â‚¬â„¢m going to come right out and say this now, in the hope that doing so will deter you from leaving unsavoury comments in the forums regarding this preview: I don’t care for
Star Trek. In truth, I’m a Star Wars guy. I like Lightsabers, force powers, Jedi battles, and bad-guys that can strangle you from across the dining table without having to
leave their seat. I don’t like pointy ears, split infinitives, or skin-tight body suits on older males. It an each-to-their-own scenario for the most part, though
I mention it now as a disclaimer should you feel unhappy with the preview you are about to read, and attempt to pin the findings on my lack of enthusiasm for the source
material. I don’t care for Star Trek, but that offers no bearing on my judgement of Star Trek Online. I didn’t care for that for another reason entirely. Let
me tell you about it.
latest title from developers Cryptic Studios, the team that bought you Champions Online a few months ago, and City of Heroes/Villains back in 2005. Like
Champions Online, Star Trek Online begins by assaulting players with a magnificent character customisation toolkit, beginning with choosing a faction (The
Federation is the only available option to begin with, though later in the game the Klingon become available), a race from a range of different species or by creating your
own, and ending with almost limitless customisation options ranging from hair and eye colour, all the way to uniform type and head deformities. Also like Champions Online,
Star Trek Online uses the Cryptic Studio in-house game engine. Most of my issues with Star Trek Online are largely a result of exactly that.
veritable feast for the eyes. Everything from the font style to the character models fit the superhero genre perfectly, and I reserve nothing but praise for it now unto the
end of days. Using it for a Star Trek title… well, I just can’t abide that. It feels cheap, to be frank, and it looks a lot like a Champions with a Star Trek paint
job. That my first issue with the Star Trek Online engine. The second is far more game-breaking.
build is a beta release, and too, understand the inherent difficulties that come included with such a package, the current state of Star Trek Online is, in a word,
abysmal. Graphics and frame-rate issues bordering unplayable, technical glitches in almost every aspect of the game, severe login issues and more bugs than my garden shed are
just some of the issues inflicting Star Trek Online right now; and horrifyingly, they’re less than two weeks from release. Why is this such a big deal? Well, because
they’re using the same engine they used for Champions. One would imagine that the lack of innovation shown here in terms of style would have amounted to a perfect
release; in reality, we received the polar opposite. It simply doesn’t make sense, and it makes it incredibly difficult to review.
how it plays. The gameplay in Star Trek Online is split into two different categories, ground and space. On the ground, as mentioned above, it looks and plays a lot like
Champions with a new coat of Star Trek coloured paint. Talk to NPCs, complete mundane quests, shoot bad-guys with lazer rifles. It all… underwhelming. ‘Beam
up’ to your ship however, and you’ll be playing another game entirely.
fortunately, they make up a large part of the game as a whole. In space, you’ll be commanding your own ship; complete with a crew hand-picked by you and designed from the
ground up to suit your individual play-style. I say commanding because that exactly what you’ll be doing. If you were expecting high-octane space blasting action at
three-hundred-parsecs-per-minute, then you’re looking in the wrong place. Instead, the space battles in Star Trek Online play out much more like the ship battles did
in Pirates of the Burning Sea; that is, slowly. You move slowly, turn slowly, and fire slowly; and as a result, at times it can become quite stagnant. Fortunately, when
the battles are in progress it hard to imagine anything more enjoyable. In a nutshell, your ship is surrounded on all sides by a regenerative shield that protects you from
taking hull damage; however, should your shields take too much damage on one side, you’ll leave your hull exposed. Thus, it your job to simultaneously rotate your ship
(or divert power to the side taking the most damage) in order to prevent being destroyed, while also trying to line up your firing line of sight with your enemies shields. It
sounds complicated, but it an amazing amount of fun in short bursts, made even better by the ability for random players to join your ‘space battle instance’ whenever
they choose, and vice-versa.
planet, forcing you to choose an ‘Away Team’ from the officers aboard your ship, and descend into mindless MMO monotony once more. Thankfully, the combat on the ground
isn’t as unpleasant as it easily could have been, and there are a range of different weapons, skills and strategies that can be employed when you’re down there. If only
the quests weren’t so horrifically… samey.
Klingons. Unlike The Federation faction outlined above, Klingons are primarily a PvP faction, and from what we’ve heard it through PvP alone that they increase in rank
and progress through the game. For us, this is the most exciting feature we’ve seen in Star Trek Online thus far, as it opts to offer a fresh gaming experience that
might just provide it with the innovation it so desperately requires.