Star Trek Online
Reviewed: 06/11/2010

Stardate 85365… blah blah, okay guys it’s Star Trek Online.  Let’s not pretend you don’t know what Star Trek is and see how Cryptic’s new MMORPG iteration of the world holds up.

This game was relesed in February but has since received a big patch patch (“Season” 1.2) and the next “season” coming up next month, so this is an excellent time to look at the game since much of the initial concerns and complaints have been addressed.

For the Trek fans out there, the Klingons are at war with the Federation, the Borg have started invading and of course there is a healthy dose of trouble from the Romulan Empire and Cardassians and such.  The two playable factions in Star Trek Online are the Federation and the Klingon with the Federation having a wide variety of races to choose from.  All of the races you’d assume are there from Human, Vulcan, and Andorian as well as some pay to play races such as the Ferengi or Federation Klingon.  Progression is similar to other stat based MMOs but instead of earning experience you will receive individual and bridge officer skill points to assign to a large variety of skills.  Each skill will range in level from 0-9 and become more powerful or potent the more skill points you invest in them.  Promotions to different ranks, Lieutenant to Lt. Commander for example, happen after every 10 grades within a rank and after enough skill points have been spent on your character.

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More like Turkey of Prey, Am I right?t

Gameplay is a mixture of styles from ground based to space based combat and missions each with its own strength and weaknesses.  The majority of your time will be spent in your ship, which you can change and upgrade as you progress in rank, in space.  Space battles and missions are easily the highlight of the game.  Players must be aware of their surroundings and navigate their ship in around 3d space while in combat vying for position or an edge on their opponent.  Damage dealt and received in space will affect one of the four sides of the ship with shield strength being independent on each side.  This causes players to focus on repositioning and trying to maintain an optimum location for battle while also keeping in mind commands to strengthen one direction of your shield while weakening another.  Along with your own abilities from your character commanding the ship are your bridge officers.  These NPCs are a vital point in your ship and allow great customization as each comes with their own set of skills and traits that can help your efforts and it is crucial to find the right combination to use.

The ships come in multiple classes clumped together in terms of Science Vessel, Escort, and Cruisers each with different abilities and niche uses.  This combined with your characters initial officer class choice of Science, Tactical, or Engineer can lead to interesting combinations as your ship is not dependent on your captains training.  It is possible to take an Engineer who has better ability manipulating and bolstering your shield in battle into a science vessel with the greatest shield capacities for great effect for example.  The missions one would find in space are much to be expected, some fetch based or fedex missions but the majority of space missions, or “episodes” as Star Trek Online calls them, are battles or exploratory/research missions.  These are by far the most entertaining and rewarding experiences in the game and seem to be the most polished.

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I’ve got to stop meeting woman of Craig’s List

Which brings us over to the grand based away team part of Star Trek Online, unfortunately this area does not feel nearly as polished or well made as space.  On away missions Star Trek Online handles much more like a typical MMORPG where you and the rest of your team (either other players you’ve teamed up with or your bridge officer NPCs) will beam down to a planet or some other facility for a mission.  These missions nearly always involve combat and this is where Star Trek Online falters the most, it’s land based combat is simple, derivative, and just plain I get tired of it boring.  You will have access to up to 2 weapons as well as a series of skills that you’ve learned or that are imbued on you by your tactical suit or personal kit you decide to wear.  These skills will range from various attack abilities to buffs/debuffs and healing abilities, but at the end of the day it still comes back to dull.  For maximum fun play as little on the ground as possible.

There is faction based PvP in Star Trek Online is available in certain areas of the game in unclaimed territories of space and consensual PvP.  There is also competitive PvE that occurs between the borders of the Federation and Klingon Empire known as the Neutral Zone.  All of which is optional and adds little to the core game which is a PvE centric game, however, the Klingon faction ships are much better suited to PvP and can often times take on multiple Federation ships at a time making it very difficult to win an even match up as a Federation player.

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And so Kirk discovers the Zerg!

The graphics in Star Trek Online are nothing mindblowing but they get the job done.  I’m much more impressed with the space graphics and the openness of it, though admittedly it would be the easiest to fudge, than the ground graphics which seem much less vibrant.  The music and sound are excellent replications of what a fan would be used to hearing and easy on the ears.  The background music is nice and does a decent job of setting the mood but also being forgettable and fading away.

Who shoud get this? Those you would answer “yes” to at least two of these three questions:
-Do you prefer sci-fi to fantasy? 
-Do you like the Star Trek franchise or world? 
-Can you deal with some parts of your game being annoying for the payoff of others? 
If you answered yes to at least two of those I’d certainly give the game a deeper look.  With the “Season 2” update coming out in July now might be the best time to think about giving it a start.  If you answered yes to 1 or none of the questions above then it’s probably best if you hold off, unless you’re just a die hard Trekkie.

-Michael Wayland

Score Breakdown
Out of 10
See our Review Criteria
Gameplay Average
Story Below Average
Graphics Average
Sound/Music Average
Replay Value Good
The Verdict: Good