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STAR TREK ONLINE For Xbox, PlayStation 4
Star Trek Online is not a new game. Originally launched on PC in 2010, Online has been growing and improving for the last six years. At first it was met with mediocrity, but like most massive multiplayer online role-playing games, the title has evolved so much over time that the game that launched six years ago is not the same game today.
September 6 marked the release of Online on Microsoft’s and Sony’s consoles, and with it some welcome improvements. While it may not be a new game in the traditional sense, it might as well be; the game has been given a second wind on consoles, and is definitely the best version of developer Cryptic’s love song to the 50-year-old franchise.
Much has been made of Star Trek Online‘s redesigned control scheme. Whereas PC players had 72 buttons to use, consoles players have no such luxury. A simple seven-button control pad is all Cryptic had to work with for Star Trek Online, and therefore, a substantial redesign was needed for the game’s control scheme.
As you can see in the screenshot above, the heads up display is not nearly as cluttered as its PC counterpart, and each ability (in the lower right-hand corner) is mapped to a particular button on the controller. In the upper right-hand corner, near the mini-map, players can simply hold A for a list of options, like the ability to scan the area and adjust the camera angle, among others. PC veterans may be asking where the rest of a captain’s abilities are, and in response Cryptic has designed a radical menu, the kind that is utilized more and more games nowadays, to easily display abilities in the heat of combat. The same UI applies for space combat, where the HUD is equally clear and accessible.
An equally noticeable improvement to the console version is the enhanced graphics engine. The lighting has essentially been redone from the ground up, meaning environments look more realistic and ship and character models look more believable. These improvements mean the game packs a decent visual punch, leading to such moments as this vista seen from the Klingon shipyard:
This isn’t to say the game is on par with other popular console releases; character animations are hilariously wooden, lip sync is noticeably off, and environment materials, like textures and props, often don’t load together, leading to a jarring interruption. These are faults the game carried through from the PC version, and is likely simply a result of MMORPG development (they are never as graphically sophisticated as other genres due to the sheer amount of material in the game). Nevertheless, STO has never looked better, especially for those who might have previously played on low to mid-range PCs.