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Game Info:

Star Trek Online
Released: Februrary 2, 2010
ESRB Rating: T
Available On: PC
Genre: MMORPG
Number of Players: online
Price: $39
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Minimum System Requirements:
OS: Windows XP SP2 / Windows Vista / Windows 7 (32 or 64-bit)
CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo 1.8 Ghz or AMD Athlon X2 3800+
Memory: 1GB RAM
Video: NVIDIA GeForce 7950 / ATI Radeon X1800 / Intel HD Graphics  Sound: DirectX 9.0c Compatible Soundcard
DirectX: Version 9.0c or Higher
HDD: 8GB Free Disk Space <br Network: Internet Broadband Connection Required
Disc: 6X DVD-ROM
Recommended System specs:
OS: Windows XP SP2 / Windows Vista / Windows 7 (32 or 64-bit)
CPU: Intel E8400 Core 2 Duo or AMD Athlon X2 5600+
Memory: 2GB RAM+
Video: NVIDIA GeForce 8800 / ATI Radeon HD 3850+

Engage! Star Trek Online is the highly anticipated entry of the Star Trek franchise into the Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game genre. The game has been in a state of development flux for many years. The game was first announced back in 2004, to be developed by Perpetual Entertainment. However, in 2008, Perpetual filed for bankruptcy, and the license and art assets were sold to Cryptic Studios. The first closed beta began in late 2009, and the open beta began on January 12, 2010. The open beta closed on January 26, 2010, and all those who pre-ordered had the ability to get a head start in the game, beginning on January 29. The game launched February 2, 2010. This is a preview, so all details may have changed between the time of writing (January 28) and the release, and will certainly change after release.

The character creation process can be as simple or as complex as you want. You can choose from several races, or create your own. Federation races are Andorian, Bajoran, Benzite, Betazoid, Bolian, Human, Saurian, Trill (Joining status depends on which version of the game) and Vulcan. When creating a unique race, you must select physical appearance, and choose from stats to add a racial bonus. After choosing a race and gender, you choose a class, or as the game calls it, a career path. These are Engineering officer, Science officer, and Tactical officer. The Engineering officers are essentially the equivalent of a warrior or tank class in that they absorb damage well, and can protect their group. The Science officers are similar to the healer in that they have healing abilities and general buffing abilities. The Tactical officers are like a mage or Damage-per-second (DPS) class, with a specialty toward damaging the enemies as much as possible. Of important note, you must be at least Lieutenant Rank 6 to unlock the ability to play Klingons. Klingons in this game are heavily combat oriented, since you are supposed to bring honor to your house. Also of note, the Klingon Empire does not consist of solely Klingons or the race you create. Also available to you are Gorn, Nausicaans, Letheans and Orions.

The Federation side starts off with your character being thrown into a conflict with the Borg. You learn the basics of gameplay here, including interaction, combat, and space travel. By the end, you are given the captains\' chair in what feels like a strained way. It is understandable that everyone wants to be captain, but the explanation given seems a bit weak, and essentially forces the character to command the ship. It might have been a little more fun to work your way up to the chair, but that\'s a minor point of contention. The leveling system in Star Trek Online is rather confusing at first. Each level is listed as \' Rank \'. It can get confusing to try and say that you are level 11, which would translate to \'Lieutenant Commander Rank 1\'. There are five ranks: Lieutenant, Lieutenant Commander, Commander, Captain, and Admiral. There are ten grades per rank. A Lieutenant Rank 4 translates to level 4, Commander Rank 5 to level 25, etc.

 

Highlights:

Strong Points: Space combat is easy to learn, and very enjoyable; very detailed graphics, and reasonable system requirements; high level of interactivity with the environment and players; PVP is competitive and fun; fans of Star Trek will be in virtual heaven here.

Weak Points: Ground combat can be sluggish every now and then; the voyages to some sectors can take a long time; the game tends to lag a lot; you are automatically given the captain\'s chair, with no way to work your way up.

Moral Warnings: Some females dress suggestively, all Star Fleet officers wear tight uniforms, and there is some suggestive dialogue; there is some cussing of the minor variety (D and H words) and the chat system\'s filter isn\'t perfect; there are lots of explosions from ship-to-ship combat and lots of bloodless violence on the ground.

