Best known for developing City of Heroes
, Cryptic Studios
spent 3 years developing expansions for CoH
, including the standalone City of Villians
that was unique in how it linked to CoH.
bought the CoH
code in 2007, Cryptic
was already focus on the development of what was going to be Marvel Universe Online. When Marvel cancelled the agreement, Cryptic
acquired the license to the super hero based Champions
role playing game. Thus what was Marvel Universe Online became Champions Online
A veteran of the early MMO titles, I played Ultima Online from launch, and following that Star Wars Galaxies. I also spent a couple months playing and generally enjoying City of Heroes, so I was familiar with Cryptic prior to Star Trek Online.
For most games, the completeness of development and lack of bugs are generally assumed. It’s only when bugs pop up in quality games are they really noted and noticed; affecting the score given by the reviewer. But when reviewing an MMO at launch, bugs and a lack of completeness are expected if not understood. However, with the Star Trek name attached to it, shortcomings in the games discussed in reviews by critics like myself will certainly not be as scathing as those of the millions of “Trekkies” bound to give the game a try and lampoon even it’s smallest shortcoming.
Now that we have a majority of the perfunctory stuff out of the way, let’s get down to business.
As with most MMO’s, Star Trek Online begins in character creation. Most of the features here are what you’d expect. Full body and facial customization, along with race selection. As with Star Wars Galaxies, you can choose from many of the standard races you’re used to seeing in this property (Human,.Vulcan, Andoran, etc.). Some are available right out of the box, others such as a Worf-esque Federation Klingon and Federation Ferengi are available from the Crytic store for Cryptic points. Additionally, the ability to be a Liberated Borg was a bonus for one of the multitude of preorder options. Finally, beyond the various races the user can choose from, you can also customize your character to be an entirely new race. There are also multiple uniform choices, ranging from those seen in The Next Generation and related movies to designs. One of my pre-order bonuses was the Admirals uniform Kirk wore in the Wrath of Khan. Easily the best uniform in the game, in my opinion.
On top of race and appearance, the most important choice regarding your character is the characters class. For a universe with seemingly hundreds of career choices, you can only choose from 3 possible career paths: engineer, tactical, or science. While these tie directly to the primary options of Starfleet, it doesn’t feel very flexible as a player trying to create a character that is unique. As I’ll detail later, these career choices directly affect the players choice in ships.
Once you get into the game, the tutorial missions thrust you right into the middle of a Borg attack on the ship you’re assigned to straight out of the academy. You’re whisked through some missions that get you the basics of ground combat and background on the current state of the Federation. By the end of the tutorial, you’re given command of your own ship. This is probably the biggest parallel between the shows, the movies, and STO: your ship is the central character.
If fact, this is one of the biggest issues I have with the game; instead of seeing space travel or perhaps even combat from inside the bridge as characters in the shows would; travel and combat are all seen from a third person camera view outside the ship. While you can spend a good bit of time customizing your character and uniform, you spend a majority looking some view of whatever it is you’re currently flying.
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