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Star Trek Online (PC – Preview)

Star Trek Online (PC – Preview)

Star Trek Online Full Review HERE – February 2010

The Star Trek franchise is still massively popular and developer Cryptic Studios are hoping that by involving such a rich and diverse fantasy world they will get a huge portion of the game playing public interested in their new virtual Sci-Fi based MMO universe.

Star Trek Online is set during the time scale of the original ‘classic’ Star Trek history and takes place twenty years after the events that pushed Spock back in time – mirroring the recent movie to a certain extent. The universe is in absolute chaos with Romulus having been destroyed and the Cardassian Union in a total state of disarray. The Borg are back in full attack mode and are attempting to assimilate everyone in their path and to complicate matters the Klingons are at war with the Federation.

Players can take the role of either a Klingon or Federation captain and they can progress through the galaxy as they want, taking diplomatic stances or preferring to use more aggressive tactics if they wish. Like many MMO’s players are not forced to complete the main storyline elements of the game but those wanting to see this will play through a series of adventures called “episodes” with active content presented in much the same way you would experience via a television show. It is a cool idea, because one ‘week’ you would be in a space battle with an enemy race and the next you would be escorting an important dignitary to a planet for a political conference. Each of these episodes is tuned for up to five people to play together and the missions incorporate AI and unit scaling so if you only have a few players then the game will scale down accordingly to make it competitive but not impossible. At the end of a series of missions there is a ‘season ender’ which normally will require a larger fleet to complete. Taking on a few Borg vessels for instance requires a lot of Federation firepower.

Before the game really evolves however you are given the tasks of building your ship and choosing your direction. You start out with a light cruiser and you are then given the option to determine what kind of ship you want to command from a full on battle cruiser to a science ship. When this process is completed you are given the opportunity to dramatically alter the default configuration, so you can alter the material it is made from or even change the locations of the nacelles. While the initial selection of choosing your main vessel means your characters will get bonuses for commanding that ship, you can later change the ship to another unit.

Obviously the ship you command means that the staff operating it will vary. Every ship has slots (seats) for Engineering, Tactical and Science officers however depending on the classification of the vessel specific officers will be more in demand than others. Science Vessels for instance don’t need many (if any) tactical officers for combat. These seats are used by the AI to affect the performance of your vessel so if they aren’t filled correctly then you can expect your overall crew performance to be poor. We were told that there would be literally hundreds of these skillsets via the plethora of crew members involved.

We had some game time with STO a week or so ago and while it was still in a beta phase the combat algorithms are shaping up very nicely, you feel like you are actually in command of a futuristic space faring vessel. You use the WASD keys to move the ship, much like you would do in a first person shooter and the mouse is used at the same time to alter the ships configuration for the combat dynamic. Phaser arrays and photon torpedoes are used like you would see in the movies, to strip away shields and to cause specific point damage to disable or disarm some vessels. There are quite a few strategy elements given to the player as well, because if you are fighting a slower moving but strong ship you want a lot of power given to the shields (for your own defense) and torpedo array. Faster ships need to be dealt with by increasing maneuverability and phaser power to strip away their shields for the final kill. Presets are given for speed or you can manually control everything on the fly as you do battle.

The MMO elements seem to be shaping up nicely as you can interact with all your crew members and even take control of them in hand to hand combat situations. All players get options to select a crew to their personal desires and from all the races which align with your given race. If the historical Trek database isn’t giving you enough freedom for choice then you can make your own race, create their look and even their history and other features. Once this is done and you are happy with the end result you can then save them and incorporate them into the entire universe as a living breathing species.

With the launch time frame set at February/March 2010 we are excited that this could actual be one of the big surprise hits next year. Star Trek fans are eagerly awaiting the experience and GamingHeaven will be here to report on it when we get any updates.

About Author

Stuart Davidson

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