Star Trek Online Previews

Some last-minute previews of Cryptic's Star Trek Online have hit the web, just in time for the sci-fi MMORPG's official launch tomorrow morning.

The Adrenaline Vault starts us off:
Star Trek Online starts you off with the most unique character-creation system I have ever used. When have you ever been able to choose the way your character stands in MMORPGs? You can play any of the popular races, ranging from Vulcans to Andorians. If those races don't suit your fancy, you can simply create your own and pick his or her (or its) race traits. Your officer can be one of three classes: Science (blue uniform), Engineering (yellow uniform) or Tactical officer (red uniform). Each has its own associated powers and tactics. I chose to play a purple Saurian science officer. Saurians are one of the ugliest races in the universe (apologies to the Saurian fans out there, but you know it's true).

Variety can be an issue in MMO's but in an attempt to try and bring a bit more diversity to the genre, Cryptic have come up with a decent variety of missions. These can range from conversing with miners on a backwater planet in order to find out their gripes and improve their standard of living, saving freighters from asteroid fields, delivering supplies to a stricken ship whilst stumbling upon an illegal mining operation with ensuing huge space battles, escorting Vulcan ambassadors to the monastery of P'Jem with a collection of artefacts that have been on display on Earth. The list goes on and on.

The ground combat in Star Trek Online was fun - similar to Champions in terms of using weapons and abilities, but level designs seemed a lot better in the way of how they fit with the Star Trek cannon. It was really exciting to beam my away team down to an alien world for the first time in the middle of what we would call a violent dust storm (I know not what the planet's natives call it - but I digress). The game makes good use of flanking and combat keeps you moving and seeking cover. Attacking an enemy's side or rear will result in a lot of extra damage so you will find some real challenge in battle with the various types of things you will fight - be it a Gorn, Borg, or Orion Slave-Woman.

Den of Geek!:
What I like most about the attacking side of this is that you are encouraged, where possible, to attack from the sides or from behind the enemy, and you are duly rewarded with a flanking bonus which does much more damage. It adds tactics and strategy to your approach and stops you wanting to '˜run and gun' so much, as you know if you successfully flank your opponents you'll not only dispatch them easier but also earn more XP for it.

In principle, an interesting idea to inject some multiplayer action into otherwise instanced-to-death solo game. Sadly the system is ripe for exploitation and game mechanics feel unfinished. You can just warp in or beam down, go watch some TV while letting others to do the killing, returning when the mission completes. There is no way for others to kick you out and there is no penalty for leeching. It doesn't even matter if they somehow try to get you killed due to the lack of death penalty. In missions where the objective is to find some glowing items, there is no real benefit from being the one who bothers shooting at the enemies, so you can let others do the hard work and just quickly grab the mission item and get out. At least when playing with a NPC away team, you actually have to do some bits yourself to complete the required objectives.