Archive for May 31st, 2011


Cryptic Acquired By Perfect World

May 31, 2011

Merely a couple weeks ago, I wrote a post about what I thought of Atari’s decision to sell Cryptic, and held out hope that the developer would eventually find a good place to call home. Turns out we didn’t have to wait for long; today the news came out that Perfect World has acquired Cryptic.

Thought I’d throw in my two cents again, seeing as how a great many responses have already surfaced, ranging from those who are sure this deal will spell nothing but doom, to those who are positively ecstatic — one more opinion couldn’t possibly hurt. First of all, I’ll admit that I’m only mildly familiar with Perfect World as a company. I’ve never played any of their games, and much of what I’ve heard about their business practices comes from second hand knowledge — such as their “Asian grinder” stereotype and inclination towards free-to-play and cash shops…but to be fair, also the fact they purchased Runic Games last year and for the most part have left it alone.

To be honest, none of that really means squat to me, because my gut already says Perfect World will likely take a similar “hands-off” approach when it comes to Cryptic. That is, if this purchase was indeed a “strategic acquisition” and their opportunity to “further penetrate into the U.S. and global online game markets”…well, if that’s true, then it just wouldn’t make much sense for them to turn right around and screw with Cryptic’s games. I think to do so would be highly illogical, to quote our favorite pointy-eared friend.

Speaking of which, my interest in all this is, of course, because of Star Trek Online. Ever since Champions Online went free-to-play, there has been speculation on whether or not it’s Cryptic’s “F2P experiment”, and that maybe STO will soon follow. Given how long it’s been on players’ radar screens, if the game does go down that route, I can’t say it’ll be a shocker. My guess, however, is that the decision will come more from within Cryptic, though I wouldn’t be surprised if it ultimately gets attributed to the new ownership. How that situation might be handled, though, is also up for speculation. Regardless, it’s way too early to say whether or not this will affect my sub. Way, way too early to say this acquisition is “definitely good” or “definitely bad”, really.

At least now Cryptic has a home and a more stable source of funds and resources at their disposal to continue work on their games. I predict things should be business-as-usual for the foreseeable future. Sure, I could be wrong, but like Blue Kae I’m willing to sit back to wait and see before I tear out my hair and run screaming down the street panicking.

Yep, cautiously optimistic. That’s me, too.


Star Trek Online: Remastered “Diplomatic Orders” And “Doomsday Device”

May 31, 2011

Star Trek Online keeps giving me reasons to hop back into the captain’s chair. This long weekend saw the release of two remastered episodes and I thought I’d take some time to share some thoughts and screenshots — because some of the new changes the devs have made to “Diplomatic Orders” and “Doomsday Device” are seriously neat.

Diplomatic Orders

Not surprised at all that this was one of the episodes that got remastered, since in my opinion it was always one of the best missions in the game. In fact, “Diplomatic Orders” was also the first episode I did again when the rerun feature got put into the game, way back when. The story has since been updated, with new cutscenes and voice overs.

Just a couple of highlights — I absolutely adore the new Vulcan. The environmental tweaks to it are especially impressive — lines making up the landscape are much smoother, easier on the eyes, and looks more natural. No more awkward structures and strange dips in the sand. As to why I feel this is noteworthy, the fact that I got my stupid ass stuck behind a monolith the first time I ever set foot on the old Vulcan might have something to do with it. This new Vulcan, on the other hand, is beautiful and dummy-proof!

My other favorite part about this mission is the new reward — Data Recorder which allows you to replay Leonard Nimoy’s lovely Spock voice over again and again as much as I could ever want. I’m also quite keen on the likeness, which by the way, Cryptic, any chance we can ever get a Spock holo? T’Androma would love something like that to put on her bridge so she can…um, okay, never mind.

Final verdict: Excellent.

Doomsday Device

Not that I didn’t appreciate the alterations to the story, the conclusion, and all the good stuff like the new cutscenes, but…simply put, I felt out of my element for this remastered version of “Doomsday Device”.

Firstly, T’Andy gets beamed over to the Klingon ship alone. I had some NPC back up, but I was never able to shake the nagging feeling that my bridge officers should really be the ones doing this with their captain, or at least the part where we clear the ship. Secondly, much of the space combat in this episode now happens in a Klingon ship. It felt different, but wouldn’t have been so bad if it didn’t also feel so grossly under-equipped after being so used to flying and fighting in my own Maelstrom.

Speaking of which, T’Andy’s Klingon disguise is hideous, her unfortunate features only offset in the image above by the awesome sauce that is the majestic Bird of Prey docked in the background.

The new cutscenes and voice overs were great as usual — I honestly never expected to be serenaded to by a Klingon! Albeit it was a war song, probably about breaking my spine, or some such. A rousing tune, nonetheless, and what is arguably one of the most epic cutscenes in any game.

The new story elements, however, have its costs. Maybe it’s just me, but I seem to remember the old version of this mission being a little more action-packed, with a lot less chatter and running back and forth. The mechanics for the final fight has also been changed, which confused me at first — I kept wondering where to go to pick up my special torpedoes as that was what I remembered most about from the original! As it is now, the Hargh’peng torpedoes are already loaded which made life a lot easier, but the doomsday device is just as deadly.

Good thing I’m not above getting myself blown up for a couple of nice screenies!

A lot more where that came from, as the remastered environments are probably what I appreciated most about this episode.

Final verdict: Didn’t like the remastered “Doomsday Device” as much as I thought I would but it’s still a lot of fun, and in my opinion much improved from the original.

In fact, I would recommend my fellow STO captains give all the remastered episodes a try if you haven’t already; it’s worth it, and if anything the new rewards are nice. Even “Stranded in Space” has a new Azura Personal Comm Code reward that will allow you to access your bank, mail or a store from anywhere in the galaxy! It’s very handy.