Reviews: Star Trek Online
Infinite Diversity through Infinite Combinations
In the Vulcan philosophy, there is a term, IDIC. Infinite Diversity through Infinite Combinations. It's been joked that this should be Cryptic Studios' slogan and motto. No where is this more evident than in Star Trek Online. Star Trek Online, or STO, had a rocky begining, and as someone who played in the beta, I can tell you that at the time of launch, it was in a very poor and sorry state. Having only recently returned to it, though, I am more than pleased to say that Cryptic has latched onto something for this game that truly makes it unique amongst MM Os. Creativity. STO already has extensive customization in the form of the "Gestalt Avatar" which is made up of your Captain, your B Offs, and your ship, all of which is fully customizable. If you can't find a race you like amongst the iconic races, you can always just make one up. This level of customization dwarfs even the very robust Champions Online, in wich you only have one "Avatar" at a given time. Further adding to this are the Ship Interiors, which allow you to invite friends over to your ship. This has been used in everything from the obvious Role Play, to even just having parties. Now, Star Trek Online is comming out with the Foundry, wich allows players to custom make interriors, as well as upload their own mission content, and, eventually, starbases, planets, and ship interiors. Cryptic is setting this game up to be a creators dream, where the only thing limiting it is the limits of the fans and players imaginations. There are several bugs, however, and many of them have been there since launch. Cryptic is working on these, though, and they actually do their best to keep the community informed about what they're doing and when they're doing it, wich is very refreshing and reassuring. The game isn't for everyone, it's still a long way from being 'Complete', but it's increadibly fun, and This Troper at the very least recomends that it be given a try. ADDITIONAL NOTE: If you like to RP and are also a Sci Fi fan, not nessisarily just a Trekky, then you MUST give this game a try. If you're just into RP, I also recomend it. No other game I have ever played has lent itself to RP more, between a rich history, extensive customization, and the Foundry, it's almost built for RP. The RP community is a little hard to find, but large, active, and friendly.
Much better after two years.
I first tried this game in around December '10-Jan '11 and to be honest, I didn't really get into it. Sure, the customization was cool but that was about it. I decided to download it again after it went F 2 P, and it has improved massively. Better ground environments, better... well, everything really. I've actually been hving fun with it now, even on a limited free account. The shooter control system is better (in my opinion) and the missions are very much improved (I've just completed the Klingon story arc).
Year 1 Retrospective: I have to admit, it's getting better. Getting better all the time.
Let's be honest here, a lot of Star Trek fans were underwhelmed with STO when it first arrived. They had reason to be. The ground combat wasn't much fun, the space combat (while good) could get a fair bit samey, there was a huge focus on war and the poor Klingons didn't really get much to do at all. (Not that having a PVP faction is bad per se, but the design team set the grind ratio way too high.) For me, I stuck with it. I had to; I paid for a lifetime sub and I was pretty confident that it could improve. (There was also the fact that I wasn't hyped up for it, so I enjoyed a lot of the good points to it) It wasn't long until the changes began to arrive. Some were subtle, some were pretty big. People started to look forward to the idea of Seasons of Mission and the Klingons started to get more stuff to do. But there was still the big elephant in the room. Basically, the fans didn't think that the development team were paying any attention to them; in an MMO this is considered bad because the whole point of an MMO is to gradually improve itself to get more subscribers. Then Dan Stahl took over as project leader, and suddenly the perception changed. He created a section where the fans could see exactly what the development team was working on, what they were looking at doing for the future, and quantifying when certain updates would be arriving. That was the turning point in the relationship between the fans and the dev team. The forums still remain a hotbed of argument, but in the grand scheme of things the fans were contented. Now, 1 year on and the game is much better than where it began. This is, to be honest, the state it should have been launched in. (Not that that was Cryptic's fault, that was Atari forcing them to finish a year earlier than they planned it to). With the mission replay and Episode Creation tools, Diplomacy, better crafting and much more content STO is now in a place where it can work on it's next big project. STO needs to revamp its ground combat. Right now, it's the only thing that lets the MMO down, and it's something that Star Wars: TOR will have in the bag from the get-go. If Cryptic can pull that off, then by all accounts STO has a good future ahead of it. Now if only the critics would give it a second chance instead of treating it as an eternal punchline...