Star Trek Online PC Review - -

Gameplay 8.5
Graphics 9.5
Sound 9.0
Value 9.5
Developer: Cryptic Studios
Atari / Namco Bandai
Review Date:
September 2010
Donna Millheim


Star Trek Online
(A Special Revisit Review)

Game reviewed on an Alienware system

Check out Alienware at

So, my wife Donna comes to me and says, hey I want to take a look at Star Trek Online and do a Revisit Review of the game from a Role Players perspective. Of course, that is a great idea. Therefore, I tell her of course, no tribble at all. Have at it. Here is Donna Millheim’s Revisit Review on Star Trek Online.

Edwin Millheim
United States Editor Impulse Gamer

I'm a Star Trek "Original Series" fan, I admit it. I am old school, and can quote lines from The Trouble with Tribbles with a straight face. I have watched the movies, sure, but as for the TV Shows "Post-Shatner", I only know enough to get myself in trouble. The Cardassian race has something to do with Star Trek, but it's after my time. So it was with trepidation that I finally asked Edwin if I could check out the Star Trek Online game, having watched him in various ship-to-ship combats and planet side excursions. The game is gorgeous on an Alienware PC connected to a wall-sized flat-screen TV. Total eye candy. Mwaah: Full Stop. I do not often drool over a game by looks alone, but my Star Trek background made me curious enough to take a look.

I just realized that you might be wondering who the heck this new person is? I'm Edwin Millheim's other half. The Yin to his Yang. The editor to his writer. The night to his day... well, you get the drift. He is the flight sim geek; I am the role-player. He loves to write; I detest it (which is why I am usually invisible, and I like it that way). However, I wanted to check out this game enough that I agreed to offer up my views on some of the things he might not focus on, like player interaction and the like. Write this one on your calendar, heh. It does not happen often.

So I started playing on our Alien, on the big TV in the living room. To get a really good feel for the game, though (Edwin kept wanting to play other stuff, the nerve!), I soon realized that I needed to switch over to the computer I use the most, which happens to be a Dell laptop. I admit I was a bit uneasy trying to run this graphic-muncher game on my little baby, but the solar systems were just as gorgeous on the laptop. In case you are wondering, the laptop is a Dell XPS M1530 (2.5 GHz), with 2 gigs of RAM. I had to clear off some stuff from the hard drive, but that will teach me to buy a computer with a small hard drive.

The character generator is extensive. I could envision my totally personalized Vulcan science officer standing on the bridge of her ship, hands clasped behind her back, her white-and-violet uniform making her distinctive inside the white-and-violet hull of her Federation Escort. The designers have clearly placed thought in the character generator, encouraging all shapes, sizes, and colors of humanoid and alien alike.

So, what is the verdict when first joining the game? It is clear, even several months after Edwin's first review that the game is growing in many directions. The expansion appears well balanced, and I continually found new surprises as I bounced from one side of the map to the other.

The menus were a bit confusing at the beginning, especially without a printable list of keyboard shortcuts. I am deeply entrenched in the "it ought to be playable without an instruction manual" camp. After a number of fits and starts, I ended up typing up the commands from the help menu into a file, and using that as reference to start. Quickly enough, it was clear that I had wasted my time. The basic keyboard commands really are pretty simple and I only used my cheat sheet for a short time.

As for player interaction, the commands are simple, fairly well fleshed out, and not in your face. The chat window conceals a huge list of detailed commands that can be executed by simply pressing the Enter key, a slash (/), and then the command. Icons lead to menus which are in general pretty easy to use. I found an occasional annoyance here and there with delays, but found it all-in-all quite acceptable.

The User Interface (known as the UI) is customizable; a couple of menu clicks leads to a simple representation of where each menu is, and these boxes can be moved around and resized at will. Icons on the UI can be adjusted, changed, and reshaped.

Advancement in the game is continuous, rather than episodic. Both your character and the crewmembers on the ship can advance their skills while completing various tasks. Additional abilities are gained by crewmembers that depend on the rank of the ship captain; I found that pretty interesting. You can promote your crewmembers in rank, which gives them access to more skills and equipment. Neat idea, that. I found myself giving crewmembers all the combat skills, while my captain character was a healer with good armor. The ship is almost a crewmember in its own right, and I had a lot of fun tweaking its weapons, shields, and the various science, engineering and tactical consoles that provide space combat buffs.

So what about role-players? I can see tremendous potential for growth here and hope to see the developers take advantage of the fan base. A "put it on screen" command, enabling the player to see an image of who he or she is talking to, (private conversation, anyone?) would be a nice tweak. Anything to encourage gamers to actually get into their characters, rather than discussing what is on television that night will enhance the experience.

Hrmm. I am not sure that it would be possible to align the entire game to a purist role-playing standpoint, though, but perhaps there is a way to allow role-players to have their own areas where they have the opportunity and are not discouraged by out-of-game chat? I note that this game is instance-heavy; perhaps each Sector could have one dedicated instance where the role-players can indicate a preference to land there each time? Once headed in this direction, it's a simple matter of offering rewards to those who role-play, to keep the ball rolling.

One of the weaknesses of young games like this is that the game must stand on its own and cannot rely on player interaction to keep customers interested. It's very common to only see a few members of your Fleet (friends) while you are in the game, and they might be Admirals while you are exploring with your lowly Lieutenant. The game is definitely finding this balance, and it's a good thing. I had no trouble finding enough to keep me exploring, and I found it interesting enough that I kept coming back, though not enough to be thinking about it in my off hours. So it is a good game but not crazy-addictive like some games that remain unmentioned. This puts the game in the middle of the field. It has a ways to go, but it is beginning to stand on its own.

Then there are tribbles. Early on, I figured out that tribbles could be used to buff (enhance) your crewmembers, so I put a tribble in each crewmember’s inventory. Then I started finding food. Hey! Put the food with the crewmember as well! They can use it to heal themselves after battles! Great idea, except each time I put food with a crewmember, the first bit would disappear. Huh? I figured the crewmember was healing with the food, so I always had a second bit of food ready.

I'm wondering, did the developers plan to take advantage of a poor sap like me who couldn't figure out why I kept ending up with more tribbles than I remembered picking up?

It was not until later that I learned you could actually breed certain types of tribble and end up with better, more powerful tribbles. I learned soon enough the pitfalls of putting a single powerful tribble in with a pile of expensive food (and then forgetting about it). You do not end up with a bunch of more powerful tribbles; you end up with one more powerful tribble and a pile of pitiful little not-powerful tribbles. Never set a tribble loose in a store of quadrotriticale. Expensive mistake, that.

Anyway... I would not be a good Vulcan without bidding you a "Live Long and Prosper." Have a good one!

Check out Star Trek Online for your self… here

Donna Millheim
United States Writer Impulse Gamer



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