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Posts Tagged ‘Star Trek Online’

Star Trekkin’ Across The Universe

August 22nd, 2010 No comments

In the month since my last blog post about Star Trek Online, I’ve had quite a career. I’ve been promoted from Lt. Commander to Commander, then again to Captain.

Friday night I reached the rank of Rear Admiral (Lower Half). Yes, “lower half” is actually part of the title; apparently there’s a similar demarcation in the U.S. military. Still, it’s kinda weird when the non-player characters in the game refer to me as Rear Admiral (Lower Half) Caitlin Howard.

I felt that my new rank deserved a new uniform!

I’m now Level 42, which means that I’ve gone a good bit higher in Star Trek Online than I have in any other MMORG I’ve played.* I consider it both a testament to my joy in watching shit blow up, as well as the copious amounts of “fan service” in the story-based missions.

Confronting the Crystalline Entity.

It did not go well.

There was a pretty nifty bit that involved stopping the evil son of the “Mirror Universe” version of Miles O’Brien from using the Bajoran wormhole to bring through a massive invasion fleet from his own dimension.

Another story was about the Founders (the shapeshifting leaders of the Dominion from Deep Space Nine) establishing a new “Great Link” in the Alpha Quadrant.

Swimming in the Great Link. Founder? You're soaking in it!

Then there was a mission to Empok Nor, a formerly-abandoned Cardassian station turned into a terrorist outpost. In an especially clever touch, Empok Nor always appears tilted, just as it did in the Deep Space Nine episode in which it first appeared.

It wouldn’t be Star Trek without some Tribbles, and I saved an entire planet of them from some scurvy Klingons.

There will be no songs of the Great Tribble Hunt this day!

Yesterday took me down into the Bajoran Fire Caves in search for someone who’d been possessed by the evil Pah-wraiths. I had fun kicking Cardassians off the catwalks into the lava below!

Each rank increase brings with it new ship choices. For the most part I’ve stuck with the canonical starships. As a Commander, I tooled around in an Akira-class escort.

Flying between the towers of a Romulan asteroid base.

With Captain came the option of a Galaxy-class cruiser (think Enterprise-D from The Next Generation), a Defiant-class escort (Sisko’s ship from Deep Space Nine) and an Intrepid-class science vessel (a dead-ringer for the U.S.S. Voyager). I tried out all three, but instantly fell in love with the Defiant, a scrappy, zippy craft that made the stately Galaxy look like a lumbering cow.

As a Rear Admiral (Lower Half) I opted for a Sovereign-class cruiser, similar to Picard’s Enterprise-E from the latter Next Generation motion pictures. It’s only a little bit sportier than the Galaxy, but it certainly packs a punch!

The U.S.S. McAuliffe battles a Borg sphere.

Nothing gladdens the heart quite so much as an exploding Borg cube.

There was a major update to the game a few weeks ago. Among the additions was a dabo game in Quark’s Bar, complete with the voice of actress Chase Masterson as a holographic version of her DS9 character Leeta. Admittedly, she gets a bit annoying after a while.

The game is still kinda buggy. Here’s a screenshot of the time I found a whole bunch of NPCs repeatedly walking into the wall.

And then there was the time when the walls aboard a starship vanished, opening into deep space.

The first step was a doozy.

Still, I suppose that’s par for the course in such an incredibly complex game. Doesn’t matter, I’m still having a blast!

I spend a lot of time petting my Tribble, if you know what I mean.

*And yet it took me until this weekend to realize that there was an option to “hide” the armor suits that my characters are forced to wear during planetary missions. I’d gone to a bunch of trouble to outfit my gals in Original Series miniskirts, and was annoyed that most of the time they wound up wearing head-to-toe speed suits. Chalk it up to shitty online documentation; the in-game instructions are maddeningly superficial.

Fans Are A Dish Best Served Cold

July 18th, 2010 No comments

As my wife will attest, I’ve been playing entirely too much of Star Trek Online these past couple of weeks. It’s my favorite type of Massive Multiplayer Online game: one which allows me to largely ignore the other players. The only times I’ve been partnered with random strangers have been during those space missions that automatically assigned me to an “open instance team.”

Since my initial review of STO, I’ve been promoted to the rank of Lt. Commander. While my wife says that I wasn’t really promoted to anything, I know better. Mr. Spock said so. It’s funny how a few lines of Leonard Nimoy voice-over legitimize things in my head.

Exploring planet Portobello.

My new rank has granted me a new ship, and I naturally opted for a refit Constitution-class cruiser. (Basically the U.S.S. Enterprise as seen in the first half-dozen motion pictures.) I miss my Original Series vessel, but am enjoying my slick ride–and especially my aft torpedo launcher.

I’ve been playing through the Klingon story arc, which in the past couple of days has turned into a massive dose of fan service. It’s like the final season of Star Trek: Enterprise, which basically said “screw it, we know only hardcore geeks are still watching” and began wallowing in references to 40-year-old episodes of Classic Trek.

So it was that I found myself on the trail of a distant descendant of Khan Noonien Singh* (The Wrath of Khan) who was experimenting with the same Augment technology that not only produced the genetic supermen of the Eugenics Wars (The Original Series) but the mutated virus (Enterprise) that accidentally transformed the Klingons from the bumpy-headed warriors of the movies into the swarthy humans of Captain Kirk’s early adventures.

