I decided a couple of weeks after the launch of Star Trek Online to give it a tryout. The game had a lot of positive buzz at the time which stimulated the impulse buying centre of my brain. But I had a plan.
The plan was to buy the game and just play the free 30 days and then let it lapse. Time being limited the way it is for me now, I can’t justify having another sub going, but I did want to see what everyone was going on about. I’m also enjoying other games in my limited play time and something would suffer with another game in the mix.
By the way, this isn’t a review, just my impressions of the game with limited exposure. I should also say that while I enjoy Star Trek as Science Fiction, I’m not a Trekkie and don’t spend hours (or even minutes really) in chat rooms discussing the relative merits of the starship classes, or if champaign would freeze or boil when the bottle breaks against a spaceship hull.
Overall, my STO experience was quite positive. The space combat was excellent and I really enjoyed that. But there were a few things.
- Ground combat sucked. I didn’t enjoy it at all. It was unimaginative and ultimately pointless. There was in fact one mission I beamed down to where I had to run around and question a bunch of colonists and then repeat their answers to the colony foreman. That was it. No defending the colony from unknown critters. No solving a problem. Just we’re upset, answer these questions, see you later. Pointless.
- Gold Spam. Or energy credits spam… whatever. Start the game up, or go into a new area and wham! Chat full of crap which then had to be /ignored. Very annoying. And ultimately it should not have been there. Star Trek has never been about economics, and The Next Generation put a lot of emphasis on that and how humanity had grown past the trappings of material gain, although later series hinted at an underlying economy. But still, the Star Trek gold trade could have been avoided if the economy was de-emphasised and the Star Trek values had been given more place.
- And I guess that’s the last thing that bothered me. Despite the ships and species, it didn’t have a particularly Star Trek feel for me. Replace the Star Trek elements and there wouldn’t really be any difference. Except Cryptic wouldn’t have players up in arms about the lack of Klingon content. Star Trek was always about exploration and boldly going. I know it’s wartime and all, but Star Trek was all about maintaining the values even when things are going awry. That Prime Directive was a harsh mistress.
However, as I said before. Space combat is where STO is at. It’s fun, and the battles aren’t always walkovers. It can take a little planning and getting the ship loadout right to blast through a mission, but it’s reasonable easy to figure out. I have to say I especially enjoyed piloting the Klingon ship. Nothing like bearing down on an enemy with that ST Klingon anthem running through your head. (I’m not the only one who hears that, right?)
One tip though. Get yourself a controller. I used my wired XBox 360 controller and plugged it into a spare USB port. It makes all the difference. I was finding the keyboard mappings were taking my fingers through a bit of a stretch and twist routine, and it was difficult to do everything I needed to keep up in a battle. After spending a bit of time mapping to the controller, and then getting used to piloting the ship with it, I found it was a joy to battle. And it was faster too.
So the upshot. Crappy ground combat. Doesn’t feel like Star Trek (to me.) But excellent ship to ship combat which makes up for the shortcoming.