First Contact with Consoles
Under two months ago Perfect World ported their Dungeons and Dragons based MMO Neverwinter to the PS4. They did a pretty good job with that conversion. Granted it wasn’t their first attempt because it had already been on the Xbox One for a few months but it seems to have hit on all cylinders. Hot on the trail of that release Perfect World is back again with another port of an IP rich MMO. However this time instead of a staggered releases they have launched Star Trek Online simultaneously for the Xbox One and PS4.
Due out today, Perfect World opened up the servers over the labor day weekend for media to have some hands on time with the game in advanced. Since this was a holiday weekend and the servers were only up for about 72 hours if you blinked you would have missed the access. While I wasn’t able to sink a ton of time into the game I did manage to make my way through the tutorials and get a feel for the two different types of modes you’ll experience the game in.
When you first log into the game and accept the Terms of Service you’ll be prompted to make a new character. In this universe the alliance between the Klingons and the Federation has failed. You’ll get to choose between the Federation, Klingon, and Romulans. It is worth noting that this appears to take place in the Prime Universe and not the Kelvin Universe (formerly the Abramsverse).
Since I loathe to play the goody two shoes in MMOs I decided to throw my hat in with the Klingons. Give me trial of combat over talking any day in my video games. The opening storyline didn’t disappoint. It did, however, leave one to question whether or not the Federation is as squeaky clean as they would like you to believe. As the second officer of a Klingon Bird of Prey you’ll discover that the captain has sold out your ship and crew to the Federation to save his own flea ridden hide. You challenge him to become captain of the ship through a duel to the death. You can probably guess the outcome (if you died it would make for a pretty quick and boring game). Combat is a bit clunky. While this is a fresh port it isn’t a new game. You can maneuver on your enemies for cover and flank them for bonus damage so it isn’t all just standing toe to toe and shooting phasers at each other until one of you falls down dead. This opening sequence really did meet my expectations of what it meant to be Klingon. Honor and strength are respected above all else and these missions emphasized that.
After you kill the captain and become the new captain you’ll transition to the next phase of the game, space exploration and combat. I don’t want to say this is where the game really shines because unfortunately for me it didn’t really shine anywhere, but this was definitely an improvement over the avatar mode.
While exploring the cosmos you get a full range of 360 degree motion. You are not stuck on a plane either. You’ll be able to make use of the X,Y, and Z axis. In order to power your ship and upgrade your systems you’ll be required to explore and mine for new resources. You’ll also encounter enemy hostile ships. This is when that full range of maneuvering will come in handy. You’ll want to move around in combat. Ships don’t just have one shield. Their shields are broken down into sections. As you're attacked you can divert energy from one section to the other. Your enemies can do the same. Once you get their shields down you can destroy them. It was slightly satisfying to watch the Federation ships go POOF! In space.
So far I find the game very hit or miss. On the plus side you’ll level up your character and your ship. Finding upgrades for both of them as you progress. There is a lot of voiceover work in the opening sequences and while they won’t win an academy award it wasn’t terrible either. On the other side of the coin the user interface is a bit garish. It’s entirely too big and takes up anywhere from 20 to 25% of your screen at any time. The game is also starting to look it’s age. This fact can’t be blamed on the consoles. It’s a six year old game and beginning to look a bit worse for wear.
If you are a big fan of Star Trek and MMOs downloading this for the Xbox or PS4 is probably a no brainer. If you don’t consider yourself a fan of either of those I don’t think there is enough here to warrant you wasting your time on the download. It’s great to see more MMOs hit the consoles but unfortunately they can’t always be a winner.