Trek Wreck?

The Star Trek franchise has enjoyed huge success in the television and film industries, but despite volumes of content to draw upon and a plethora of devoted fans, most Star Trek games have fallen someway short of the mark. Perpetual Entertainment recently announced the tentatively titled Star Trek Online, an MMORPG set for a 2007 release. The thought of a Star Trek MMO at long last sounds great, but considering the already saturated MMO market and Star Trek’s less-than-stellar track record in the gaming industry, we’re left to wonder if this game will fulfill our expectations or boldly go straight to the local bargain bins.

The MMO scene has also had its fair share of problems – most noticeably a distinct lack of content. City of Heroes (April 2004), due to its lack of pvp, offers very little beyond the leveling of one’s character, and won’t offer pvp until at least 2005. And what does that mean? Well, it means that when you’re done power-leveling your character you may as well delete it and start a fresh one – because you’ve finished. Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided, on the other hand, offers plenty for players to do, and even included pvp right from its summer 2003 release.

Unfortunately, Galaxies’ release was an unmitigated disaster plagued by crashing servers, and now, more than a year later, we still await the release of the space expansion due in October 2004. Even Final Fantasy XI, with a decent amount of content, was on the market for many months before pvp was incorporated.

Will a Star Trek MMO combine the worst from both gaming worlds? Will sloppy AI, broken patches and slowdown merge with crashing servers and once again condemn players to a massive world devoid of content?

Gamers should consider that there are very few Star Trek titles worth spending money on once – let alone on a monthly basis. Programs such as Star Trek: Starship Creator, Star Trek: The Next Generation – Birth of the Federation, Star Trek: Voyager – Elite Force, and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Dominion Wars left me wondering when game companies will finally realize that it takes more than flashy graphics and a lucrative license to constitute a good game. Even a Star Trek nerd like me was left with a bad taste in my mouth after dredging through some of the aforementioned titles.

In 1998, Simon & Schuster brought forth Star Trek: Starship Creator. The most obvious flaw with this novelty item, disguised as a video game, was that only limited aesthetic alteration of a ship’s appearance was possible, and to only a few specific sections, such as the saucer or engines. Players couldn’t swap parts from one ship to another, create parts from scratch, or do much of anything creatively. Last, and certainly least, changes in appearance didn’t alter a vessel’s specifications or performance.

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