STAR TREK ONLINE, was not what I expected.
I must say, I'm kinda disappointed in the current state of Star Trek Online. As a fan of Trek, and a fan of MMOs, Star Trek Online, just isn't there yet. I was actually expecting something half decent, but after playing the available demo at PAX, the game just didn't do it for me.
In an attempt at giving players a varied MMO experience that absorbs the player in the Star Trek universe, exploration is not limited to a planet's surface, but as fans would expect it extends through the galaxy as well. Yes, Trekkies finally get to "Explore strange new worlds." Of course, that is what Trek is all about, but when I first heard about this gameplay element, I was thrilled until I actually played it. The element of space combat makes up a critical aspect of the game, and it was something that took some getting used to in this short demo.
The space combat is designed for more slower strategic play, like you're controlling a submarine, or a massive military sea vessel, the exact opposite of your average action space shooter. I guess I was expecting to control the starships with more flexibility, and speed, but in Trek, Starships actually do move quite sluggishly. So, in that respect, Cryptic is keeping it true to the Star Trek universe. Sometimes though, keeping things "true," might not work in another medium, from which it is being adapted too, especially the videogame medium. Slow moving ships might be a great way for building suspense in TV shows or films, but in gaming? Meh. Yay, moving really slowly while getting clobbered by 3 Klingon Warbirds, was real fun.
The Cryptic reps knew that everyone would have trouble with this feature of the game, so they stood by, and took extra care to explain everything. That is, if they were actually around, while you were playing the demo.
To add to the Trek feel, all the commands at the demo, were rooted to the keyboard rather than the mouse, as if you were sitting on the bridge at a tactical console. Rather than firing phasers with the mouse, you're pressing the number keys instead. That is all fine and dandy, but when it becomes too sluggish, and confusing to play, design-wise something needs to be changed. I wasn't the only one who found space combat in STO frustrating. Everyone else after me at the demo kiosk, had problems playing it.
Some have said that if you've had experience with Eve Online, you should be familiar with this type of control. Whereas I think the combat is much more similar to the Nintendo DS game STAR TREK TACTICAL ASSAULT. Here's hoping players will have the option to fly smaller ships as well, like Shuttlecrafts or Runabouts, for faster paced space fights. I can definitely see the slower space fights getting tedious, if you are just trying to get from point A to point B. The game needs faster space dog fights.
After duking it out with Klingon Warbirds, I was able to move on to the next part of the demo.
As a foot soldier, with the Away team we made out way through some corridors, and killed some Klingons, with relative ease, as in no-brainer phaser combat that felt very uninteresting. I found the funniest part about ground combat to be the leg sweep. It's just too funny, you have to see it.
This is where I think the game needs to deviate from the usual Trek, and become more of an MMO game. Most MMOs offer the opportunity to carry new armor, weapons, and learn new attack skills. In a Starfleet officers case... they typically wear the same uniform, shoot the same standard issue weapons, and do some boring self-defense moves. How boring could that be for a player to be a Starfleet officer in an MMO? Unless of course you have Betazoid abilities that could fry an enemies mind, or throw them across the room.
Overall, it didn't feel like MMO combat that I'm used to with games like WOW and Aion. It felt more arcadey, in a way.
When asked, what my favorite part of the game was, I simply wrote "Graphics", because I couldn't think of anything else. I like the game, I think it has fan pleasing aspects to it, but as a solid MMO, that I'd play for hours on end, it's still way too early to tell.
I'm interested enough in the game to possibly play the Beta, whenever that comes around.
In any case. I'll stay occupied with a REAL MMO...
I am enjoying the AION Open beta. Going on this entire week, this is the last beta I believe, ending this Sunday, before the game finally launches on the 22nd.