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Beyond the MMORPG: Star Trek Legacy

Managing Editor Jon Wood recently had a gaming experience that left a bad taste in his mouth, and he has chosen to share that flavor with us in this week's Beyond the MMORPG.

Beyond the MMORPG: Star Trek Legacy
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This week in Beyond the MMORPG, I wanted to take a quick look at what I consider to be the single worst game that I've ever played for a console, and how that might effect the production of an upcoming MMORPG. Don't think it's possible? You just wait and see.

Okay, the game in question, I should say, is the first and only game that I have ever, ever played for only two hours and then took back to EB Games. I couldn't get a full refund on it, but I did trade it in. The game was so bad, in fact, that I didn't wait until there was something out that I wanted, and I currently have a gift card for EB with the price of the trade-in on it.

After a lead up like that, I suppose I should just out and tell you the name of the game. It's Star Trek: Legacy. On the surface (and from the boc), this game looked like it was going to be a winner. It billed itself as "The quintessential Trek experience", included storylines written by Trek mainstay D.C. Fontana and used the voices of all five captains.

The game had players flying starships (from all of the Trek eras) and engaging in "real-time Starfleet combat". I think that this was where the game lost me. The flight system was really far too complex for the average gamer to really get a quick handle on. I tried, and I had a basic feel for it, but it just wasn't fun.

Since we're not a site that reviews games like this, I'll just point you to some of the other reviews from some other sites: IGN - 5.9, Gamespot - 5.8.

Even if you don't take the time to read those, you can see from the scores that the game really wasn't "up to snuff". The thing is, I know how hard it can be to make a game based on a popular IP. I know that when I went into that store, I had a certain preconception about what it was I was going to get when I got home. When the game didn't meet those standards, I stopped playing. The unfair thing is that there was no real way for the developers of this game to know what my expectations were. The really unfair thing is that I don't even know if I could tell you what I was expecting. Sure, I could sit here and analyze it, but that's not what the average person is going to do for a game based on their favorite IP. Instead, when it comes to a favorite IP, reactions generally come from the gut.

This is why I fear the release of Perpetual Entertainment's Star Trek Online. Not only do they face the same challenges outlined above, but there is also a key difference between Star Trek Online and Star Trek Legacy: monthly fee.

Once I stepped out of that EB Games, I had already paid all of the money that the developers were going to get out of me. Did I feel ripped off? Not really. I could have read those reviews beforehand. Was I once again soured by a Star Trek video game? Sure. Would I have continued to give them my money, month after month? No. After playing this game, I wondered what that meant for a game like Star Trek Online. Are all Star Trek fans as picky as I am? Will the pre-conceptions of what an open Star Trek universe should be like be enough to insure that nothing the developers do can live up to enough people's expectations?

No, I'm not naive enough to sit here and say: "because one Star Trek game didn't meet my expectations, none of them will." What I am saying is that my expectations for a Star Trek game (and especially a Star Trek MMO) are higher just because it's Star Trek. It isn't going to be enough for Perpetual to make a good MMO, and it's not going to be enough for them to make a good Star Trek game. Somehow, the developers at Perpetual are going to have to essentially read the minds of Star Trek fans to find a balance that the largest number of us will feel fits our own personal visions.

Sure this article has brought up more questions than it's given answers, but I do know one thing. I will be walking into that same EB Games when Star Trek Online releases. They'll get my initial $59.99. Will they get my monthly fee? We shall see.