Your ship will have one or more Bridge officers while exploring. Each one will add a valuable skill or ability to your ship. Engineers can use a power which diverts emergency power to the shields, giving you more damage mitigation. They can also recharge shields more quickly. Tactical officers can temporarily upgrade your torpedoes to shoot double your normal yield, and they have more advanced melee attacks on the ground. Science officers can use tachyon beams to burn down enemy shields, and can heal party members on the ground.

There are five tiers of Starship; each one corresponding to your rank. The first Tier, Light Cruiser, is the only one available to you until you reach Lieutenant Commander. Once you reach that rank, you may specialize in one of three ship types. The three types are Cruiser, Escort, and Science. Each type corresponds to the character class in each ship\'s abilities. The Cruisers can soak up a lot of damage while dealing a respectable amount. The Science Vessels can offer medical assistance and use unique abilities like penetrating cloaking devices and using tachyon beams to burn through shields. The Escorts are fast, agile, and pack a wallop. These are the ships used in hit-and-run missions and situations where taking the enemy out faster than they can take you out is preferable.

The combat in Star Trek Online is very interactive, and usually requires good reflexes. Ground combat has two modes: normal, and sighting. Normal changes nothing to the viewpoint or damage dealt, but sighting shows an over-the-shoulder perspective and causes more damage. However, movement speed is reduced considerably while in this mode. Space Combat uses keys to pivot the ship and to change throttle speeds. The throttle can be very important when closing in on enemy ships or firing at them. Full Impulse (A running mode, of sorts) will get you to the fight quicker, but if you don\'t disable it fast enough, you run the risk of taking more damage from your enemies without the ability to fire back. When in combat, you must take down enemy shields before you can do actual damage. In solo fights, this can end up taking quite some time. Each ship has different slots for weapons, including torpedo launchers, and phaser banks. In addition to space combat, some missions will pit you against a boarding party if you become disabled. How quickly they are neutralized depends on your crew compliment and rank.

The music score for this game mostly consists of tracks already from the franchise, with a few new additions here and there. The atmospheric noise and background sounds are very well done; authentic sounds from the show are used, and convincing sound-alikes make this game truly a Star Trek game.

The graphics from this game are excellent for an MMORPG, but higher graphical settings can cause some problems. If the graphics are set higher, the computer will have to work harder to negotiate with the server, which can lead to lag. I would personally recommend that you let the game set the options up for you. The graphical style attempts to be realistic while still being playable on lower-end computers. The models are very well done, and the texture work can be breath-taking. The sectors of space can be repetitive and look similar; however, in some sectors, like the Bajoran sector, the design is very neat.

The game menu can seem overwhelming at first, but it contains a lot of detail for ease of use. From any one menu, you can almost get to any other menu in game. The inventory seems counter-intuitive at first since you cannot drag items to your character. However, this does reduce the time it takes to equip something, since you only have to right-click on it and click \'equip.\'

The game is moderately stable, but the beta could crash every now and again. The game may randomly disconnect you, or not let you log in, but this is not often. The game can lag a lot, especially when there are many players in the same zone.
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game score:
Gameplay: 19/20
Graphics: 9/10
Sound: 10/10
Interface: 5/5
Stability: 4/5
Game Score: 47/50

Appropriateness score:
Violence: 7/10
Language: 8/10
Sexual Content/Nudity: 8/10
Occult/Supernatural: 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical: 9/10
Appropriateness: 43/50

The appropriateness in this game is very similar to Star Trek shows. Some women wear skimpy outfits and all characters wear tight uniforms. There is minimal cursing in this game, and most of it is relayed through text. The chat filter was not perfect at catching curses, as mis-spellings could get through. There is lots of violence in this game, though it\'s bloodless from what I saw. The ship-to-ship violence is full of pretty explosions and flashing lights, and ground combat remains bloodless, and is more often than not fought only with phasers/disruptors. Thankfully, spiritual issues are never touched on in this game, since the Federation is at war. One might question the ethics of being a Klingon pirate whose only goal is to kill and gain honor for their house, however.

Star Trek Online is very similar to its television counterparts in that it\'s about combat, science, exploration, and diplomacy. The game is a must-play for Trekkies and a worthwhile experience for MMO veterans. The game has its fair share of kinks to work out, but this could potentially be the best science fiction MMO in a long time. With rumors of adding Cardassians and Romulans as playable races in the future, as well as adding new sectors, Trek Fans will find lots to love here. Non-fans will find an enjoyable MMO, still in its early stages, but fun nonetheless. Make it so!

 

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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