7 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Star Trek Encounters Review

It’s time to look at a game that I got a very long time ago. I found this one at an obscure Gamestop on a random day and thought it looked interesting enough. It’s not exactly what I expected and had a bit of a slow start due to the game not explaining things very well, but it picked up quite a bit as the game went on. It’s not the ideal Star Trek game but if you’re really just interested in the space aspect then this is certainly the game for you.

The story mode features 3-5 levels from each of the Star Trek shows. Classic, Enterprise, Voyager, Star Trek, Next Generation, and probably some others. There are also two final levels which crossover the whole franchise. Maybe more like 1 to be honest as the first one just sets the stage for the event. There’s not much of an actual plot as each mission or series of missions are essentially stand alone adventures. You get some text at the very beginning which tells you what is happening and mini cutscenes during the level. Only very small parts of the game have any real voice acting.

You figure out early on that you need to be playing this game for the gameplay and not the plot. You never get to see a single character as the ships are then only things on the screen. As I mentioned, the gameplay isn’t explained too well as it’s actually fairly complex and intricate. It’s an overhead airplane shooter. Of course you’re a spaceship and not a plane. You explore the universe, fight aliens, and help people out. You have your primary weapon which you can switch from two different options and your sub weapon. The sub weapon has around 6 options and some of them are not actually meant for combat like your tractor or energy fuel. They all serve a purpose though so you’ll want to know what they are when tackling a level. You can use R2 to target an enemy so that you can transport some of your crew aboard or to shut down their engine without destroying the ship. You can alter your ship’s stats during the level as well by putting more power into shields at the expense of weapons or vice versa. Throughout the game I always kept weapons and engines on maximum with shields and scanners on minimum. It’s just the best call for me as otherwise the weapons take a really long time to load up.

After you get the hang of the controls, the levels start to feel a lot easier. There is also the occasional race level which is a nice change of pace. When the Borg Queen attacks you are not strong enough to stop her so racing through a bunch of portals is your only way out. The races can be reasonably difficult as missing more than a few portals can be fatal and crashing into enemy ships is just as lethal. They were some of the most fun levels in the game as I do like racing quite a bit. The most tedious levels where the ones where you’d have to do the same thing multiple times like transporting bombs. Plus, I just don’t like having to protect things (Like the bomb) as I prefer to just fight and knock everyone out. It lets me just go all out.

So the difficulty is pretty reasonable and the game’s length isn’t bad. I could usually only complete 4-5 levels in one sitting and there were around 20 if I’m not mistaken. It should last you around 6-7 hours if I had to make a ballpark estimate. There are a lot of checkpoints throughout the levels and you have infinite lives so you don’t have to worry about replaying a large segment or anything like that. One unfortunate thing is that you cannot skip cutscenes. If you lost in a place where the cutscene is particularly long, you have to watch it over and over again.

The graphics for the game are pretty nice. They may not pop out at you quite as much as in the cover, but it’s aged really well for the PS2. The colorful levels towards the end like being in the pink monster were really intense and I liked the last level’s design as everything would keep spazzing out to show you that you were in a time loop. The soundtrack is quite bland though. I feel like there were only 2-3 songs that just kept repeating over and over again. None of them were catchy either so that’s a little disappointing.

There’s a little replay value here, but not much. You can try to find all of the collectibles which honestly weren’t that hard to find. I grabbed about 80-90% of them without even trying during the normal play through. Hopefully it tells you which levels have the rest though since it would take a while to go through all of the levels. I can’t imagine that the reward is really worth the time to be honest so it’s not something I would pursue. There is also Skirmish mode which sounds like endless fighting and multiplayer so that definitely helps the replay value quite a bit. It’s no Star Fox, but I can see you having some fun here.

On a final note I do have to say that the final level was a little anticlimactic. There wasn’t a final boss or anything which was a little disappointing and the level just ends. We were actually losing against the legion of enemy ships, but the time stream just ends up warping them away so everything is happy again. I think I can speak for a lot of people when I say that a full win would have been a lot more satisfying than the villains simply being whisked away. The only true boss in the game was probably the Borg Queen which was handled well. The final level should have absolutely done the same thing.

Overall, Star Trek Encounters is a fun game. I really think it could have used more of a plot but at least the gameplay was solid. The final level was pretty epic as it was great to see all of the Starships from the Star Trek franchise team up. We may have only been all together for the final part of the level but it felt like a really good payoff. Since this was a crossover Star Trek game, I would have felt a little cheated if this didn’t happen. The game did a good job of including all of the iconic Star Trek enemies like the Klingons and the Borg as well so it had a nice attention to detail. I’d recommend checking the game out, I think you’ll like it more than you’d expect. You should play it straight through though as forgetting the controls can be fatal in a title like this one.

Overall 7/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Jupiter Ascending Review

This is one film where even the trailer looked bad. Typically, even if a film ends up not being good, the trailer will still grab your attention. Not Jupiter Ascending as it just looked iffy the whole time. It’s hard to describe, but it looks like a mainstream film that should have been a TV movie. Either way, that’s essentially what happened and the film didn’t end up being too good.

