Like many of you, many of us are huge Star Trek fans. It not only shaped everyone's view of technology from a young age, it's arguably one of the driving forces of technology today. And now you can live it.
Here's a quick intro to what Star Trek Online is all about. It's about 30 years after the last Next Generation movie. You play an ensign that gets promoted (like new Kirk) to Captain because every officer above him gets killed. It's a hell of a way to climb the rankings, but it leads to you being placed in command of your own starship, but still being green enough to require tutelage into how everything works.
You spend half your time controlling a ship and half the time on the ground with an away team.
The space part
This is by far the more satisfying part. Who hasn't wanted to sit in Picard, Kirk, Scott Bakula or any of the lesser captain's chairs and order people to fire everything? Who can say that they haven't wanted to smoothly say "make it so" and have something—besides your wife giving you dirty looks—happen? This is that.
Although the main philosophies of the Star Trek universe revolve around exploration, and peace, and diplomacy, blowing shit up has always been the reward for sitting through Picard's flute playing. And this is supremely satisfying. Phasers and photon torpedoes fire with the correct sound effects, Klingon cruisers explode with a bass-rattling pppptththhhbbffffooooo, and maneuvering the cruise ship-like vessels feels natural, not clunky.
The ground part
And here is where the developers need more work. The bugs are evident, from the fact that you sometimes materialize on the ground as a starship, or when your away team fails to beam down with you, or when certain mission objectives are gone entirely. The game's still in open beta, which is why we're giving our impressions now, so there's time to get everything in better shape before launch.
On the whole, the ground portion feels like a more Star Trekked version of City of Heroes, which was made by the same developer, Cryptic. It's tolerable (fun, even), but going on away team missions wasn't exactly the funnest part of the show. It's what Picard sent Riker to do while he sipped tea in his ready room.
Next time, on Star Trek..
We'll go more in depth about how the mission structure works, how leveling up/advancing in rank gets you more access to ships, and how closely the game stays to the established Trek "feel" that everyone is used to. Plus, what pre-order bonuses you should get in on.
If you want more coverage, check out Kotaku's Star Trek Online page. We're going to mostly focus on how the game appeals to Star Trek fans, but if you want more info about how the game is as a game, Kotaku's got you covered.