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Star Trek is a single-player third person shooter action game with cooperative gameplay elements, which allow two players to control Kirk and Spock. When playing in the single-player mode, Kirk and Spock have different paths through the missions in order to encourage re-playability. The game does not allow players to switch between Kirk and Spock during a chapter, although this ability was included in preview versions of the game shown to reviewers prior to launch. It also does not allow for fellow players to "drop-in" to play alongside co-operatively. In a similar manner to the Gears of War series, the game includes a cover system, which protects the player characters from enemy fire.
The two characters show different gameplay techniques, with Kirk being the more typical shooter while Spock has stealth techniques and can use the Vulcan nerve pinch and mind meld. Each character is equipped with weapons to reflect their gameplay style, with Kirk armed with a phaser equipped with a stun setting, while Spock's weapon is quieter to reflect his stealthier style of play and freezes enemies instead. As players progress through the game, they gain experience allowing them to unlock additional settings for those weapons. In addition to the weapons, the player characters are also equipped with tricorders, which are used to interact with the environment and progress plot points.
During the course of the game, players have to fight their way across a number of environments. The first mission sees Kirk and Spock land on the planet New Vulcan; a colony created by Vulcans following the destruction of their homeworld in the 2009 film.There are further types of gameplay in Star Trek seen in the mini-games that appear throughout, such as those featuring "space dives" as seen in both 2009's Star Trek and 2013's Star Trek Into Darkness. Other elements of the game break from the third-person shooter style. These include swimming levels that have Spock and Kirk move past obstacles using a teleportation gun, and levels featuring turret-based shooting on board Enterprise. Climbing and platforming are built into the terrain exploration elements of the main game.