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Video Game of the Week – Star Trek Online

Last week, Cryptic Studios finally released the much-anticipated massively multi-player online role-playing game (MMORPG), Star Trek Online.

Despite its storied history, the Star Trek franchise has never produced a blockbuster video game. Earlier releases like Star Trek: Armada and Star Trek: Elite Force II still have their ardent fan bases, but there is nothing that remotely compares to Star Trek's popularity on TV and at the multiplex.

Star Trek Online aims to change all that. As a MMORPG, the publishers hope to attract millions of players from around the world to participate in the well-constructed gameplay, fighting battles, discovering new worlds and working together to achieve common goals.

The game starts in 2409, approximately 30 years after the events in Star Trek Nemesis. Technology has advanced and the galaxy is a much more volatile place. The United Federation of Planets is at war with the Klingon Empire, as well as the Borg.

Players have the opportunity to play either as a Federation member or as a Klingon. As a Federation member, they can be a Human, a Vulcan, an Andorian or any of the other races from the Star Trek Universe. Players can also create an alternative race, with its own custom look and characteristics.

Gameplay takes place on land or in space. While on land, players can move their character around, take on enemies and interact with the environment. In space, players command their own ship and have the ability to explore far-off galaxies, as well as defend their own territories against invaders.

Cryptic is hoping that they will be able to attract a new generation of Star Trek fans, and not just rely on devout Trekkies, many of whom are fast-approaching middle-age. Although the game is steeped in Star Trek lore, no special knowledge of the franchise is required to start playing.

The game is available as a download for Windows-based PCs (XP or later) and costs $59.99. A monthly subscription, starting at $14.99, is also required. Cryptic promises to continue development of the game and will regularly add updates as part of the subscription package

The game is rated "Teen" (age 13 and older) for "fantasy violence" and "suggestive themes". Although there is lots of fighting and weaponry, there is no blood and the dialogue is no worse than a regular TV episode of Star Trek.

The MMORPG format means that players could encounter anyone online, but robust chat and gameplay filters have been added to make it more kid-friendly.             

Publisher/Developer: Atari/Cryptic Studios
Platforms: Windows PC
Genre:     Sci-Fi MMORPG
RRP: $59.99, plus monthly subscription
ESRB Rating: "T" for Teen

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