closed beta for Star Trek Online came to a close this week, but
rather than a time of sadness, it marks a new testing phase for the
game. Open beta begins on January 12th and fans around the world can't
wait. Over the course of the last four decades, there have been
numerous Star Trek television series that have arguably been awesome.
There has also been a number of good, if not great, movies as well.
Unfortunately, the same can't be said when discussing video games based
on the iconic Star Trek IP. While there have been some that were far
better than their predecessors (Bridge Commander), none have managed to
truly capture that Star Trek feeling... until now.
Before I explain why I think Star Trek Online might finally live up to
my Star Trek expectations, keep in mind that at the time of this
writing, it was still in closed beta.
The first thing any player, reviewer, or Star Trek fanatic has to admit
is that once again, Cryptic has proven why they are the undisputed character
. Starting with
City of Heroes, and then further expanded upon with 2009’s
Champions Online, the team has continued their relentless pursuit of
allowing players to create the character of their dreams with Star Trek
Online. The uniform choices may not be quite as extravagant as in the
previous titles I mentioned, but character heads, bodies, and faces get
the full Cryptic treatment we've come to love and expect.
The first time I had an hour to play the game I managed to make a
character and talk to the first NPC in the game's tutorial. As seems to
be a repeating pattern when creating a character in one of Cryptic's
games, I lost track of time as I tweaked and altered my character until
it was just right. The true beauty of the character creation system is
that you can make a character in under a minute or take over an hour.
The team has recognized how important a feature like this is for so
many gamers while not punishing those that couldn't care less about how
their character looks. Once again, Cryptic fails to disappoint in this
After deciding which officer track to follow (Tactical, Engineering,
Science), choosing a race (such as Vulcan, Andorian, Ferengi, or
other), and fiddling with my uniform far longer than any
self-respecting male should, I was ready to hop into a nice relaxing
tutorial. That lasted for all of about two minutes as I wandered
through what looked like Ten Forward on the Enterprise-D before being
thrown into the heart of a crisis. You may be nothing but a newb
Ensign, the starting rank in the game, but you're going to test your
mettle against the Borg, so buck up soldier and get to it.
Throughout the battle
with the Borg
, you'll fight in
the hallways of the ship, transport wounded personnel to a science
vessel, take on Borg spheres, infiltrate a Borg ground camp, disable a
shield generator, and take on a Borg cube with the help of some other
Federation ships. Gone are the days of boring tutorials and I say good
riddance. I honestly can't remember the last time I not only paid
attention to what was going on in a tutorial, but also actually cared.
During the tutorial and your beginning missions, you'll quickly realize
that the space and ground combat scenarios are almost completely
different games, even though they both take place in the same universe.
If my own experiences and the chatter of those in the beta test are any
indication, each player will have their own preference. I've been a
space combat junkie since I played Wing Commander back in the early
90's so naturally, the space portion of Star Trek Online has been my
favorite so far.
Fighting against one ship by yourself is pretty fun. Fighting against
multiple ships by yourself is even cooler. Taking on a small squadron
of enemy ships with another player or two is awesome. None of that
compares to the space battle you'll enjoy during an early mission where
you need to protect a Starbase though. Imagine fighting along side
approximately 15 other players and taking on what seems to be a full
Klingon fleet. You're tasked with destroying 50 enemy ships and 20
Battlecruisers. The fight that ensues is nothing short of pure epic
awesomeness! And by the way, this happened when I was level 4. That's
right, I said 4. Not 40, not 50, not at the end-game. This took place
after approximately three hours of game play. These are the things that
will set Star Trek Online apart from the slew of MMOGs currently on the