhone game doesn’t have the same star power as the flick–which has been piling up rave reviews like Captain Kirk runs through the ladies–but it’s still a worthy top-down shooter with some cool ideas behind it.
In addition to serving the Federation in matters of diplomacy and goodwill, the USS Enterprise also happens to be a flat-out war machine–it’s armed to the teeth with phasers, photon torpedoes, tractor beams, and shields. In this shooter, you’ll use all of this high tech hardware to pulverize thug races like the Klingons, Cardassians, and Romulans across 12 missions.
There are three control types to choose from–touch, tilt, or virtual joystick–as well as a toggle for automatic torpedoes and phasers. We were satisfied with the touch controls, where the Enterprise obediently follows your finger around.
Torpedoes shoot straight out in front of the Enterprise, while phasers lance out to rake baddies at closer range. The tractor beam is useful for grabbing powerups from a distance, and shields are basically your life bar.
This hardware can be upgraded by spending stars earned during the course of the missions. Each mission has one primary objective, such as killing a boss ship, and two secondary objectives, like wiping out a certain percentage of enemies, or avoiding all floating mines.
Bulking the already beefy Enterprise up even further is good stuff. Phasers gain range, and then start to “chain” from enemy to enemy; photon torpedoes eventually gain homing capability; and tractor beams start to stun your enemies.
On top of that, there are plenty of powerups to pick up during the course of the missions. EMP bombs freeze enemies in their tracks, wingmen triple the Enterprise’s torpedoes for a limited time, and the hyper phaser sweeps the screen completely clean. The combat feels very satisfying, especially when you unload your whole box of tools on the hapless aliens.
Reading this, one gets the sense that the bad guys are kind of underpowered next to the Enterprise. In fact, they don’t really stand a chance. Although there were certainly some hairy moments where the screen turned into a total “bullet hell,” we didn’t die at all during our playthrough, even after we set the game to Hard Mode. After a while, the lack of challenge and somewhat slow pace of the game started to bore us a little.
The presentation is good, but not great. The breathtaking deep space backgrounds are nice, and the ships look sharp. On the other hand, the animation is on the stiff side, and the explosion effects are only average. It also bugged us that all enemy ships other than bosses lack life meters, making it tough to tell how much you have to hit them.
But for three bucks, Star Trek is a pretty good space shooter. If you want to know what it’s like to sit in Kirk’s chair (on an exceptionally rough day!) for a few hours, this game is worth a look.