Klingons... they pursue us. Relentlessly. Pounding us with torpedoes and phasers. Tracing our impulse drive as we move from location to location buying time to repair and refit the U.S.S. Aegis Starship I am in command of. Always outnumbered or out gunned we fight then we run. At times the damage has been so severe that fires raged on parts of the bridge and crew stations. Each time we did what damage we could to the enemy and impulsed to another part of the area. Warping out was not possible with the damaged warp core being ignored to repair the more needed systems like phasers, torpedoes and shields.
Oh... did I mention we are running low... extremely low... on photon torpedoes with no way to redirect more power to the phasers since so many other systems need power too! Everything is verging on catastrophe as we once again pick up incoming Klingon warships before we are ready for them. We dash to another part of the system while I change places with the engineer to take over repairs and resources. I've also jumped over to the helm station to steer us on more covert paths to avoid detection.
We have already fought and destroyed multiple Klingon ships of differing sizes but this time it's not looking good for the Aegis, the crew, and its neophyte captain. Numerous Klingon ships are searching for us. The fires are not completely out and our torpedo launchers are inoperable. Shields are a distant memory as our hull integrity is below fifty percent. All we need is a little more time but the searching warships are arcing closer and closer to our shrinking corner of local space. We took a real pounding last time they found us. Not sure we could survive another one.
It turns out we weren't so lucky with that mission. Just too many Klingons to handle but it seemed like we were on a mission just as we had seen countless times in Star Trek TOS and TNG. Star Trek Bridge Crew is what VR is supposed to be. What some of us envisioned it to be years ago. Where the player is sitting at the controls... on the bridge... in the thick of it all. Not just role playing, not just problem solving, not just kicking ass but the immersion is so intense that hours go by without knowing it. That's how a game should be. A relentless time eater because you don't want to put it down.
Star Trek Bridge Crew opens with the obligatory cruise around the starship in a very cool glass sided shuttle. Holographic controls and readouts wrapped around parts of the cabin. It looks like there is even a little Romulan Ale on the back desk. The actual gameplay hadn't even started and it was already a bit awe inspiring. The Aegis is a fine-looking starship. One you can't wait to command. This opening is a gateway menu into the game. Once you get past the great aesthetics you can pick training or missions. The main menu also resides on the shuttle console to check mic, exit and other options.
You can play the Captain, Engineer, Helm, and Tactical positions. Each console is unique and requires some quick thinking in combat. While you can have a great time with three other friends it also has a single player mode with AI crew that doesn't lose a thing in the experience. They are two different worlds. Real players take longer, lose focus, crack jokes and generally get distracted which leads to a insanely fun time with the right crew. On the other hand... the single player mission with the AI crew is efficient and deadly as tasks are immediately implemented versus giving a command to a live crew member. Both are extremely positive experiences depending on the type of gameplay you are looking for.
The original TOS bridge is also available but good luck with all those buttons... since that is all there is... buttons... tons of them. Lots of pretty colors too. You need some experience under your belt before you go back in time and board the original Enterprise for a mission. There is no easy learning curve... you are thrown right into the fray with little or no direction other than a help overlay for each button. There are just SO MANY buttons!!! The Aegis on the other hand is a very positive and intuitive control experience. The menus that pop up in front of you change context if you look at the helm, straight ahead or at Tactical. This gives instant access to the commands of each station.
This reviewer was really taken with this game. It has been a very long time since I've stayed up to the wee hours of the morning and then couldn't wait to get back to a game after work or those necessary but mundane chores such as eating and sleeping. This game IS immersion at its finest in the present state of VR. You don't need a Starship, a holodeck or even a large room as this sitting experience doesn't take much space but you do need free time and lots of it. Not to mention an understanding wife, girl(boy)friend or partner since they won't see much of you. Those damn Klingons just won't give up.
HTC Vive and Oculus Rift with Touch Controllers Compatible
M.D. McCallum, aka WarLord is an international award winning commercial graphics artist, 3D animator, published author, project director and webmaster with a freelance career that spans over 20 years. M.D. is currently working on VR projects and characters. You can learn more about MD at his website.