Author Archives: Malcolm Peralty

Star Trek Online: Jumped the Shark

I just went to check Star Trek Online, and see if the updates have brought it back into line with the game I would love to play, but my disappointment in the game was only magnified when I saw that the Star Trek Online store had been updated with new items including this:

This felinoid race has been a loyal member of the United Federation of Planets since the 23rd century. Now is your chance to have one on your bridge! Purchase of this option allows you to create Caitian Federation Officers. These Captains begin with the Feline Instincts trait (20% bonus to Stealth Sight, 10% boost to Exploit damage, 75% increase to jump height, 10% chance to dodge half of the damage from ranged attacks). They may choose two additional traits, one of which may be the new Pounce trait (25-foot lunge melee attack power).

Yup, Star Trek has added furries to the game. I am sure the weird people that are “into” that sort of thing will be excited. I am really not impressed with the direction the game is going in. Maybe I am just not the type of person that should play MMO’s, but I keep hoping for a science fiction MMO that really captures my attention.

E3 2010: Where are the MMO’s?

E3 2010 is in full swing right now, and while the big consoles have all had their big day in the spotlight, I still feel like there is something missing at the event: a big MMO release. Sure, we had news of the Warhammer 40k MMO, but if that’s as well received by its audience as WAR was, then it is almost worth ignoring the announcement.

So far the most exciting MMO news in my opinion is Lego Universe (which can’t possibly be as fun as I hope it will be), and more on the upcoming Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO, which I know won’t be as fun as the trailers and FMV’s made it look.

I expected that we would see more MMO’s out this year, but it looks like game developers are moving more and more towards more traditional games, and just bumping up their profit by creating expansions, DLC or “new versions”. Many of the games coming out in the next two years seem to be new versions of old games, or refreshes of old IP.

I haven’t been very impressed with the games that are coming out, but I have to admit, the new announcements for the consoles all looked pretty good.

Warhammer 40k MMO: Dark Millennium Online

My friend and I used to talk about a Warhammer 40,000 MMO, and what we’d do with it. Now it looks like a Warhammer 40k MMO is primed and ready to go, but will it be everything that I hoped? Doubtful…

The issue I have is that I want the main races (of which there are almost a dozen) all playable on a multi-sided game. I don’t want it to be good guys versus bad guys. I want it to be open for everyone to fight each other.

I want to be in a battle where it is Tyranids versus Space Marines, and then in the middle of a close combat fight, some Orks drop down and start trying to kill us both, and then some Eldar walk in and start trying to destroy us all. The Space Marines, and the Eldar could make a temporary alliance to make sure the Tyranids get wiped out, and the Orks could use the lack of pressure on them to cause some mayhem for everyone. Doesn’t that sound more fun than good guys versus bad guys?

I am especially worried that it will be Space Marines versus Chaos Marines, as they are pretty much mirrors of each other when it comes to skills. I guess we will have to wait and see when it comes out, but even if it is just the sci-fi version of World of Warcraft I’ve been waiting for, then they’ll definitely make a subscriber out of me.

Champions Online: Love/Hate Relationship

I have always wanted to be a superhero. Even today, I walk around waiting for my super powers to present themselves. Yes, I know how lame that sounds, but the allure of being able to do such amazing things like we see today in the movies being made by Marvel and DC universe characters, and television shows like Heroes, just make the idea of being a superhero seem so close to reality.

I’ve been a fan of superhero mythology since as far back as I can remember. He-Man and She-Ra were some of the first cartoons I watched growing up. Then, after that it was things like Spiderman, X-Men and whatnot. I’ve always been surrounded by stories of people with special abilities.

So back when I heard that Cryptic was working on a new game called Champions Online, I bought a lifetime subscription. It was partly to gain access to the closed beta of Star Trek Online (see my review on Nomadic Gamer here), but I probably would have at least bought a six-month subscription had that not been a factor.

Since then, I have spent almost as much time in the character creator as I have in the game itself. Completing missions is fairly straightforward and not always fun, but doing it so that you can earn another power makes it all worthwhile. That is, until you get to around level 30. After level thirty, I started finding it very difficult to find a power that would fit the type of character I was creating, and if one did exist, it was either fairly weak, uninspired, or just stupid. Nearly all of the pets you can summon related to powers have an A.I. that must be powered by burnt toast because they can barely make it through doors.

Champions Online caps out at level 40, and while it took me a fair bit of time to reach that cap, I am frustrated that there is no longer any “real” content to speak of. I have gained access to the end mission content, but haven’t taken time to play through any of it, since it doesn’t allow me to get any higher in level.

