Star Trek Online Review: Space is the Final Frontier
By Vincent Haoson (Vincenthaoson), OnRPG Journalist
Ever since I first watched my first Star Trek series (ST: Next Generation) I’ve always had the desire to have the chance to become part of Starfleet. In fact, that desire was rekindled by the recent Star Trek movie that was released in 2009. Star Trek Online seemed to be the solution for my long awaited Trekkie fix, and I was not disappointed.
The game starts off similarly to the series. Leonard Nimoy voices over as Spock and tells you the current situation of Starfleet command, which is pretty much stretched to its limit because of the different situations brought upon by the Borg, Klingons and the Romulans. Starting your journey puts you in the position where you are the only remaining officer on your ship. This is a pretty convenient way of putting you in the captain’s chair but it thoroughly cements the story-line problem this will eventually cause.
The game pretty much gives you the whole idea of what a Starfleet Commander does and provides a myriad of missions that stem from your responsibilities as a ship captain. Starting off is pretty easy due to the help of the game tutorial but as I progressed it felt that I should’ve taken a Starfleet course because there are a LOT of things to figure out in the game.
Your Ship, Sir
The easiest thing you need to learn in Star Trek Online is the ship controls. This is done with the keyboard or in combination, if you choose, with your mouse. I appreciate that the ships you command in the game feel like big ships. Turning your ship takes time and there are times where the controls seem to be pretty unresponsive. However, this works with the game because you are commanding a big ship and not just some fighter.
Your ship comes with specific “settings” where you can augment its stats to suit what you require it to do. You can set it to speed, defense, balanced and attack. Changing these stats means that your ships “energy” is allocated to one category hereby weakening your ships other capabilities. One good example was when I was going against a Klingon Bird of Prey and another ship. I had difficulties eliminating the two (I almost got myself killed) when normally this isn’t much of a problem, I then realized that I had put my ship into the speed setting and when I did revert it to attack– my phasers cut through them like hot knife through butter.
Speaking of battles, I had my hopes that ship battles in Star Trek online would be able to deliver my desire to have the same type of space battles I often see in Star Trek movies. I was not disappointed. Space battles in STO are pretty intense, especially in some missions where you are surrounded by 3-4 ships all pummeling you with phasers, photon torpedoes and whatever they have in their arsenal. Attacking is easily done through the keyboard. What I liked about the game’s battle system is that you have to angle in to be able to use a ship weapon. Some weapons provide you with250, 180or a smaller arc so it does take some maneuvering and military tactics to pull off some attacks.
Controlling your ship provides you with enough depth to make it feel like you are a captain. However, ships are just half of the fun in STO because you can also get to beam down to worlds (Yes, you read it right! There’s an Away team too in STO).
STO offers you the opportunity to beam down into instances where you get to face enemies with your away team. I was chuckling like mad when I got to beam down with my away team which was composed of three of my officers and two red shirts (yeah guess who got killed?). The ground battles in STO are similar to the usual battles of other MMORPGs however in STO you have a group NPCs to support you as you go.
The NPCs you have can either be support or attack oriented. They can help you by activating their specific set of ground skills that are natural to their class (They also have space oriented skills that can bolster your space battles as well).
Your Character, Captain
One difference in STO in regards to your character is that you don’t have levels. What the game has instead is ranks and to advance through them you have to invest on your skills. The philosophy behind this is that a Starfleet Captain should be pretty well versed to be able to do his job. So the whole idea is that you are given a blank character that you yourself will be building up depending on your preferred style of play.
How you build your character is true to the concept of a person’s advancement in the Star Trek universe. I personally liked this way of doing things because it really appeals to the Trekkies who will be playing the game. The problem though is that some of those who venture into the game will find this pretty weird especially if you don’t have any background knowledge of Star Trek.
Speaking of being familiar to Trekkies, the game has a lot of Easter Eggs that you can unlock through the purchase of points. They include ships skins and designs which you’ll be able to access in the later stages. You can also purchase iconic costumes hailing from old Star Trek movies such as the Starfleet costume from ST: Wrath of Khan or even the Starfleet uniform from Star Trek the Next Generation. The game is also home to familiar structures, characters and even places that you only get to hear as you watch the Star Trek. You even get your own copy of the star map so that you can familiarize yourself on the various systems and sectors that the Star Trek universe has.
Overall, I loved my experience with Star Trek Online. As a fan (I can’t get to call myself a Trekkie because I don’t have enough Star Trek knowledge to be considered one), the game provides a lot of things that can make you giddy as hell. The game has enough rope for those who are not really familiar with the universe but have watched the recent movie to be able to at least get a grasp on the game.
The only problem with the game comes if you are not really into the whole Star Trek and space bit. STO has masterfully imagined the world of Star Trek so you get to experience not only the epicness of everything but also the boredom of traveling in space. Yes the battles are fun and exciting however getting to those places is quite a different thing all together. It makes me wonder how Starfleet people enjoy space when it’s just blackness all the way through.
For Star Trek fans this is a must play- I find it rare for a game to truly encompass everything the source material stands for. While those who don’t have a clue about Star Trek may enjoy the game for a while, but the sheer scope of the game can turn you off. However, if you want to at least know why Star Trek is so epic then you should give STO a try.
– You can choose to be either a member of Starfleet or the Klingon Armada
– You get to explore the different areas that you only heard about through the Star Trek series or movies
– There are quite a few familiar faces and characters from the series in the game
– Players who are not familiar with the Star Trek universe may be overwhelmed
– Exploration can really tire you out
– There’s too much space for new players