Jupiter is rather unsatisfied with her life right now. She helps out with her family by keeping houses clean and scrubbing toilets, but she feels like she was destined for better things. One day, she is nearly kidnapped by aliens, but saved by a different alien and told that she is actually a princess/queen who is the rightful ruler of Earth. That’s not a bad deal, but it also means that three different enemy groups are after her so Jupiter will constantly be on the run. Can she ever go back to her old lifestyle?

The film is a bit of a train wreck from start to finish. Let’s get the positive out of the way first. The action scenes are fairly fun for the most part. The energy affects are fairly neat and I love the fact that one of the big battles takes place in the middle of such a large city. Usually, that just doesn’t happen because the budget is too low or because the films just don’t realize how cool that kind of fight looks. There are also quite a few spaceship battles (Although those are less exciting) and the action was certainly a highlight. The only battle that I didn’t care for was when Caine fought against the lizard hybrid at the end. That fight was a little more brutal and not quite as flashy as the others. In the end, I would definitely give the action a thumbs up.

From there, thing get a little dicey for the film. For starters the romance is poorly handled. Jupiter falls in love with Caine seconds after they meet. Now that’s what I’d call a romance based purely on looks and I don’t see such a relationship going very far. It’s just not a good way to get the main characters together and the film just seemed to add that plot in because it was expected. It doesn’t help that both characters are unlikable as well.

Jupiter complains about her situation a whole lot. She also played a big role in losing the argument at the dinner table because she gave the answer to her opponent while trying to be passively aggressive. It’s why that tactic never works. Even once she’s a ruler, Jupiter never becomes a very likable main character and spends her time being surprised at what’s happening. She’s fairly gullible and gets into a lot of bad situations. Her big scene at the end involves a quick skirmish, but she doesn’t look impressive during that fight either.

As for Caine, he’s as generic as they come. He’s very gruff and certainly not the nicest of companions. He seems to be a little full of himself and his personality just ensured that I wouldn’t like the guy. Acting a little nicer to Jupiter would have been a great start, but it just proved to be too much for him. He also gets humiliated by his boss when they fight and all of his big lines just fall flat.

None of the other characters are likable either, but you may have expected that. There’s the comic relief character who is just here to make everyone feel bad and the other family members who don’t understand Jupiter’s plight. Not that they should as far as the alien part is concerned, but they don’t have any real development. The villains are also rather two dimensional and are really just here so that the film can have some antagonists. They can’t really fight and just rely on the minions to do the fighting for them.

There are also a few bounty hunters in the film who are just around to look cool. They vanish rather quickly and don’t add anything to the plot. Their laser guns are cool I suppose, but that’s just not good enough. One plot involving the bees was also unnecessary and it’s not fun to see the bees just flying all over the place. If I was Jupiter, I would have left that house as fast as possible even if she couldn’t be stung due to her aura of royalty.

While this is a sci-fi film, you’ll feel like nothing really happened by the end of it. Jupiter learned that she owns the Earth and stops a few villains. The rest of the film is mainly fluff and just expanding the universe when it’s not necessary since this is probably not getting a sequel anytime soon. If it ever does get a sequel, hopefully it will prove to be much more interesting than this one.

Ascending also touches upon the classic reincarnation idea as the heroes and villains are brought back into the world once in a while. The claim for this is that the DNA is exactly the same so it may as well be the same person right? Even if the mind is different, the body is the same. I don’t buy this at all, but at least now the villains can tell Jupiter how much she looks like her mother. They all don’t really age since they have a pool of youth that restores their body at the expense of everyone else. It’s a rather shady business, but the aliens don’t really have any morals to keep them from doing this. Generically, the pool also leads to some unnecessary fanservice as one of the characters decides to show Jupiter how to use it. It’s rather self explanatory if you ask me, but Jupiter did seem to be a little slow on the uptake at times.

This is the kind of movie that is simply better as a video game. If the gameplay played out like a Star Fox game or even a 007 title, it could be a lot of fun. Otherwise, this film wasn’t very enjoyable and it just feels worn out the whole time. It tries out a lot of ideas, but it only does so generically and even the fight scenes began to get a little generic by the end. The effects for the battles were still better than average and I liked the boots that Caine wore, but that’s hardly enough to save a film.

Overall, Jupiter Ascending is a movie that you should take a pass on. The action scenes are the only good thing about it and the rest of the film is just unoriginal and not very interesting. Adding in a good villain could have really made a difference, but with no characters to root for, you’ll quickly lose interest in the plot. At least Jupiter starts to appreciate her situation and doesn’t complain as much in the end of the film, but as long as she doesn’t mind showing off her new skills on skyscrapers, the world will likely find out about her ordeal very soon. When that happens, Earth will finally be able to fight back and take out the aliens. If you want a good alien story, then you should probably go watch Broly The Legendary Super Saiyan. That’s an alien story with a lot of tension and action!

Overall 3/10