Star Trek Online Preview for PC

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Space combat is considered, not frantic.
Space combat is considered, not frantic.

Space combat is considered, not frantic.

In this example, Sasa Mira has the Photon Torpedo Salvo power, a photon spread that fires off multiple torpedoes - Andy can only fire one at a time. As Sasa levels up, as you train her up, that power becomes much more useful, to the point where she can fire off three or four torpedoes at a time.

Andy's starship fires phasers and photons - the iconic sound effects bursting our ear drums. Battle is a slow, considered process, but then something happens that gets everyone excited: one Klingon ship explodes in a puff of sparks. Then the other. Then the other. In STO, when the warp core of a ship explodes, it actually does damage to nearby ships. It's a chain reaction of galactic proportions. Andy lets out a little cheer.

"It's only the second time - nicely done - you ended up getting all three to die at one point in time," congratulates Craig. "So good job cutting the demo short! We can't show all the cool combo stuff now."

Craig is left to explain the cool combo stuff instead. Have your science officer use the Tachyon Beam power, for example, to drop an enemy's shield, then go in with your tactical officer's Photon Torpedo Salvo. Or use the Tractor Beam to pull your enemy up close before weakening their hull with an engineering power. The possibilities are many and varied.

Which is good, because space combat, at least at face value, looks a tad boring. More will be gleamed from a hands-on of course, but the key question to answer now is: will space combat be compelling and intense enough not to feel like an irritating hoop that must be jumped through in order to get to the meat of the game? What we suspect will be the case is that space combat will be better played than watched, and, actually, will be thoroughly intense. Craig, to his credit, is willing to defend Cryptic's design decision.

Boooooo!

Boooooo!

"These aren't small ships, they aren't fighters zipping around dogfighting," he insists. "These are massive starships with great firepower and hundreds of people on most of the crews. We wanted to make space combat feel like that in STO. It's all about balancing and moving power from shields that have power to your weaker shields. It's about your power levels - whether or not you have power routed to your engines, your shields, your auxiliary systems or your weapons. It's about facing and positioning. It's about whittling down your enemy's weakest shields, getting to that side, and then attacking them with a photon torpedo barrage to take them out." Good point.

With the Klingon ships dispatched, it's on to the next part of the episode: Andy needs to beam down to the planet to save Vulcan monks from the sharp end of a Klingon Batleth. STO is clearly divided into two gameplay types: in space and on ground, but allows seamless transition between the two. The exact time split between the two isn't known right now, but it's clear that players will spend much of their time yo-yoing between planets and starships.

Away missions always require a group of five. If you're playing with four other players, you'll all be captains. If you're going solo you get to choose which bridge officers should fill the gaps - an important decision, as it determines the kind of gameplay experience you'll enjoy. Here, in the wonderfully named "Away Team Picker" screen, Andy has the aforementioned Hope, Jinn, Sasa Mira and the mysterious Red Shirt for company (don't tell him, but we reckon poor old Red Shirt doesn't stand much chance of surviving).

There are various types of officers available, each one with a different on ground role. Tactical officers, for example, take and deal loads of damage. Medical officers heal, predictably. Engineers lay down emitters and turrets. As a captain, your class, or career as it's called in the game, is decided upon when you create your character: tactical, engineering or science. While careers grant you a small number of powers, the developer's goal is that your choice should be a broad one. In any case, eventually you'll even be able to cross train within the careers.

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Game Stats

Release Date: 05/02/2010
Developer: Cryptic Studios
Publisher: Atari
Genre: Sci-Fi RPG
No. Players: 1 + Online
Rating: PEGI 12+
Site Rank: 1,294 99
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