Star Trek Online – STO: The Trekkie Universe as a Sci-Fi-MMOG with tactical space battles!
A Preview from RandyRun.
Star Trek Online (Abbreviation: STO) by Cryptic is well on its way to becoming an MMOG of the highest fun-factor – if it sticks to the standards it’s promising! The fun starts while creating the character: if you chose federation, you can (among others) be Human, Andorian, Bajoran, Bolian, Vulcan or Ferengi. On the side of the Klingons you could those other races. You can, however, create and play your very own race!
Highlight 1: Endless possibilities by creating your own species.
This game tops even NCSoft’s Aion, which already seems to throw itself beyond the limits of physical and physiognomic adaptability: Skin color with three color layers und innumerable patterns; organic and technical growths; an absolutely crazy amount of different forms for different body parts, like for example, two, three, four, or even eight (Noses!) slide controllers for the perfect adjustment of anatomy and clothing styles! Cryptic sets new standards in this field – of course, one can see the producers had taken the possibilities in “Champions Online” further und adapted them perfectly to Star Trek. Your fantasy has free rein.
The choice of character class is less plentiful – exactly three classes are available for the choosing: Scientist, Engineer, and Tactician. They were actually able to pull off the delicate introduction of the usual MMORPG character classes into the Star Trek universe: A damage dealer (Tactician), healer and tank (Engineer), as well as buff and debuff supporter (scientist). The choice of ships is equally appropriate: Would you prefer a research ship (support)? Quick escort ships (agile damage dealers)? Or would you rather be able to take it instead of dishing it out with a cruiser (tank)? The visually appealing make up of your own ship can really be a lot of fun – doesn’t seem to have much impact on the game itself however. Cryptic could do a bit more improving in that area!
Story and Game play – A mix of conventional and creative
The background story of STO takes the cue where the film Star Trek Nemesis left off – that is, about 30 years later. True Trekkiedom is not a necessity to understand the plot of the game. The plot is actually quite typical of MMOGs: At every corner and end of the universe, conflicts have broken out, not to mention the former alliance between the Federation and Klingons just barely avoided open confrontation. One neat feature is the ability to directly influence the happenings in the STO universe and thus keep the gaming universe in motion. We’re keeping an eye out to see if Cryptic can actually set that idea into practice!
The game takes place on two planes. Either you fly through space in your ship (the 3d starry map is wonderfully convenient and assures dense space atmosphere), or you move your avatar through the space stations or planets. The start is quite promising: The quick-paced tutorial eases the transition into the game very smoothly. The thought that the game might be too hard or the necessity to join with other players is light-years away. So a soft and beginners-friendly start with real action. By the way: The quests are given out via sub-space radio. The annoying run here and there to some quest NPCs is therefore completely out.
Highlight 2: Space battles for tacticians with quick fingers and the ability to keep a good overview!
The space battles are the second central feature of STO. They prove to be substantially more challenging and innovative than the set up of ground missions in other MMOGs. Though you can, during ground skirmishes or (while storming enemy ships) on board enemy ships, make use of tactic finesses like flank attacks, melee strikes, headlong dives, or a large variety of special talents, the main event takes place in outer space.
The space battles are not only chock full of awesome special effects, it’s the tactic depth that elicits a real Star Trek feeling. Instead of “actions per minute” rushing, well thought out actions are necessary: Where should I direct the energy? Should I fortify the deflectors? Use energy weapons? If you concentrate on one side of an enemy ship, you can break through its hull much quicker, but are more susceptible to damage yourself. Can you outmaneuver your opponents? Sometimes you’ll need to switch tactics on a moment’s notice. The special abilities of your captain avatar and your bridge officers can be paramount to survival. In the fleets, however, the real potential is abounds and the MMOG fun can really get going!
Who is Star Trek Online for?
For all of you who can’t stand the sight of any more dragons and elves. For all of you who are awaiting another great sci-fi MMOG! For all of you who have been waiting for a successful Star Trek computer game, but have been disappointed! For all of the aforementioned, STO will be the hit of the year. This doesn’t only pay for itself for Trekkies – as long as you can let STO off for focusing the plot on militant confrontations (and not on diplomacy and research, the way it is on the TV series). A good MMOG, where battles and the race to get equipment does not occur? That sort of game has yet to make an appearance…