Star Trek DAC on Xbox Live Arcade May 13

Planning to see the Star Trek reboot tonight? Not me, sadly. I'm waiting for a friend and an IMAX in a couple weeks. On a 53 foot tall screen, Zachary Quinto's plucked and meticulously sculpted eyebrows are going to look like a couple of jumbo mutant caterpillars.

That also means I'll end up fooling around with Star Trek DAC — the new Xbox Live Arcade not-so-boldly-going top-down-shooter take on the franchise — beforehand.

A Star Trek top-down shooter? Kind of dovetails with the reboot's action-tastic vibe, if you think about it. "Simplistic" meets "Showcase." Pretty, flashy, explode-y visuals without the think-clang-thud of Star Trek's nerdy pseudoscience or famously constrictive canon. Just you and up to 11 other armchair Federation or Romulan skippers (6v6) commanding flagships, fighters, or bombers, and blasting the bejesus out of each other with phasers and photon torpedoes while whizzing around smallish arena-style levels gobbling twirling power-ups.

Levels are supposed to average about 10 minutes to polish off. Yeah, I know — not much of a thinker, but then I've heard the movie isn't either.

One of the cooler-sounding ideas? You can launch an escape pod right before your ship explodes. If you can survive for four or five seconds, you get to keep the bulk of your upgrades.

An alternative co-op mode lets up to six players gang up on the computer, and there's also a solo mode for all you nebbish introverts (hey, me too!) who'd rather square off against the computer solitaire.

Mode-wise, you've got Conquest, Deathmatch, and Assault. Conquest mode is capture point driven, Deathmatch is obviously kill-driven, and Assault mode is basically Conquest with objectives you've got to capture in order. Mechanics-wise, it's essentially rock-paper-scissors in space.

What's the DAC stand for? No one knows. Paramount says it's a secret. Uh-huh. Data Acquisition Control? Digital to Analog Converter? Deferred Acquisition Costs? Divide And Conquer? Duck And Cover? Does Anyone Care?

Anyway. Why didn't Paramount have Star Trek DAC ready for simultaneous launch with the movie? No idea, but you'll be able to grab it off Xbox Live Arcade next Wednesday, May 13th.

One last thing: Reason to be mildly enthusiastic? The developer's Naked Sky Entertainment, the guys responsible for RoboBlitz, a third-person physics-based puzzle game, nominated during the 2007 Independent Games Festival for both the Seamus McNally Grand Prize and Excellence in Visual Art awards.

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