My voyage through the Stars within a truly authentic Star Trek Universe has been a satisfying one. I thoroughly enjoyed the base game and it’s faithful to the popular science fiction series. It’s clear that a lot of passion for the license has gone into this free to play MMORPG. This is mostly credited to the skilled crew over at Cryptic studios and the new ownership, Form Atari to Perfect World Studios, that many credit as breathing new life into Star Trek: Online. Since then it was ported as a free-to-play to consoles and I’m more than happy to recommend that you check it out, if you haven’t already. The story continues after the supernova destroyed the Romulan homeworld Romulus in the first of the new rebooted Star Trek Movie-verse.
Ever wondered, what happened after Spock failed to save their Planet and was lost in time? What events lay ahead in the aborted timeline that many of us grew up with on the television? Well, now you get to find out while being an integral part of it. The team behind this game have done a great job of stringing the narrative together with a good spot of diplomacy, brain teasers, even jumps to the past and the mirror-verse. Meeting popular characters along the way, with a nice addition of vocals from the original cast members. Fan favourites such as Michael Dorn reprising his role as Worf and Jeri Ryan returning as Seven of Nine. They’ve even gone as far as immortalising Leonard Nimoy’s distinctive voice as Spock Prime, your narrator through the vast depths of space. One of the most outstanding features is the Starship combat that’s easy to pick up but takes time to master. The gameplay feels distinct like a naval conflict as you’re always trying to bring your bow or stern torpedoes around to unleash hell upon your opponent. All this makes for a distinctly Star Trek gaming experience with a design isn’t hugely dissimilar to Bioware’s, Star Wars: The Old Republic.
All that said, I’m not here to review the game, instead I’m taking a look at the paid for bundle packs available from the Playstation store. It’s important to note; only certain aspects of the pack will be available immediately after training. The Starships must be attained in the usual manner of leveling up the ranks to acquire them. Even though the packs are faction specific to unlock, once accessed, it is possible to choose these ships as a different faction. The only other condition is that you become allies with the same faction during the course of the main campaign. Straight off the bat, all the packs give you a spanking new small shuttle craft to replace the standard run-about the main campaign gives you. Each has distinctly higher values such as, hull strength and more console slots that allow you to affix extra buffs to the vessel. Out of the three, it’s the Federation Delta Class that stands out the most for having an extra crew station for a science officer. This is a huge advantage as you can combo crew abilities like a tractor beam and torpedo spread for heavy damage.
Each pack also provides you with a liberated Borg crew member. The Borg get a species bonus that improves the efficiency of your Starship’s engine. On the ground they give a passive health buff to your away team. They are unique crew so they give you a distinct advantage over the regular candidates. Bear in mind that they have fixed roles allocation, the Starfleet and Klingon packs give you an engineer. No problems here as the engineer is a great support unit. However, the Romulan pack gives you a Reman tactical officer. Unfortunately creates some conflict with the pack due to the Romulan faction base game. This is because you are annoyingly forced to have a tactical crew member called Tovan from the start. He’s there because the Romulan campaign revolves around him. Even when you complete the campaign you can’t dismiss him so you are stuck with him, forever. At the start you are limited to only three crew under your command. As the crew stations of the T’varo Warbird only allows one of each type of crew, the problem becomes readily apparent. You simply can’t use the Reman liberated Borg with the pack’s first Starship at that moment in time. By the time you can at level ten, you will already have unlocked the next ship in the pack. This oversight of a clear conflict is baffling, if the character was an engineer, like in the other packs, there would be no problem. Other than that you have a few skins and pets that add nothing of any real significance to the game. Along with these items you have immediate access to a Tier one vessel to replace the starter one. After that, for every ten levels, you unlock a new vessel from the pack while simultaneously unlocking those you get for free in the base game. It’s important to note that the epic level equipment can be used even on tier six ships to great effect. The epic consoles are universal so they can be place in any console slot without the usual class restrictions.