Then a Klingon ambassador kidnapped the daughter of Tom Paris and B’Elanna Torres (Voyager) and took her through the Guardian of Forever (The Original Series) back to the year 2270 (The Original Series again) so that her half-Klingon DNA could be used to give the Klingons back their ridges. Oh, and I had to save the original U.S.S. Enterprise without damaging the timeline. (More Leonard Nimoy voice-over!)

Old-school Klingons!

More old-school Klingons!

Travelling back to the future (or rather, the future future), I learned that the Klingons had inexplicably gotten their hands on the planet-killing Doomsday Machine (The Original Series once more). Like Captain Kirk of old, I had to fly my ship right down its gullet and fire a super torpedo into its innards. (Ironically, I had already named my new ship the U.S.S. Decker in honor of the ill-fated commodore that was eaten by the planet-killer in the “Doomsday Machine” TV episode.**)

Honestly, the Doomsday mission was a bit of an understatement. The planet killer should’ve been introduced via a big, dramatic reveal, possibly wiping out a few starships on the way to our confrontation. Instead, it was just listlessly floating out there, getting off a single (admittedly devastating) blast before I pumped a few torpedoes into its maw.

I can only wonder what next awaits me. Will I have to save Harry Mudd from Locutus of Borg? Brave the Q Continuum in search of Spock’s father? The galaxy is the limit!

*Khaaaaaaaan!!!

**This one’s for you, William Windom!

These Are My Voyages

July 9th, 2010 No comments

As if I needed yet another way in which to fritter away my precious hours on Earth, last weekend I signed up for Star Trek Online, another role-playing game from the company that brought us Champions Online. The Trek game has been out since February, but I decided to wait until I could get it cheap. Thankfully, Steam came through with a massive Independence Day weekend sale.

I even dropped the extra couple of bucks for the “deluxe digital edition,” which came with bonus content such as Original Series uniforms and enough store credits to purchase the classic Enterprise. It wasn’t very long before I’d created a mini-skirted, go-go booted Starfleet lieutenant!

Unsurprising to anyone who knows me, Lt. Caitlin Howard is a long-legged redhead who just happens to be a distant relative of Beverly (Howard) Crusher from The Next Generation. She commands the U.S.S. Bellerophon, named after the doomed colonist ship from the movie Forbidden Planet.

Lt. Howard kicking some Gorn ass.

While much of Trek Online feels very familiar to me–having played a couple of games from the same design house–there are at least two major differences. One is that, instead of a single avatar, each player has an “away team” of five characters when participating in ground combat. The other bridge officers aren’t under direct control, but you can train ’em, outfit ’em with gear, and dress ’em however you like. (Naturally, mine are rocking the ’60s miniskirt look.)

The guy on the right is Tim the Red Shirt, the only male on my crew at the time. Also known as "the luckiest man in Starfleet."

The second big difference is space combat. Glorious, glorious space combat. While the ground portion of the game seems a little undercooked to me, the space missions are everything I could’ve hoped for. Massive starships lumber about in true Trek style, unleashing phasers, photon torpedoes, polaron beams and what-have-you.

One thing I find appealing is how intuitive space combat is to me, having played my share of Trek tabletop wargames. One has to allocate power to the various systems, and maneuver one’s ship to face the enemy’s weakest shield, all the while keeping one’s own shields charged. Most weapons have a firing arc, so if I want my Constitution-class vessel to hit that Orion cruiser with both of my phaser banks, I need to expose my flank. However, if I want to hit him with a volley of torpedoes (which I do!), I need to be facing front.

My first fleet combat went very poorly.

One thing I want to stress is how frickin’ gorgeous this game is, at least on my gaming laptop. Many of my screenshots have been desktop-worthy. Space is filled with floating asteroids, colorful gas clouds and sweeping rings.

Seriously, look at this:

And this:

The game is filled with all manner of Easter eggs for Trek fans of both generations. It’s set several decades further into the future of the original Trek universe (not the divergent timeline from the most recent feature film), and while familiar screen characters such as Picard, Sisko or Janeway don’t seem to put in an appearance, I believe I’ve encountered grown-up versions of just about every child seen on the various televised series. (Haven’t run into Worf’s son Alexander yet, but I gotta think he’s out there somewhere.)

Many familiar locations are reproduced, including Deep Space Nine, Memory Alpha and Space Station K-7 (from the classic episode “The Trouble with Tribbles”). I’ve enjoyed my scenic tour of the galaxy, but I have to admit that I’m a little disappointed that there’s not more to do in these famous locales. The fabled pleasure planet of Risa seems to consist of nothing but a bit of beachfront and a couple of boring vendors. I can’t even buy a bikini for Lt. Howard! And really, Quark’s bar on Deep Space Nine should have a Dabo Wheel minigame, or the chance to play a hand of Fizzbin.

Still, I’m enjoying what’s there quite a lot. I don’t know if it would be as much fun for those with only a casual interest in Star Trek, but as a lifelong fan who likes it when ships go boom, it’s a good time!

Set your equipment to "fan service."