Command a starship as a Federation or a Klingon CaptainReviewer - John Layland
It's time yet again for another MMORPG to try and steal away some of World of Warcraft's loyal subscribers and make a name for itself. This time however it's not a fantasy world populated by the usual blend of Tolkein-esque orks, elves and wizards that aims to throw a spanner into the works of Blizzards money making machine, it's something a little bit different.
Released earlier this year, Cryptic Game's Star Trek Online is an MMORPG that aims to take players into the final frontier and beyond and when you think about it the Star Trek universe really is almost the perfect place to set an MMORPG. With an endlessly explorable universe, myriad of alien races and huge back catalogue of content from which to draw inspiration from, it seems strange upon reflection that it's taken this long for a developer to attempt it but as Star Wars Galaxies proved, it takes a little more than a combination of those things to create a successful MMORPG even if you do have a hardcore fan base to rely on. So does it have what it takes to boldly go where no MMORPG has gone before? Or will it leave you hankering for another fix of World of Warcraft before the trial period's up?
As any MMORPG player will tell you, it's difficult to get an idea of just how good the game is until you've spent a couple of months in it's clutches, something that makes them very hard to review but first impressions are good. After a short introduction by none other than Leonard Nimoy himself you craft an avatar based on any roster of races in the games suitably in depth character creation screen, choose from one of three (differently named but instantly recognisable to any MMO player) character classes and after a short Borg attack that serves nicely as an introduction to the controls and HUD you find yourself in control of your own vessel. It's not exactly the Enterprise when you first start out, but your ship is where you'll be spending the majority of your time, as Cryptic have chosen to focus the combat in Star Trek online towards the epic space engagements the franchise is known for. This is a good thing because it's the ship combat that really shines in Star Trek Online and is one of it's most unique elements.
First off, everything looks and sounds exactly as you'd expect, from the visually impressive beams of orange Phaser fire to the satisfying explosion of a Photon torpedo impacting an enemy ships hull it's all here, and when there's more than one vessel involved, as there often will be in some of the larger scale battles the game conjures up some pretty spectacular visuals despite it's modest graphics engine. The combat system itself is very similar to that of other MMO's, it's about knowing when how best to use the abilities and loot at your disposal rather than pin point sharp aim or lightning fast reaction times but there's still some skill to maneuvering your ship around the 3D space to bring your weapons round onto an enemy and despite the ships huge turning circle and low speed under impulse power it's very engaging.