The Starfleet’s NX light escort is only marginally better than the standard issue Miranda light cruiser. However the distinct difference is that the NX comes with an epic level grappling claw console that works in the same way the tractor beam ability does. This allows you to have an extra science ability available than you’d normally have. Similarly the Romulan T’varo Light Warbird has very little difference to the T’liss outside of an extra tactical console slot and an epic Singularity Stabilizer console. Though this doesn’t seem like much, Romulan ships have the ability to use singularities in combat, yup you can create a small black hole or a tear the fabric of space. As these are extremely powerful abilities you have a singularity meter that needs to be charged in combat. You consume one bar of power per ability usage with a maximum of five bars available at any time. So, with that in mind, it’s clearly advantageous to start out with an epic console gives you two extra bars upon activation. If you choose the Klingon faction your first ship is the B’Rotlh Bird of Prey which is a refit of the standard issue B’rel. It has significant differences of having an extra science crew station, additional science console slot and an Enhance induction coils epic console that gives an active buff to the weapons and engines. All this adds up to the Klingon pack clearly giving you best edge out of the three packs in the initial phase of the game.
Upon reaching level ten, tier two ships become available. The Starfleet pack gives you the Rhode Island class Science Vessel Refit. Needless to say, as a refit it’s slightly better with a higher ranking science officer station and engineering console slot. Higher ranking stations allow you to use more powerful levels of abilities. There’s the added bonus of the epic Photonic Displacer console. This grants a buff to your stealth, though, at a detriment to your ships power settings, which isn’t all that great. It’s a mid range vessel, comparatively the Escort is full on offensive, with three forward weapons and one rear instead of the Rhode Island’s and the Cruiser’s two on either side. The biggest difference is that the Rhode Island has much less hull strength than both the Cruiser and the Escort. That said, what it lacks in physical strength it makes up for in maneuverability and speed. So expect to be heavily reliant on stealth and hit and run tactics. With the Klingon pack you get a highly offensive tactical fighter. The pack’s Qaw’Dun Bird of Prey is most similar to the QulDun. Both offer universal crew stations, while with the Qaw’Dun one of the stations is for a higher ranking officer. With this vehicle you get the epic shield destabiliser console that ravishes enemy defences in seconds. Having five consoles slots to the others only having four, allows for more buffs. The K’Tanco Battle cruiser has more crew stations, though they are set with heavy emphasis on engineering. It’s weaponry is two front and two back which makes up for having almost half the turn rate of the Qaw’Dun. The Somraw Raptor comes close to matching the Qaw’Dun, again, with more crew stations that are fixed though this time with a focus on offence. With the Romulan pack the Dhael Warbird is identical to the standard Dhelan but clearly superior with an addition crew station that’s universal, an extra console slot and the epic Singularity Inverter. Not only does this device reduce all incoming damage it also charges your singularity gauge every time you’re hit. This time it’s the Romulan Dhael Warbird that’s the best upgrade from what’s on offer.
Tier three Starships unlock at level twenty, this is kind of a halfway point so the base game offering mostly heavy class vehicles. For fans of Star Trek the Starfleet pack offers you the Excelsior class advanced heavy cruiser that’s featured in the third installment of the original movies, The search for Spock. In the spirit of the movie, this ship has a transwarp drive allowing to go beyond regular warp for faster travel through space. Even though there’s no epic components, it dwarfs most of the alternatives on offer for free. As should be expected the heavy cruiser is very close but has one less Tactical console slot and one of the engineer stations is for a lower rank. For the Klingon ships it’s a similar situation with the Koro’t’inga Battle cruiser only having a slight edge over the standard K’t’inga. It does have an Magnetometric generator epic console that can be used to keep your enemies at a distance while giving them minor damage. Though the universal crew stations seem desirable on the Norgh Bird of Prey, the pay off simply isn’t worth it when compared to the other ships. Though not as powerful, the Qorgh Raptor is a nice mid-ground craft with a nice balance of speed and heavy offence. Again the Romulan offering is simply choose the Valdore Heavy Warbird as it’s just an upgraded version of the Mogai you get for free. The epic level Shield Absorptive Frequency Generator vampires shields by attacking enemies, this is a passive trait when equipped. Additionally it has a universal crew station and an extra tactical console slot. There’s no real clear winner here as they are all so close to what you get from the base game anyway.
