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Review: Star Trek Bridge Crew

We give you an in-depth look at Ubisoft’s latest AAA game for cross platform VR

Paul Trowe

As VR Today's Entertainment Editor, I use my 30+ year tenure in the interactive entertainment industry to research, test and play the latest VR games and applications for the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Samsung GearVR head mounted displays. I take notes on various attributes and features, collate my notes and write an article, review, or preview of one of the games or apps after I've done all the research. If it's a review, I give the publication a rating out of our 10 point rating guideline.

If you’re a Star Trek fan, your dreams of joining Star Fleet have just become a reality in the most realistic Star Trek game ever created.

Star Trek: Bridge Crew is more than just a AAA game made for all major VR headsets. It’s actually two games in one. On one hand you and your friends can command the USS Aegis, a next generation prototype stealth battleship, or the original USS Enterprise (NCC-1701) from the original Star Trek series.

In Star Trek: Bridge crew, you help command a brand new ship of the Federation in charge of finding a new suitable home for the Vulcan population in a largely uncharted region of space known as The Trench. There is a major Klingon presence in The Trench and you can be sure to encounter multiple Klingon scout ships as well as Birds of Prey.

The game starts you out by allowing you to customize your avatar. You can be either Vulcan or human, male or female, and you can additionally customize your facial features to suit the perfect Star Fleet officer you shall become.

Bridge Crew allows you to play by yourself on a solo adventure with AI shipmates at the helm, tactical, and engineering, or you can play with up to three additional friends or strangers where each person takes a position in one of the respective roles.

Over the last four days we’ve played the game extensively both in single and multiplayer, in each role with friends, as well as on both the USS Aegis and the USS Enterprise.

The following is a breakdown of each game:

USS Aegis

The Aegis is exactly what you’d expect from a next generation Star Fleet battleship. Most of the systems are automated and there isn’t as much manual input required as on the Enterprise. Don’t let that statement fool you, however, because at each station you need to operate it exactly like the crew of the Enterprise from Star Trek: Next Generation. The simulator shows you how.

The Simulator:

Before you can jump on the bridge of the Aegis with any knowledge you must go through the simulator for each station. At tactical, helm, engineering, and as captain you play through hands on simulated missions with videos and real time action to help you learn how best to run each area of the ship. Playing the simulator takes about ten minutes per station but it’s imperative you pay attention because you’ll learn valuable tips and tricks that could potentially save your life while on a mission from Star Fleet.

Tactical:

On the main panel at tactical you’re not only in charge of the ships weapons, but also making sure the ship’s signature is undetectable to enemy vessels. You have the ability to lock on to an enemy ship and scan the ship for life signs or perform a tactical scan of their capabilities. You can also arm torpedoes, fire torpedoes, fire phasers, as well as raise and lower shields. As a tactical officer your job is to also scan not only entire ships, but also their sub-systems. This way you can target a sub-system instead of firing on the entire ship. This is useful, for example, if you just want to cripple their weapons system.

On the side panel at tactical you have the ability to lock on to life signs and beam them on to your ship. You also have a special weapon only the Aegis has, the ability to cripple an enemy ship via one of three ways: disrupt their engines, isolate their shield frequency, or disable their weapon targeting.

Helm:

The helm is responsible for maneuvering the ship in a local system, going to impulse power, and of course going to warp. It should be noted, however, that the warp coils must first be charged as well as have enough power allocated to the engines before the ship can go to warp. When the ship warps it draws an enormous amount of power, so additional power resources need to be allocated away from either the shields or the phasers. This is done by the engineering officer in consultation with you and done strategically to ensure the ship isn’t left without enough power to defend herself during battle. The helm needs to not only plot the course to the next destination, but also make sure the ship is aligned properly on the right course before jumping to warp or impulse. In addition, the helm is in charge of making sure enemy vessels are within your ship’s firing arch so that you’re not attacked from behind. You also have the ability to move the ship up or down to avoid potentially getting hit by an incoming torpedo.

Like tactical, helm also has the ability to transport people to the ship as well as perform the various system intrusion attacks on enemy vessels.

