Deathmatch. Assault. Conquest. That’s what DAC stands for, but really, it’s the 21st century – do we still need to stand for tie-ins like this? In trying to find something nice to say about this lazy, top-down shooter, we came up with exactly two things. First, if you leave the main menu up for a few seconds, it plays the only bit anyone remembers from the new Star Trek theme. Second, if you’re going to pay actual money-cash for a rubbish Xbox Live Arcade shooter that’s smuggled its way onto PC like some insect in the buttocks of a careless tourist, at least this one’s cheap.
From the moment you fire it up to the moment you tire of it (which should still leave a minute or so before your soft-boiled egg is done), DAC is an awful approximation of what it would be like to control a starship; slow and jerky to move, your craft handles more like farm machinery than the sleek, warp-enabled Enterprise. The game had one thing to nail: the feeling of the ships, and it fumbled it like a Tribble.
Deathmatch is really Team Deathmatch – apparently TDAC didn’t sound sexy enough. Assault features the two sides attacking/defending a starbase, but no one seems to be playing it online. In Conquest, you capture floating control points. It’s the closest DAC gets to being a decent game, but still never gets beyond a resounding ugh. There’s also a solo-only mode, Survival, where you face off against waves of computer-controlled enemies, which is so tedious that firing it up a second time should automatically Twitter out a cry for help on your behalf. Jumping into online matches is easy, but at least half the player slots are inevitably taken up by AI bots, completely ruling out anything even approaching team play.
Even if there were other humans around, there just isn’t the depth for any strategy beyond finding the nearest clump of friendly ships and swallowing as many power-ups as you can from under their noses. There are only a handful of maps, which is ridiculous considering they’re just space backgrounds with a few floating walls. The two sides, Federation and Romulan, are identical apart from their power-ups, and while you get a choice of five ships for each, only the Fighters are really worth bothering with.
Even when it clicks and your team romps to victory in supposed style, DAC is still blander than a deleted scene from Star Trek: Enterprise. It’s wrong to expect too much from a game like this, but from the clumsy title on down, DAC fails to deliver. It doesn’t feel like a Star Trek experience and it doesn’t cut the mustard as an arcade game in its own right. A year ago, at least it might have been timely. Now, there’s no reason for it to live long or prosper.
Dec 9, 2009