STO: Cutting The CordMarch 7, 2011
So ends Star Trek Online’s Cloaked Intentions series with the feature episode “Cutting the Cord” which premiered Saturday. While it might not have been as epic as last week’s episode (but then, what is?) it was still a finale worthy of the words “kick-ass”.
One other thing: I managed to rope my husband into doing the FEs again with me last weekend. He’d lost interest in the game earlier this year and trying to get him back into it was like pulling teeth. The man is not easily impressed and usually over-critical when it comes to the handling of his precious Star Trek. I was a little wary of what he might think as we caught up with the episodes of this series, but I needn’t have worried — Mr. MMOGC had nothing but good things to say about the experience, and days after he is still praising “Coliseum”. I just wanted to mention this before my review as a testament to the good work Cryptic and the STO team has done.
Note: Spoilers in the text and screenshots
Okay, so Starfleet has finally clued in on to the severity of the situation. But while Command is open to helping Obisek and his people fight for freedom against Hakeev, they wish to do it discreetly. First, they’ll need more information on the Romulan’s relationship with the Iconians before they proceed, and someone needs to get in there and nab Hakeev. Guess who gets the privilege!
Throughout this whole mission, I just thought of myself as the leader of a strike team. The most disorganized, unprepared and incompetent strike team in the history of the Federation, perhaps, but my objectives were clear as day — infiltrate the Tal Shiar base on Brea, beam down and clear it out, take Hakeev alive for questioning. Never mind that we were detected in orbit as soon as we dropped out of warp. Never mind that our transporter went wonky and beamed my away team into different places. Never mind someone forgot to tell Starfleet Command that T’Androma doesn’t do alive. OOPS!
Of course, all thoughts of the mission left my head as soon as we reached the surface of the planet. For a couple minutes, all I did was gawk and take screenshots while my poor husband waited patiently for me to get pictures from all the interesting angles. I wish I could make panoramic shots of this gorgeous tableau. Despite the harsh yellow light reminiscent of smog in a pollution-choked city, the artwork was stunning. It’s nice to see something more than just squat angular structures on a flat desert ground.
And the urban setting made this map a lively little battleground. The novelty of fighting above ground is already something. I’m so used to seeing a vast, sprawling empty piece of land in this game that it was a real thrill to be traversing a map that was built up “vertically”. Multi-level maps are different and good. It also made for some really cool mischief.
Another reason why this map was such a great battleground — all the buildings and balconies and catwalks make for a pretty formidable maze. Of course, you can simply follow the fighting like we did and not get lost, but Cryptic has thought of everything and included a “Virtual Guide Path” system players can activate in case they need to know which way to go for the next objective.
You don’t really need these blue lines to show you where to go since the catwalks are straight and generally do not fork, but I thought I’d activate it and take a couple screenshot to illustrate to my readers just the sheer scope of this “multi-levelness”. Check it out:
The Tal Shiar fighters appear to be out in full force! Apparently, they have Spider-Men among them, as they are literally raining down on me from the rooftops above. It is a bloody warzone out here, in this pitched battle between Hakeev’s people and my own. But still…where is Hakeev himself? Ah, figures the little craven has gone and hidden himself behind one of his forcefields.
As if I didn’t have enough problems already, my officers inform me that an Iconion transmitter has crippled our ship’s systems with a virus. What the? Whose turn was it to update the McAfee? Ugh, if I manage to live through this, I promise there will be demotions for all.
Obisek himself shows up for the final showdown against Hakeev. Hey, not that I’m ungrateful for the extra support, Obi, but now that there are a gazillion witnesses I’m actually going to have to attempt to take Hakeev alive. But of course, I’m sure as a last act to spite me, he dies anyway. Such is T’Andy’s life.
Luckily, we find an encrypted PADD on Hakeev that references the location of an Iconian gateway not too far from us. It had to be obliterated, of course.
Time for a Trek lore break! If I recall correctly, the Iconians were an ancient civilization that was wiped out long ago. According to Memory Alpha, ancient texts refered to them as the “Demons of Air and Darkness”, and their advanced gateway technology was what enabled them to appear at will on far-flung planets without the use of any starships.
Ooh, are we going encounter these mysterious “demons”? Cryptic has done such a good job building up these guys in the last few episodes. I find myself actually squirming in my seat with anticipation as we beam back out to space…
…TO A FULL OUT ROMULAN SPACE BATTLE! And will you believe it, the Empress Sela herself graces us with her presence, showing up in her mighty warship the Leahval. Sorry, your royal worshipfulness, but there’s only room for one crazy bitch in this galaxy and T’Andy’s not about to be outdone!
What. A. Climax. And what a twist! A weird looking asteroid nearby turns out to be an Iconian gateway. Chills ran up my arms as I watched as the Leahval was drawn into the mysterious portal. Was Empress Sela going willingly? Or was this development as much a surprise to her as it was to me? Oh boy, good show, Cryptic, good show. I am absolutely delighted.
The strength of “Cutting the Cord” was in its combat, which I felt was the main focus for this episode. Unlike some of the previous installments in this series, there wasn’t much problem solving and opportunities for diplomacy, which isn’t necessarily a criticism, just an observation. We do need some balance and variety of objectives between the FEs, after all. When all is said and done, this mission was relatively straightforward.
The story, however, was something different entirely. I liked the plot twists, and I appreciate how STO is attempting to move the Star Trek story forward. The Cloaked Intentions arc didn’t simply feel like a series of missions…it felt like a book I wanted to read, if you know what I mean. It had elements from the different Star Trek shows and a sense of cohesiveness that made it very memorable.
And we made a new friend, aww. Somehow, I think I knew we were going to get a Reman bridge officer as a reward. It must have hit me the moment we started working with Slamek from last week’s “Coliseum” episode, even though he did turn out to be a dirty, stinking traitor. You also get a quest to talk to Obisek upon completion of the FE, where he wraps up the story for you nicely and even gifts you with a new floor trophy. How thoughtful! I love a young man with manners. I am also glad to have been his ally, because when he’s not messing around with deadly thalaron weapons he can be a pretty decent and upstanding guy.
It is not immediately obvious which trophy it is, but it turns out to be the one listed as “No Kill I”. Kind of an odd choice for a trophy, in my opinion. I mean, considering the vast epicness of this arc and the fact that the encounter with the horta was just a small bit part in one of the episodes. Personally, I would have expected a theme to do with aiding the Remans, since it’s also supposed to be a gift directly from Obisek. But that’s just me.
Thank you, STO team, for bringing us this thrilling conclusion. I await the next series with eager anticipation.