Upon reaching level thirty the fourth tier of vehicles opens up. At this point the Starfleet standard issue vehicles include, a Voyager looking long range space vessel and an Exploration cruiser similar to The Next Generation’s Enterprise. There’s also a Tactical escort but since the Sao Paulo is a tactical escort retrofit it’s clearly not even in the running here. As cool as the others may look the Sao Paulo is better in almost every way. The Exploration Cruiser comes closest and has an addition rear weapon placement. However, the Sao Paulo has far better speed and maneuverability while boasting an extra crew station and tactical console slot. Instead of an epic you get an ultra-rare quad-cannon weapon. The Klingon Empire pack offers comparatively the same kind of thing. The Purjaq Raptor outmatches everything besides the Vorçha Battle cruiser that it beats by having extra tactical crew stations, consoles and sheer speed and maneuverability. Only the Purjaq Raptor does have an epic that’s a graviton pulse generator. This can cripple ships, bringing them to a crawl and making them easy prey. With the Romulan faction the D’ridthau Warbird Battlecruiser is basically an upgraded version of the D’deridex. Leaving only the Ar’Kif tactical Warbird that, although faster, is weaker in every other area.The extra features the D’ridthau has over the D’deridex is an extra universal crew station and an engineering console slot. It also has an epic Molecular Phase Inversion Filed Generator that increases damage resistance while increasing the ship’s speed. The Klingon Purjaq Raptor is clearly the ship with most to offer when compared to what you currently get for free.
The best part about these packs happens at level forty as you get to skip right on to the sixth and final tier of ships. There’s no point even comparing these to the ones you get for free as they objectively surpass them so, let’s just have a look at what you get. The final Starfleet ship is non other than the valiant class, better know to Star Trek fans as the model of the Defiant. It’s basically a vastly superior version of the Sao Paulo with an epic Quantum torpedo module. This vehicle is every bit as fast and devastating as it should be. The final ship in the Klingon Empire pack is the formidable Negh’Tev Battlecruiser. It’s as slow as a snail but with extremely heavy armour and four weapon placements on the front and four on the rear it doesn’t have to be fast. Additionally it has epic Molecular Cohesion Nullifier console that stacks damage and resistance based on the amount of ships nearby. This ship modded right can become an unstoppable tank that slowly carves a path through your enemies. Last, but by no means least, is the Malem Light Warbird. A fast and nimble ship with heavy emphasis on a string offense and an epic quantum torpedo module, it’s basically the Romulan equivalent of the Starfleet Valiant class.
Even if you skipped the ships and bought all the epic consoles, these packs works out much cheaper than simply buying Yen to get them separately. The superfluous stuff like skins and pets don’t even factor into the overall price. The packs clearly give you good head start and a definite edge over the free ships while not being so overpowered that it feels like pay to win. The Starfleet pack never really gives you any ships that are worlds apart from what you get for free, until you get the final ship. It seems to be more like fan service with iconic vehicles but I see nothing wrong with that. Especially considering some of the most iconic Starfleet vehicle models already come for free. The Klingon Empire Pack really shines throughout by having vessels that provide a distinct advantage. Leading nicely up to the Negh’Tev Battlecruiser, a nice beasty machine fitting for a Klingon Warrior. The Romulan Legacy is severely let down at the start by some really silly conflicts between the pack and the base game. After a bumpy start to the content it eventually gets better about half way through. Considering the calibre of ships the Romulans have, the final ship may be a bit of a damp squib for some that would probably have expected more.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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