Star Trek has been a longtime institution in games, from titles based on the original Star Trek universe to others that stemmed from spin-offs like Deep Space Nine and Voyager.  But none are based on the 2009 movie release from J.J. Abrams, which successfully rebooted the franchise after it lost steam a few years back. Namco Bandai and Digital Extremes will be changing all that with its Star Trek game, due for release early next year. The companies recently gave us a chance to get a first look at the game.

In a theater representing what appears to be a section of the U.S.S. Enterprise, the team showed us not one, but two perspectives of the action in full 3D (which the game will support).  This represented the new co-op vision that Star Trek will entail, as, for the first time in the series, you’ll be able to play as both Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock as a cooperative team.  There’s an advantage to both, as Kirk likes to take the more adventurous route while Spock prefers things a bit more logical.  The duo need to work together if they’re going to get anywhere.

The demo took place on New Vulcan, signifying that the game takes place after the first film, where the original Vulcan planet was destroyed by Nero.  The two are beamed to the planet to find dead Vulcans everywhere, or attacking them without any will of their own.  Upon analyzing them, Spock finds that their bloodstream has been corrupted.  And while he can’t quite nail down the source, it isn’t long before they manage to show up – an alien race simply known as the Gorn.  (Fans of the original TV series will remember these aliens well.)

Over the course of the demo, we were treated to some fun third-person shooting action, where Kirk and Spock coordinated their attacks and brought down several corrupted Vulcans (with stun shots) and killer Gorn soldiers (with kill shots).  They’re also able to work as a unit for getting through situations, such as giving someone a boost when they need to reach a hatch, or shooting an enemy when they have your partner in their clutches.  Typical co-op stuff, but Digital Extremes has really made it work here.

The demo concluded with a battle on a space deck on New Vulcan, where Kirk had no choice but to call in an aerial strike of torpedoes from the Enterprise, leveling the deck and all the Gorn on it – only for more spacecraft and soldiers to show up afterwards…

Digital Extremes has done a solid job recapturing the vibe of the J.J. Abrams film, complete with a fully realized alien world with Vulcan and great character models.  Kirk and Spock represent their cinematic selves almost perfectly, ugly yellow and blue sweaters and all.  They’re also voiced by the actors from the film, with Chris Pine filling in for Kirk and Zachary Quinto reprising his role as Spock.  (Other actors from the film are also supplying dialogue, including Simon Pegg as Scotty and Karl Urban as McCoy.)

Though the demo was brief, it gives you an idea of the Mass Effect-like action that awaits, with a number of missions that lie ahead that both fans and casual players will certainly love. We’ll see just how this game fares when it arrives for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 next year.