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.
The game takes place within the Star Trek reboot universe, following 2009's Star Trek film and before Star Trek Into Darkness. It follows the adventures of Captain James T. Kirk (voiced by Chris Pine) and his crew on board the Starfleet starship, the USS Enterprise. The first film showed Kirk becoming Captain of the Enterprise for the first time and the formation of the crew, and so the video game shows one of their early missions. The rebooted universe was developed by director J.J. Abrams along with writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman from the 1960s American television series Star Trek: The Original Series and the six films which followed the crew's adventures.
In 2259, Enterprise receives a distress call from a space station harvesting the power of a binary star. There is too much interference to beam the crew aboard, so Kirk and Spock (voiced by Zachary Quinto) take a shuttle to rescue the crew. They encounter T'Mar, a childhood friend of Spock, who explains they were gathering energy to power the Helios device, which would speed up the terraforming of New Vulcan; the team inadvertently opened a rip in the fabric of space. Beaming to New Vulcan, Kirk and Spock meet with T'Mar's father Surok, who explains the station's power from the base was lost after they were attacked by creatures—who call themselves the Gorn— from the rip. The Gorn infect some of the crew with a virus that makes them aggressive. Kirk and Spock enter the locked down sections of the base to recover the infected survivors, but are unable to stop the Gorn from stealing the Helios device and kidnapping Surok.
Kirk opts to take the infected to a nearby starbase instead of pursuing the Gorn Commander's ship through the Rip. At the starbase, Kirk, Spock, and T'Mar meet with the Commodore Daniels, who implies he gave T'Mar the specifications for the device as he knew it would create a wormhole. Suddenly, the Gorn attack the starbase and kidnap T'Mar. Just as he is about to be beamed back aboard Enterprise, Spock tackles the Gorn Henchman, bringing him aboard the ship. Kirk and Spock pursue him to the shuttlebay before he can commandeer a shuttle. Spock mindmelds with the Henchman, learning Surok was killed after confessing he has no insight into the device, but that his daughter would. Kirk has the Henchman imprisoned.
Kirk resolves to enter the Rip. After Enterprise enters the Gorn's galaxy, Kirk and Spock take a shuttle with Sulu (voiced by John Cho) and Dr. McCoy (Karl Urban) to a nearby planet. When their shuttle is shot down, Kirk and Spock use wingsuits to glide to a Gorn outpost and blow it up before infiltrating a base to rescue T'Mar. They find Daniels, who is killed in an ensuing firefight. The Gorn bring Kirk and Spock to the Commander, who has them taken to an arena to fight his soldiers to the death. Angered by their besting of his champion, the Commander has Spock infected with the virus and pits him against Kirk. Sulu's shuttle arrives and McCoy shoots Spock with an antidote, while the Commander flees to his ship with T'Mar and the device.
The shuttle returns to Enterprise, which has been taken over by the Gorn. Kirk and Spock space dive to engineering and beam McCoy and Sulu back on board. They help Scotty (voiced by Simon Pegg) and Keenser reactivate the warp core, and restore power to sickbay so McCoy can replicate more of the antidote for airborne dispersal. The duo head to the bridge where the Henchman is holding Uhura (voiced by Zoe Saldana) hostage, demanding Kirk give them control of the ship. Kirk responds by directing their shuttle to crash into the view-screen, decompressing the Gorn into space. With only an hour before the Rip closes, Kirk and Spock space dive to the Gorn Commander's ship, where they disable the targeting platform to give Enterprise a fighting chance, and enter the core where T'Mar and the device are being held. Kirk and Spock destroy the device, defeat the Commander, and are beamed back to Enterprise with T'Mar. Enterprise warps back to the Milky Way Galaxy before the Rip closes; in their closing logs, Kirk and Spock state T'Mar has recovered enough to continue working on New Vulcan, and that they have been ordered to Nibiru.