These are the voyages of the USS Enterprise (or replace “name” with favorite ship)… to boldly go into (cyber)space where plenty of men and women already play online. I’m a big fan of Star Trek (the original series) with Jim Kirk, Spock, Sulu, Bones etc. I have occasionally watched the next generations and Voyager series (never got into the Deep Space 9 soap opera), and find the latest film reboots pleasingly entertaining. To sum it up, I’m a discerning trekkie/trekker and I prefer to learn languages that are spoken by real people to Klingon… But true enough, I’m a bit biased when it comes to Star Trek fare and I remember some of the earlier Star Trek computer games (although most were admittedly forgettable). So when I came around to orbiting Star Trek Online, I expected the game to be just another Star Trekspoitation… The story takes place roughly a generation after the Next Generation, or a century after the voyages of Jim Kirk and his crew. Star Trek Online puts you (of course!) in the captain’s seat and lets you follow in the footsteps of your illustrious Starfleet predecessors as you warp around strange new worlds, pulverize enemy vessels (including the Gorns), and phase Romulans to oblivion with landing parties of your pick.
Playability: Effortless transporter beam
Star Trek Online is a highly playable online game. However you’ll need a decent internet connection (even an average ADSL will do). After the lengthy initial download, the game will frequently patch and update new content, so continuous connection is required. Signing up is a breeze and only asks for the bare minimum info (an existing email account). The tutorial puts you into the hot seat within mere seconds, and quickly lets you enjoy firing phasers, photon torpedoes and other colorful tachyon beams.
Annoyance: Target on explosion and fire!
As you progress in rank and command larger vessels, the screen tends to get a little cluttered with barely comprehensible icons and ships zooming in all directions. Generally you assume a third person perspective (third ship view), so don’t expect to command your crew from the suave comfort of your bridge. Nevermind, just aim, click and watch cruel tyrants get blown to pieces. Unless you’re a hard core trekkie you’ll be hard pressed to understand the subtle differences between the various attack patterns, a multitude of science, engineering and tactical consoles, and endlessly customizable ship and crew equipment.
Beauty: Strange new worlds and sleek spaceships
Star Trek Online puts the beauty of the Universe on your little screen. Planets, moons, asteroids, nebulae, stars and pulsars are all gorgeously rendered in dazzling colors. Spaceships range from the familiar 1960s Enterprise and Constituiont class cruisers to more futuristic designs. As Star Trek Online is a role-playing game, you also get to fully customize your own character. Don’t expect to win any beauty contest, but you can run and jump if somewhat awkwardly.
The Old Video Gamer’s Prattle: Warp Factor 9/10
I have spent a surprisingly number of nights boldly going with Stark Trek Online. I’m not a big fan of crowd play, but Star Trek Online is versatile and flexible enough to accommodate a variety of gaming styles. Whether you want to fly with a fleet or explore the Universe on your own, there will be an infinite number of missions available. More cut-scenes and voice acting would flesh out the game a little further. Star Trek Online is truly free to play. Old videogamers and casual players will most likely never have to pay to play unless they want to support game development. Star Trek Online is solid free bold fun.