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Space, the final
frontier, bold words that invoke visions of exploration, adventure,
seeking out new worlds and civilizations. To embody the essence of
Star Trek...all of it's years of stories, of history...it's fan
base. It's lightning in a bottle. Cryptic studios took on this
daunting task with some mixed results. Do not let that opening
statement detour you at all. There is a lot of good in the game and
things that may need tweaking, but Cryptic plans on building on the
Star Trek Online universe and making it progressively better.
The game captures some of what Star Trek is, and from the over all
looks holds promise for so much more. Let's dive right in shall we?
At the start of it all, players are greeted with a character
creation screen. Common with many of the MMO's out there. Some of
the cooler things are the ability to drill it down and personalize
the character a bit more. In costume, features, gender, facial
feature, body type. A good thing so every one has some unique
qualities, and not just a bunch of clones.
Once set up off you go . One thing
that's important to mention here is the nice way the events and time
line are justified, or more like legitimized. Thing's are a bit
different here in this world of Star Trek Online. Historical events
are some what different from some of the established time line of
Trek, but what's wicked cool is that Cryptic had the class to have
none other than Leonard Nimoy reprise his highly acclaimed role as
Ambassador Spock... to explain how things came into being as they
are now. The back story actually is perfect, tying the recent reboot
of the franchise with the online game.
The star power does not end there, none other than Zachary Quinto
lends his voice acting chops to the game. He plays an interactive
hologram that assists the player onward in the first few acts of the
games tutorial."Being a part of the Star Trek universe has been an
incredible experience for me,” said Zachary Quinto from a Atari
press release “Extending that experience into the gaming space - and
sharing it with gamers and trek enthusiasts around the world - makes
it even more exciting."
The tutorial and much of the game may put some off, it takes a hold
the players hand and guide them along kind of approach. The guidance
is a good balance though, because it would be more frustrating for a
player, especially a new one, to be thrust into such a game and not
have any direction on what to do at all. So the prompts are very
From the start the player is thrust
into conflict, The Borg are back and causing all kinds of chaos,
worse they seem to be acting differently than any Borg previously
encountered before. A good chunk of the opening events take place
likes acts in a TV show, and also are a form of tutorial walking the
player through the controls of the game, which is a good thing since
they can seem rather daunting at first, but are thankfully rather
simple and too the point in design. Players can get missions through
several sources, some times some one may ask for assistance, or a
Star Fleet Officer may assign you a mission. There are some forms of
rescue missions thus far, but I am hoping for more actual
exploration missions, not just warp to location destroy the bad
guys, or beam to such and such a place... and kill the bad guys.
More exploration , including more diplomatic missions would be
welcome.... and they are there, you just have to play the game to
find them.....it is a time of war , granted, but part of Trek has
always been the whole exploration thing. Some missions may seem
simplistic and repeat, but there are some twists here and there. A
diplomatic mission I went on was not what it seemed. The events
where mixed with some excitement and more ground based battles, and
close to the edge of your teeth battle in space.... what a ride.
These moments shine like a jewel in the galaxy, we can only hope for
One of the most enjoyable mission for me was a simple assist in some
rescue in the middle of a space battle with the Borg. Flying the
ship close to damaged ships and beaming it's surviving crew to my
ship, and then taking them to the medical ship.
Later a missing ship mission also offers some promise. Will it be a
simple they are broke down and out of communication? Will it be a
rescue mission? There are some elements of the unknown here and that
suits the adventure that is Star Trek Online perfectly. The opening
of things with so much combat, worried this writer a little bit....
while it is understood jumping into an all out adventure is better
than a boring tour of a star ship.
There is well over some 40 years of Star Trek to draw from, a simple
space shooter in a Star Trek wrapper is not what we want to see.
Cryptic sprinkles several other mission types through out, including
diplomatic and rescue missions. We suspect there is a lot more to
come...The much wanted diplomatic missions and rescue missions crop
up and round things off pretty nicely. Getting such an ambitious
game up and live is just the first hurdle. Star Trek Online in it's
many nuances has a lot to offer and for just starting out, a
surprisingly fun and at times engaging game.
As an MMO game it feels at times, oddly like a solo game. Even with
other players around you in a space battle, they are on their own
ships and you , yours. The multi-player part of things will shine
even more when the real ROLE players latch onto the game. If we have
to even go into and explain ROLE playing as apposed to ROLL playing,
then you just don't get it.
