Twitch trek

Chances are, when you think of Star Trek, you don’t necessarily picture fast-and-frantic space dogfights in the same way that you might within the Star Wars universe.

Chances are, when you think of Star Trek, you don’t necessarily picture fast-and-frantic space dogfights in the same way that you might within the Star Wars universe.

Space combat in Trek—despite what J.J. Abrams might have you believe—as always been more like 19th century naval warfare with a greater focus on slowly circling an enemy, finding a weak point in their defenses and choosing the right moment to attack.

This is not the case in Star Trek D-A-C. As a top-down, arcade-style shooter, it has much more in common with the twitchy-reflex gameplay of Geometry Wars than a slower-paced or more strategic war game, but that’s OK. D-A-C, (which stands for defend, assault and conquest, though this is never explained in the game) may have little to do with Trek‘s tactical logistics, but it’s a PlayStation Network release that will only set you back $10. And for that price, the game provides some pretty engaging, if somewhat shallow, play.

This has a lot to do with the game’s core single-player experience, which is a pretty standard survival mode. You’re given the option of commanding one of five classes of Federation ships against endless waves of Romulan attackers.

Thankfully, the different classes of Federation ships, which range from small, agile fighters to bombers, missile-cruisers and the series’ iconic flagships, lend a bit of strategy to D-A-C.

Flagships, while powerful, are slower, have auto-firing phasers and manually aimed photon torpedoes. Bombers are speedy and pack a payload, but are small and can’t withstand a sustained frontal assault.

Fighters have low defense but a quick rate of fire, and can take down a flagship if piloted by a skilled player.

And then there are the secondary weapons, which give you bonuses like invulnerability, higher-grade weapons and improved engine thrusters for quick escapes. Your enemies are, of course, afforded the same strengths and weaknesses, so you have to pick your battle strategies a little more carefully than simply blasting everything in sight.

This makes the game more interesting than say, Zombie Apocalypse, another recent downloadable top-down shooter with a similar design sense whose lack of variety between characters made the game deplorably repetitive, a fate D-A-C manages to mostly avoid.

The game’s multiplayer edition is fun too, with a handful of different modes such as co-op, free-for-all online and team death matches, capture the flag and “defend or destroy” base assault. Like the single-player game, online matches are simple, but engaging enough to retain a certain level of pick-up-and-play.

Although D-A-C is technically a licensed movie game, it doesn’t fall victim to the shit mechanics and execution that most disc-release tie-ins do, thanks to its simplicity.

Fans of Abram’s Trek will recognize various vessels from the film (sorry kids, no Enterprise), which are fun to see rendered in the game, and there’s music from the film, but that’s about it.

Had Paramount Interactive gone all in to try and create an actual game based on the film, it probably would’ve been a far worse endeavor, so this is actually one case where less is more. Plus, it’s $10. If you’re looking for a decent Trek-based arcade shooter (and there aren’t too many to choose from) D-A-C might just do the job.