Engineering:

The engineering station has multiple duties which include controlling power distribution between the phasers, engines, and shields as well the ability to reroute power from one system to another in times of need. This has to be done carefully, however, since it’s possible to overload one of the systems you’re drawing power from or to. The ship’s engineer also has to charge the warp coils and allocate 100% power to the engines, taking it away from either the phasers or the shields. In battle, the engineer is also responsible for sending repair crews to each section of the ship that’s been hit by enemy fire. Our of all the stations, the ship’s engineer has to be strategic in choosing her actions.

Like the other stations, the engineer has the ability to beam people aboard as well as disrupt the targeted ship’s sub-systems.

Captain:

The captain is the person who manages all the other stations. The captain tells the helm where to go, tells tactical who to scan and what for, and where to allocate power or repairs. In addition, the captain is the one who receives the orders from Star Fleet and must ensure the crew knows what their objectives are so they can better aid the team effort.

When playing with the AI crew, the captain can give orders directly to each AI crew member from the captain’s chair or, if more precise instructions are required, can actually take over a crewman’s position by jumping in their seat and performing the commands manually.

Playing as the captain is both rewarding and at the same time stressful because the more you play the game, the more difficult the missions become, and your entire crew is relying on you for sound judgement and not to put them in harms way for no good reason.

USS Enterprise

Playing the original USS Enterprise from the late 60’s is much more difficult than playing any of the stations on board the USS Aegis. None of the systems are automated and there are easily ten times the amount of buttons and switches to push in order to get the ship to do what you need her to do. This is why you can’t immediately play the Enterprise until you’ve first played missions on the Aegis, because you need to get familiar with the ship’s automated functions before you can expect to perform those same functions manually.

There’s much less busy work on board the Aegis and we think the majority of players are going to want to play on her instead of the Constitution-class Enterprise, even though the Enterprise is a much sturdier ship.

Various mission types

While playing Bridge Crew you can choose between the campaign missions or the ongoing missions. In the campaign there are ten missions you need to complete in addition to what I can only assume Ubisoft has planned for DLC expansion. Once you’ve played through all the campaign missions however, you’re free to choose the Ongoing Missions selection and be taken through even more missions which are outside of the main campaign. I highly suggest you train in the campaign first because when we tested out the ongoing missions we were immediately hit with a slew of Klingon vessels we needed to defend against. Needless to say, this is for the more experienced players.

In the Ongoing Mission you can choose between the following: Defend, Recover, Rescue, Research or select All Missions for a random pick. We also suggest you play these more experienced missions with a full crew instead of the AI crew since humans will react faster and on their own without waiting for your every single individual order. You can use either the Aegis or the Enterprise when choosing Ongoing Missions. Here’s the breakdown:

Rescue: this shows the humanitarian side of Starfleet where you typically arrive on the scene to render aid and make life or death decisions for both your crew as well as those you’re trying to aid.

Recover: your crew must use their communication and coordination to capture a criminal that has escaped before he can get to his Klingon contacts.

Defend: your crew must render aid to other ships during Operation Distant Shore. These missions tests your ability to fight strategically using either supreme firepower or your new ship’s stealth capabilities.

Research: focusing more on casual game play your crew is tasked with gathering information on The Trench and relaying it back to Starfleet.

Overall the game is very well polished and in really good shape. We’ve noticed some bugs but not enough to complain about here. We would have, however, liked to have seen more missions in the campaign mode. We felt that was a little bit short and hope that Ubisoft / Red Storm has some DLC planned for the game.

While we still consider single player a fun experience, it’s the four person full crew which really adds to the team game play. Everybody working together to complete the mission is really rewarding, especially when you win unscathed.

The game will officially go on sale May 30th’s super Tuesday, and I suspect the majority of VR users to pick it up because Star Trek: Bridge Crew is, without a doubt, going to be the game of the year and win a number of awards at this year’s E3. Congratulations to the team at Red Storm for creating a game that practically every VR user is going to want to play.

This review was conducted with the help and long game play hours of Shawn Recinto.

Review guidelines: This review is made in accordance with VR Today’s official game review guidelines. If you have a review request for a game you’ve developed or published please send an email to reviews@vrtodaymagazine.com

[rwp-review id=”0″]

Written by Paul Trowe

As VR Today's Entertainment Editor, I use my 30+ year tenure in the interactive entertainment industry to research, test and play the latest VR games and applications for the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Samsung GearVR head mounted displays. I take notes on various attributes and features, collate my notes and write an article, review, or preview of one of the games or apps after I've done all the research. If it's a review, I give the publication a rating out of our 10 point rating guideline.

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