I did have a couple of offers to join a team, so things are getting
even more interesting with the gamers themselves taking full
advantage of the interactive role playing aspects of the game. So
interaction is there, I suspect being just after the cusp of being
so new, that players are trying to get their space legs on their own
Moving along through missions and completing them, your character
gains experience that can be spent towards improving the characters
abilities. Gaining experience also equates to gains in new rank,
each rank has a certain amount of grades...as the character gains
ranks and accomplices more mission successes, they also have access
and gain bridge crew. Which in turn has to be advanced and trained
by you. It's all very hands on and an enjoyable experience. It's
nice to have a hand in the advancement of your officers.
Advancing through missions also entails
There is also the ability to scan
areas, from either ship sensors or on away missions using your handy
tricorder to scan and collect resources. Progressing through the
game, the player comes across anomalies, a quick scan and they can
pick them up and then in turn use the resources to get new items to
upgrade the character, the crew and the ship. Some items found
actually kind of throw me out of the Star Trek moment, I am sure
they are some Trek fan obscure reference, but the last thing I want
to find after blasting a Klingon warrior is Banana Pancakes.
Combat in the game has an interesting mix, and again, it could not
have been easy for Cryptic to find such an easy choice on how combat
would play out. The space battle mechanics are surprisingly well
done and lends itself very well to the over all Star Trek
experience. Balancing shields and even trying to maneuver to keep
stronger shields towards the enemy, and weaker or damaged shields
protected. All the while trying to damage and punch through their
The ground based, or away missions combat are more of dodge and fire
mechanics or stand and or crouch and fire away. Other than stepping
behind something yourself, there is no take cover command so players
have to be mindful there. Up close and personal there is the option
of bashing or delivering a well placed palm strike to an opponent.
This can have the effect of knocking them back and giving the player
some breathing room for a few moments. Sometimes from phaser fire or
melee attacks an opponent can become stunned for a few
moments...take full advantage of it and finish them off. The ground
combat is not as satisfying as the ship to ship battles at this
point. Space battles start out pretty easy and can lull the player
into feeling that it is overly simplistic and no real challenge. As
the characters level increases so too does the ship combat, and the
Choosing your ships weapons and equipment and even your own Bridge
Officers is well done. Some thought went behind the whole process
and that shines through.
Warping through the expanses of space is accomplished by going
through sectors. Using a sector or to use the well known Trek term
Quadrant map, you first go at impulse speed towards either object or
sector markers. The classic ship warping out animation flashes on
screen and then a load screen precedes the new area loading. Each
block or sector is divided into “Instances”, so if your playing with
a bunch of friends you may not always warp into the same instance.
This may be to assist in keeping the server from overloading so,
while a trade off, it's understood why it's this way.
While at the time it is not the perfect Star Trek game, it's not a
bad start. There are fun moments even with some of the silly ones
that rip you from the moment. We will continue to report on Star
Trek Online over time as it progresses and grows and adds new
Even as I was finishing up some of the gaming for this article Atari
and Cryptic released a new Borg Hub, and a bunch of new assets to go
along with it. The Borg update is the first of many planned post
launch content packages that Cryptic will be releasing. This and
other episodes will be for high level players. This Borg Hub release
are of course Borg themed and reveals what happened within the Borg
civilization between the time of Star Trek : Nemesis and the year
2409. (2409 is the year that Star Trek Online takes place.)
Players can get the chance to face the Borg Queen herself, but they
have to first get to her. Upcoming episodes include :
The Cure - A planet has been completely taken over by the Borg.
Fight them for control of the planet.
Khitomer Accord - Travel back in time and uncover and participate in
the events that led to the release of old Borg you encountered in
the Tutorial Episode.
Into the Hive - Track down a missing Starfleet captain and come face
to face with the new Borg Queen.
Visuals and sounds are a mix, while not
all visuals are perhaps what some would expect, some areas lack any
real detail, the trade off for keeping acceptable frame rates and an
online world moving along with out ungodly lag and crashes. Sure it
would be easy to whine about 'Oh they need to optimize blah blah
blah, for those that whine.... send your applications into Cryptic
since it's so easy and get a job there and fix it yourself. Sounds
are awesome, from phaser and photon firing... really immerses the
player in the gaming world.
My opinion is...I like what I see thus far, Cryptic has some tweaks
to do perhaps and more content coming... but it's a good start. I
look forward to continuing coverage for Star Trek Online. We measure
so much in a game, but the most important is the fun factor...is it
fun? I enjoy the hell out of myself when I am trying the game out
for these articles. So there is some fun there. Try it out, you be
your own judge, if our articles assist you to even try a game that
you may not have even tried and you find you enjoy it....we have
done our jobs. Warp speed my fellow Impulse Gamers.... warp speed.
Have fun, play games