Star Trek Online Boldly Goes *thunk*

I've been watching Star Trek Online since Pertpetual had the game.  In other words, years.  I've belonged to forums, searched for clues to the gameplay, played demo's of Champions Online to get my hands on the engine used for Star Trek Online, and overall, have basically been a rabid fan waiting with drool on my chin for launch day. With a ton of anticipation, I stalked my local gamestop for my Pre-Order Beta key and ran home to download the game files.

It took me a whopping 60 days to cancel my account and put the Collector's Edition box on the shelf.

I love Star Trek.  I 've played most of the stand alone's, the good and bad ones alike, with zeal to be a part of the Star Trek world.  Carrying my phaser, wearing my uniform, being a part of the story is fabulous.

Once I heard the game had been rescued by Cryptic, I was overjoyed.  Finally one of my favorite game franchises was going to get the repect it deserved, and Trekkies the world over could get together and fight for the Federation.

So my disappointment at canceling my account hangs like a dark cloud over my gaming year.

Creating a character in Star Trek Online is one of its best features.  Cryptic excels at character skins.  In fact, you may find yourself spending more than an hour making your character.  You can pick from 9 Federation species including favorites like the Andorians, Betazoids, Humans, Trills and Vulcans.  From the outset, there are a ton of choices.  Faces, bodies, uniforms.  If you find yourself not liking any of the plethora of options available to you, make your own race!  It's perhaps the second best feature of the game, and one that Cryptic historically has excelled and revamped for each of their games.

There are three main class types.  Tactical officers are the "tanks" focusing on combat efficiency.  Engineering officers mainly focus on how to make your ship and crew function better.  Science officers are the healers and debuffers.

Once you have worked out all of the details and named your first ship, prepare to enjoy the eye candy.  The tutorial does an adequate job of teaching you the basics of both ground and space combat.

Don't get too excited just because you are seeing the inside of this initial ship.  It's never going to happen again.  Currently, you are able to visit the bridge of your own ship.  Cryptic has commented that they would like to make other parts of your ship available to you, but at this time you are stuck standing around your bridge with nothing to do but stare at the blank view screen.  It sucks.

You'll  get your first bridge officer in the tutorial.  You can grow your crew as you'd like, and the bridge officer's can be customized as well.  Feel free to change their appearance, upgrade them as you see fit, or fire one you don't like and get another.

The new opening movie is fantastic.  I have included it below for your viewing pleasure.  Hearing Leonard Nimoy's voice through my headset had me smiling and excited to enter the epic story venturing where no man has gone before as a new untried Captain earning her way.

By far the best feature in this game is Space combat.  It's stunning.  Your ship is completely customizable from its color right down to the components you choice to outfit her with.  Be sure to upgrade as you earn credits to trade.  You can have cannons, forward phasers, disruptors, etc.  There are a zillion ways you can make your ship all your own.    The space graphics left me breathless.  I found myself flying through missions looking everywhere at the detail.

Once you reach Lieutenant Commander you will be given a choice of three ships; escort, science and cruiser.  Pick carefully.  I stuck with a science ship for my science captain, but its totally up to you.  Escort ships are heavily armed and armored, but lack much medical capability.  Science ships lack the big guns and armor, but have fabulous buffs and debuffs.  Cruisers are huge and have their advantages in more weapons slots, large warp cores and huge crews.

space combat
space combat

Ground combat, on the other hand, is perhaps the clunkiest limp noodle I have ever seen in a finished game.  It's horrid.  From the first time you step onto a planet, you are going to wonder if they let a child paint the landscapes.  I couldn't even muster up a smile for the ugly flowers which are dotted around like globs of paint.  You will find your character moves oddly, the world around you is nothing special to look at, and you aren't even going to enjoy firing your phaser overly much.  It's been terrible since beta, and apparently wasn't high on Cryptic's list of fixes.  You are going to wish you were a red shirt and could either die quickly or be stuck on your ship.

ground combat
ground combat

Moving from mission to mission is made possible by the sector map.  It's pretty bad, but its what you're stuck with.  Learning the ins and outs of the mapping system is essential to not wanting to pull all your hair out.  Press "M" to open the map and sort it via the options.  If you are like me and can't seem to stop yourself from crashing into the myriad of ships on the map, double click the system of your choice and your ship will auto-fly.


Another hint I'll give you.  Turn off Auto grouping.  If you don't, every time you enter a mission you are going to be joined by people, some of which are total wankers.  There is no voice chat in the game, so unless you are really a fast typer, communicating with your party while in Space Combat is going to occur while your ship is taking damage or flying into a sun.  Besides, you really don't need these people stealing your anonymolous readings.

As I approached hour thirty of gameplay, I had figured out there were really only a handful of missions.  They are recycled ad nauseum.  Kill five enemy ships, scan something, maybe a token ground battle.   The lack of mission styles leaves you feeling the grind by level 8 or so.  I was begging for something new to do.  Even after transferring sector maps to see if there was a change, I found myself killing 5 enemy ships and scanning. *headbutts her desk*

Fleet mission's are a free for all.  I never truly understood these.  You zone in with a bunch of other ships, are overwhelmed by enemies and try and survive.  You are going to die, but no worries, you have maybe an 8 second time out before you are resurrected.  There is no down side to dying in the game, so I simply didn't worry about it.

PVP involves making a new character once you reach level 6.  You will be a part of the Klingon's force.  You will have the choice between Orion, Nausicaan, Lethean, Gorn and Klingon.  The content is limited.  In all honestly, you are kinda monster play cannon fodder for the federation.  I'd write more about it, but there truly isn't anything else that can be said.

Overall the game is shallow.  It lacks any real coherent story.  In short, the writing stinks.  Space combat is fun, but after the 40th time you've killed some ships, you're going to want some variety.  Ground combat is sucktastic.  I haven't even talked about the token "crafting" which is worse than DDO's, and that's saying something.

I wanted to love this game, and I stuck with it an extra month hoping something was going to pull me in.  I canceled with a heavy heart and hope I can revisit the game after a year or so and find it more finished.