"Guess who's coming to dinner" - Pavel Chekov
That is of course the folks at Cryptic and all the STO followers, the big dogs have definitely eaten the last few weeks. There has been tons of new information on Star Trek Online with lots of gameplay footage and hands on impressions from the demo at PAX. With so many updates with PAX, PC Gamer Magazine and the Official Star Trek convention in Vegas, it's hard to soak it all in. PC Gamer shined a light on the game with multiple different covers, the first since the Game Informer article last fall.
First, I would like to cover some of the PC Gamer article in case you missed it, or need a rehash of the relevant information. If you read my last article "Capturing the Essence", I stressed that if the game did not feel like Trek, or capture the characters and vital storytelling, I felt there would be problems. The first thing at caught my attention on the PC Gamer article written by Dan Stapleton and Even Lahti:
"Let's be frank: most Star Trek games didn't even come close to offering the full Star Trek experience."
That pretty much hits the nail on the head. STO will be the closest any Trek game has come in bringing the experience to the players. The article continues to talk about a mission where they engage the Klingons in battle, using Tractor Beams and Photon Torpedoes to neutralize some Birds of Prey in an episodic mission. You can use the normal WASD controls for ship movement, and your ship yields normal shields and hull strength. Regarding shields the article reads, "Shields are represented by a broken blue ring around a ship. The weaker the shield, the thinner the barrier and the more damage seeps past it to the hull".
Your Captain will be able to specialize in a certain career, consisting of Tactical, Engineering, and Science. There has been tons of emphasis on ground combat, the article continues to talk about ground combat being very run and gun based on your bridge crew members beaming down to the planet with you. The combat also brings different things to the table such as force fields, medical equipment and turrets for defense.
PAX in Seattle offers tons of new relevant information about ground combat and missions. For pictures of the STO booth, please check out the wonderful folks at Hailing Frequency, they have posted some pictures and additional info here.
The Cryptic Team also went to Gamescom in Germany to support the European gamers and show off STO, with tons of new information and video. Some fantastic videos of gameplay and such have been posted on YouTube again by the wonderful folks at HF, and Part 1 can be found here.
Next, which is my favorite, is the beta. Everyone loves the beta, maybe except for McCoy. The Official press release is as follows:
New York, NY (September 4, 2009) – Atari and Cryptic Studios announced today that players can now sign up for a chance to participate in the closed beta test for Star Trek Online. This highly anticipated massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) is set in the celebrated Star Trek universe and is the first MMO to offer both space and ground game play.
Players and fans can apply for beta test access by visiting www.startrekonline.com. A select number of closed beta keys will be given away through the website. Players who take part in the beta are able to experience the game early, but also report bugs and provide feedback to producers during development.
“Closed beta registration is an important step in bringing Star Trek Online to the public,” said Craig Zinkievich, Executive Producer on Star Trek Online. “We are looking toward the launch of our first-of-a-kind MMORPG with anticipation and excitement and we expect Star Trek Online to explode onto the scene, giving fans and gamers a Star Trek experience like no other.”
Star Trek Online will be the first MMORPG to feature space and ground combat at launch. Missions will take players into the depths of space, across exotic planets, and even inside starships! As the Captain of your very own ship, it’s up to you to lead your crew on missions that span a number of locations. You call the shots, no matter where you are.
Impressive! Who would have thought we would be this close to closed beta? The tentative release date is set for early next year which would definitely make sense for a closed beta in the near future. Cryptic seems to be on track for release, with a playable demo at PAX to show the progress they have made. As for my opinion, the game is truly looking promising, it is very difficult to touch all areas in Star Trek, and the developer Cryptic looks like they are trying to cover all areas as much as they can. The graphics and sound look pristine from the videos I have watched, which I think everyone is very excited about.