Star Trek Online is one of the most eagerly anticipated massively multiplayer online role play games ever to hit the shelves. Featuring everyone’s favourite sci-fi franchise and being a PC-only title, we were all but obliged to send one of the team to boldly go where millions of overweight and socially-challenged nerds had gone before.
As with all MMOs, there is never really an end so what we’re looking at is the first 25 hours or so of play. By this time, if you’re still playing the game then there's a solid chance that you still will be when you’ve utterly destroyed the final remnants of your social life.
The character creation system lets you choose between humans and just about every other obscure humanoid race that you’ve seen walking around on the Enterprise or Deep Space Nine. Rather than a myriad of sliders that do very little, you can choose between a number of character presets which vary appearance considerably. Knowing all too well the futility of resistance, we opted to play as a reclaimed Borg.
The designation of this Borg unit is One Three Three Seven
Fans of Star Trek design and audio won’t be disappointed by the way the game looks and sounds. The interior and exterior of the ships, planet surfaces, music and equipment are extremely varied but manage to hold strong to the Star Trek universe with which you’ll be familiar. The sound effects are present too – including the critical tricorder and phaser sound effects.
Much like Pirates of the Burning Sea, you can adventure on foot or in your ship. Away missions see gameplay take a third-person perspective, where you spend your time culling enemies and watching generic members of your away team getting palmed off as cannon fodder, just like on TV.
When not on foot, you can manually pilot your U.S.S Federation vessel on impulse engines, grappling for position over enemy craft to seek weaknesses in their defences and firing photon torpedoes at will.
In space, they only hear you scream if you yell the 'K' word
As the game opens and the plot begins, you’re cast as an Ensign in the Federation – one of those useless little plebs who invariably show up purely so they can be killed later on in the episode. War is upon the Federation and your fleet is embroiled in a battle against the Borg that’s not too dissimilar from that of the opening sequence in Star Trek: First Contact. An ally ship is in dire straights and you’re selected to be beamed over to assist. The captain of the ship sends you around the war-torn vessel assisting in repelling its already somewhat advanced assimilation.
The combat system for ground missions (or indeed, ship interior missions) is the usual MMO fare, involving shortcut bars down the bottom of the screen, shin kicking enemies until they drop and then looting their corpses for knick-knacks and weapons. The replicators from the shows are re-purposed as part of the looting system and you can melt down gear into energy credits to be reused in making more equipment. You can exchange, for example, a single auxiliary battery for enough energy credits to get you four banana pancakes. Happy days.
As an Ensign, there are three core classes you can specialise as; engineering, science and tactical. Engineering officers are the crowd control of the group and can also take the most damage, making them suited for tanking with skills such as stun mines and turrets, they also provide support damage for a group. Science officers are basically healers but also help in taking down enemies with bleed skills. Tactical staff excel at DPS and all-round combat.