Khaaaaaan! A Star Trek: Online Review.
Star Trek and Star Wars are two franchises I came in contact with, but I never immersed myself in either universe more than I had to. Star Wars was a story of good vs evil, while Star Trek a secretly covered up 80s political commentary. With Star Wars there were countless different games which introduced older and newer parts of the story. I did not play most of them, but I did try Star Wars: The Old Republic and I was awe-struck. It was not only an impressive single player experience, but I felt that I finally understood everything about Star Wars (for once). Perhaps it is because I played as a Sith Inquisitor, but the game was an incredible experience.
Recently Star Trek Online went FTP (Free to Play). I knew very little about the universe, though I enjoyed some of the TV series. I did not play any of the Star Trek games, so this was a first. I did not read any of the game’s descriptions to see what would fascinate me the most, when I entered the game entirely green. What did I find? A mix of fun, as well as big disappointments.
The first few hours…
Registration was easy, downloading the game was simple. Character creation was complex enough for me to play around with my character’s looks, and I went for the Tactical Officer option. There are three classes to choose from, and the Tactical officer seemed the most appropriate to what I wanted to do… shoot down enemy ships. There is also an Engineer and Science class, but another factor which weighed in favour of the Tactical Officer was the red suit, rather than a yellow or blue one. Each class has a different skill set, depending on whether they are fighting on the ground or in space. The Tactical Officer takes care of squad buffs or weapon specialization on the ground, while in space he can make the ship perform better in terms of combat. The other classes effects shields or speed for example. The Engineer can disable enemy weapon while on the ground. Scientists act as the healers, in MMO terms.
The tutorial was somewhat lengthy, but it introduced most of the combat concepts both in space and on the ground. Ground combat occurs in a second-person perspective. You, as the captain, have a squad of five people (including you), so you have a suitable fire team with you, at all times. If you do not have enough Bridge officers (let’s call them, heroes) you will have generic security officers aiding you. You can change the equipment of your heroes, and develop their skills as they gain experience. You do not gather cash from defeated enemies, but instead gather loot which can be sold later.
The thing which I did not like about ground combat was that I did not have to do anything for my squad to defeat most foes. The combination of numerous disabling abilities and continuous fire contributed to the defeat of any foe. Buying almost any new proper weapon is expensive. You get new weapons from missions, or you can buy them at stores. There is usually no real dilemma between weapon types. You only have to make sure your “Squad” has the best equipment you can loot from enemies.
Space Combat I found to be interesting, because it happens entirely in three dimensions. As such, although you might be focusing on an enemy cruiser in front of you, another enemy could be flying down at you from above. There are different classes of ships, and although you are stuck with some very basic cruiser at the beginning you can change any piece of equipment on it. Different weapons have different arcs and uses. For example, phasers are lasers you can fire at enemy ships. They do not do much damage, but they are excellent at weakening enemy shields. Torpedoes cause massive damage to enemy hulls, as long as their shields are weakened or taken out. If you have somebody right behind you, your rear weapons can fire at them, or you could position yourself sideways so that a bigger number of your weapons can fire at the foe. As you progress through the levels, gain access to new space crafts and equipment, you have a wide enough choice of different options that you can forge your own “styles” of Space Combat. Specializing your Bridge officers grants you better abilities for space combat. If you do not like an ability your officer uses you can use an Officer trainer to change their skills. As such, you can design your ship from the bottom up. You can change its looks, gun layout, bridge officers, and so on, and so forth.