In case you missed Part I...you can find it here.
Last week I went on a super nerd rant about why, as a Star Trek fan (loser), I greatly dislike the new J.J. Abrams movie. All this week I've had a chance to play Cryptic Studio's Star Trek Online in an effort to compare and contrast the two titles' interpretation of the Star Trek universe. First a little lesson in future history.
Star Trek Online takes place in the year 2409 A.D., which is roughly 30 years after the events of Star Trek Nemesis, which is the last of the Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG for short [nerds]) films. Since TNG, Spock finds some red matter (Kool Aid: you all drank it) and decides to ignore the Temporal Prime Directive and everything he ever learned at Starfleet Academy by going back in time to ANOTHER dimension, to the J.J. Abrams Star Trek universe where everything is like the 1950s but in space (original Star Trek was shot in the 1960s…close J.J.). It is during this timeline that the events of Star Trek Online unfold, untouched as a continuation of the original Gene Rodenberry Star Trek universe. Starfleet is again at war with its favorite frenemy, The Klingon Empire, which went all Keiser Willhelm on everyone's ass and started a huge war (space history repeats itself). Whew…pretty complicated right? Just think Back to the Future II and you'll be fine. Except, Biff = Klingons…or…KlingBiffs. Here is a very scientific and accurate timeline I've made to help you understand. It's to scale.
In addition to being at war with the Klingon Empire, the Federation is also being harassed by the Gorn. You may remember the Gorn from the Original Star Trek…Captain Kirk shoots one in the bicep with his home made gun (blunderbuss). They're bad guys so it's ok. You can play as either the Klingons/Gorn or the Federation, each of which consists of multiple playable races. Now, I've only played this game for about ten hours, so I'm still getting used to the space combat, which isn't actually 3D based (oh THREE D). You're enclosed in a horizon-based rectangle with a ceiling and floor which doesn't allow you to flip or do cool-ass tricks with your starship. Also, you can't warp in or out of battle, much like not being able to mount in battle in World of Warcraft (Picard Maneuver).
Aside from that, this game does a great job of putting you into the Star Trek universe. You get to micromanage your ship, your avatar, and your ship's officers (hot Vulcans). While playing, you get upgrades to weapons and defenses for both your character and ship (spinners and grillz). Choosing a class should be simple for any Star Trek fan who is familiar with bridge assignments. You can choose between tactical officer, science officer, or engineer. This is the same for the Klingon option (Horde). From what I've experienced in far, the game is fairly enjoyable. That being said, there is room for improvement and expansion. The action may seem to move slowly at times, mostly when traveling from planet to planet (RL Relativity). Also, the space combat is basically a spam fest while firing weapons, although maneuvering shield arrays and such requires some basic strategy…just like in STAR TREK! I've read lots of complaints about end-game content…in that apparently there is none (whoops). I haven't gotten that far yet so I'm not sure, but if you want to fly around and pretend you're a Starfleet captain for a few days, try it out.
As far as the comparison with the J.J. Trek-verse, Star Trek Online wins hands down. You get to go on first contact missions (ohai), explore the galaxy (your mom), save colonies and new races from certain doom (srs bsns), and blow up mass ships (PIKEEEEEW). Basically, you get to do all the boring stuff that makes Star Trek a great universe to play around in. It encompasses a wide variety of well established formulae that helped make the franchise a household name for decades. The game uses those same premises even though it takes place in a new time period where most of the beloved characters from TNG are still in the game's lore as well as introducing you to a new chapter in the Star Trek story arc. Abrams took arguably the most beloved Star Trek characters from the original series and just hit the big old reset button, doing himself a great disservice in the process. Though some of the more overt qualities of the characters are there (Kirk banging space sluts) the overall feel of the characters, for me, fell short. How do you out-Shatner Shatner? I will say that Karl Urban did a good job though as Boners...that's his name, right? Now when you and your D&D friend (boyfriend) argue over who was the better captain, Picard or Kirk, you have to take into account that Abrams' Kirk is part of the canon of Star Trek, thus making every argument that is pro-Kirk pretty much invalid (Picard vs. Quantum Leap?). At the very least, I'm glad there is a remnant of the old Trek left in our universe.
Hopefully both the game AND the inevitable series of sequels to the movie improve. Star Trek is not an air tight universe, mostly because there's not a lot of air in space. If the movie brings in more fans for the franchise, than I guess it can serve some good (half assed "glass is half full"). I just ask that if you are new to Star Trek and the Abrams' film introduced you to the universe, you do yourself a favor and watch all of the original series and films. If you are a J.J. Star Trek fan, you can come over and watch them with me. I'll make mini-wieners and we can drink hot cocoa (traditional offering). I think that's what Captain Kirk and Captain Picard would want: mutual understanding and respect for each other's cultures and tastes. After all, that's what Star Trek is all about (lame). That and blowing up ships and shooting aliens with "guns".
Josh Henderson is an actor/writer who invented warp drive.