Star Trek Online Will Thrill Fans, Satisfy Gamers
- Thursday, April 15, 2010
If first impressions of Star Trek Online are any indication of what is to come, then Cryptic Studios has delivered a game that will make many people very happy.
I'm one of those people.
I've been waiting for a good Star Trek game since I don't know when. After World of Warcraft came out, my first thought was, "The Star Trek universe would make a great MMORPG (Mass Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game). Somewhere in the vast expanses of space, time, and thought someone from Cryptic must have heard me.
This game has only been out a matter of weeks, so any impressions I speak about in this article are very much first impressions. In MMORPGs, playing for a few weeks is generally equal to playing the tutorial in a normal game. You spend the first month or so figuring out the system, experimenting with skills and abilities, and ultimately starting over again and again with new characters in an effort to mold your perfect "first" character to stick with for months/years to come.
Like most role playing games, Star Trek Online (STO) has an in-depth character creation system. You select what kind of officer you want to be, whether it be Tactical, Engineering or Science. Tactical officers are combat-centered, where as Engineering officers concentrate primarily on enhancing weapons and ship equipment. Science officers weaken foes, buff allies, and heal as well. Choose one and then the customization begins.
In keeping with the Star Trek universe, you can choose between several races including Human, Andorian, Vulcan, Betazoid, and Trill. Or, create your very own race by using hundreds of various face and body change settings. Regardless of your choice, you have an army of editing tools that allow you to truly design a custom character. Beyond design, different races have different characteristics that influence their abilities while in a ship or on the ground. Typically, most race characteristics give boosts to ground abilities. For instance, a Vulcan character has access to the "Mind Meld" ability, which allows them to make an attack while on the ground that not only hurts your foe, but confuses them as well.
After choosing your character's abilities and appearance you can choose their uniform design and colors, and then select a name. There's also space to create a formal name (a character's full name) and biography.
Creating a character is only the beginning. Throughout the tutorial and into the game, you may pick up, train, promote, and fire crew. These crew members, know as Bridge Officers, come with various abilities that will give the entire group boosts both in ground combat and in space. Differing abilities , so it's important to consider what kind of crew you want to have with you on away-team missions (on the ground) and in space combat. For instance, during missions in which I'm slightly outnumbered, my Vulcan Science Bridge Officer has a handy ability I can use to boost my shields and shield regeneration, keeping me alive long enough to win the battle.
There are various kinds of missions that you and your crew embark upon in STO. These missions take place on your own ship, other ships, space stations, and planet surfaces. You'll find yourself patrolling the asteroid belt around a planet, chasing off Klingons who are harassing miners, and then beaming down to the planet surface to help a settlement regain power to their shields.
Beyond patrolling specific systems, ships can visit sector space where warping entire light years takes only a matter of seconds. These areas are your primary feeding ground early on. Sector space is full of missions, trading opportunities, big fleet instances, and more. While traveling to a system you might get called to help the Federation resist a Klingon attack on Starbase 24, or answer a distress call in the Una System.
Controlling one's ship and one's character on the ground is surprisingly similar. I think this was a great choice by Cryptic. The controls to move your ship and character around are practically the same. Thanks to the simple key mapping of abilities (keys 1-0 and then some) as in most MMORPGs, battle is familiar in both situations.
In STO, you begin your star trek as an ensign, the newbie rank of a naval officer. You level up to Lieutenant, Lieutenant Commander and so forth until you reach Admiral. In other games you gain experience points while playing and eventually gain enough experience to level, allowing you to unlock skills you can buy. In STO, you gain skills points all along. This allows you to buy new skills and level up current skills of your character and/or Bridge Officers. Once you've spent a certain number of skill points, you are promoted. In short, in STO, your skills increase all along, not just when you level.
Cryptic definitely made this game with core Star Trek fans in mind. It's not the type of game that will reach out to random fan bases and tease people with promises of a better gaming experience. I wouldn't go as far as to say it is better than any other MMORPG I've played. The fact that it's Star Trek is what is important. I can get into just about any Fantasy/Sci-fi universe, but being able to play in the Star Trek world is a special treat for the long-time fan. And while this game might pull some extra players because of the recent Star Trek movie (amazing, by the way), most of its players were fervent fans before the latest movie.
Simply put, if you are a Star Trek fan, you will love this game. If you are not a Star Trek fan, but looking for something fun to play, this game is as fun as any other MMORPG. I found nothing inappropriate with this game to date, so I recommend for all ages. The fantasy violence is not bloody, and characters simply fall and disappear when defeated. Ships do explode in a fire ball. I have yet to encounter any mildly suggestive themes, though they are mentioned in the rating.
(Inf Rated T for Teen | Fantasy Violence, Mild Suggestive Themes)
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