As of nearly two and a half months ago, I made it to this cap, and haven’t actually played the game since then. This isn’t because the game doesn’t live up to my expectations, but more so because I don’t like to do things twice, and despite creating a game with an infinite amount of character builds, pretty much every character goes through the exact same mission progression.

I’ve created a few characters, and tried to get through the initial grind of the first few levels. One thing that they did that I really enjoyed was the fact that I could skip the tutorial area and get right to the “better” content.

I continue to play around with the character creator though, and think that it will always be the games saving grace in my eyes. Creating superheroes is fun as it allows my imagination to run wild and brings out the writer in me. So the rest of the game isn’t top notch? Who cares? The character creator alone was worth the price of admission in my eyes.

A Trek Fan’s Look at Star Trek Online

I am a pretty big Star Trek fan, and have been since Star Trek: The Next Generation came out. I never really appreciated the original series, but in the context of this post, I don’t think my lack of love for the Original Series really applies.

Star Trek Online was instantly the MMO for me, just because it was Star Trek. I knew it wouldn’t be held in the Original Series era, and as such, I’d be familiar with the technology, races and ships.

This review won’t be overly optimistic or excited about Star Trek Online, and I am sure I am not the only Star Trek fan that will feel this way.

What Cryptic Did Right?

A few months ago, the Star Trek Online site looked and worked quite differently. The main focus wasn’t on game reviews, but instead, building the universe that Star Trek Online would take place in.

They slowly released informatino on new ships, and most interestingly, they had articles entitled The Path to 2409 which were amazing updates on the span of time between the last Star Trek movie, and the starting date of the game universe.

Since just before closed beta began, these posts have stopped. There was a little more on the ships, but nothing that really excited me. I was looking forward to playing as a Federation character, but the lack of Klingon related content was almost laughable. How could anyone be convinced to play the Klingons with only two ship related posts, and only one or two paragraphs dedicated to them in each Path to 2409 post?

These posts, related to ships, the universe, and the eventual gameplay, were released at perfect intervals to keep people hooked. Add to that an open forum where anyone could post about their hopes and dreams for the game, as well as organizing fleets, and you have a dedicated and happy community, excited about a Star Trek MMO.

Then they redesigned their site and had their closed beta. Their site was amazing, but the actual gameplay wasn’t.

What Cryptic Did Wrong?

Missing that Star Trek feel. One of the biggest complaints I have about the game is how combat focused it is currently. You take your ship and fight Klingons, and then beam down to a planet, and fight more Klingons. After you’ve defeated things on the ground, you go to warp, move to the next area, and fight more Klingons. It all feels like one big grind-fest.

Your character can be customized, but the uniform customization feels both limiting and too extensive for Star Trek. You can customize your ship, but until you level up a dozen times don’t expect to change how it looks compared to others in your level.

Star Trek wasn’t ever really about personalization, so I can’t really knock the game for that. We should all have the same uniform, and ships of the same class should look the same. But if we are all going to be the same, why can’t I easily make it so that bridge officers I add to my crew have the same uniform as myself?

It is glaring issues like uniformity in uniforms that ruin the feel of the game, and the lack of diversity in missions and objectives that destroy the rest of the game.

Star Trek is about exploration, but in my advanced star ship, I rarely know exactly where to go. I have to hover over planets, to see if it matches the name that I have in my mission briefing.

Star Trek is about crew interaction, but all of my crew are NPC’s, and they don’t really mean anything to me. I have two engineering bridge officers, and if one died, I wouldn’t worry about the chracter, but instead, just the loss of their special ability.

Star Trek is about fleet interactions. Some of my favourite episodes of Star Trek included bigger battles but Cryptic hasn’t made fleet interaction easy, simple, or fun. You can’t send commands out to lower ranked people, nor can you organize your attack.

Everyone just moves towards the enemy, wears it down with phasers, and then, if they are trying to be tactical, wait until its shields are down to fire torpedos.

Usually though, everyone just spams buttons, and buffs until whatever enemy is on the screen dies. Then if you can tell what colour the loot drop is, you can possibly get a new item.

Conclusion

Playing Star Trek Online isn’t fun, and beyond that, it doesn’t feel like Star Trek to me. You could have called it “Future Battles Ground and Space”, and I probably would have been nicer to it in this review.

Star Trek brings so much history, information and fandom with it, that to mess up the simple concepts of the Star Trek universe in order to deliver another generic MMO is just shameful. I now see why so many companies before Cryptic haven’t been able to bring the dream of a fun Star Trek game to people’s computers.

I can’t go through everything I dislike about this game, as that would take all week, but hopefully this review helps open your eyes, and give the game serious consideration before jumping in and buying the year long, or lifetime subscription. Try the open beta, open until January 26th, 2010, and decide from there.