Posts Tagged ‘Weekly’

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The Secret World: Sub Gone, Join Usssssss

December 12, 2012

On 12/12/12 12:12 Norway time, Funcom officially did it — flipped the switch on The Secret World making it subscription-free, or in other words buy-to-play. If you were one of the lucky ones who picked up the game a few weeks ago during one of the many crazy video game sales, I’d be feeling pretty damn swell right now.

Those familiar with the game probably already know that everything had been set up for this from the get go, but leave it to TSW developers to tie the whole thing to the end of the world. As for me, it’s pretty much going to be business as usual. I’m already playing at least once a week, so I’m keeping my sub for the perks: an item which doubles XP for one hour each day, a membership gift, and — here’s the biggie — discounts and bonus points to spend each month in the Item Store.

Assuming I don’t need to be shelling out every month for a game update, can you say, new outfits, outfits, OUTFITS, OUTFITS, OUTFITS?!?! That’s right, bring it on, Syp! We all know last week’s post about fashion show competitions was directed at me.

Speaking of which, I guess now is also the perfect time for me to once again plug our guild’s weekly Monday TSW nights. Depending on who shows up and what needs to be done, on a typical session we help each other through quests, dungeons, and if we have time, watch my character Laeyn dance Gangnam style in her underwear at the Albion Theater:

[SCREENSHOT REDACTED]

Seriously though, if you haven’t had a chance to try this truly amazing and creative MMO, you now have little excuse not to. Given its genre and unique mechanics, I can’t promise the game will be everyone’s cup of tea, but Knights of Mercy will absolutely be happy to welcome any returning or new players on board. I assure you, we loooooove fresh blood!

YUMMY…MUAHAHAHAHA.

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STO: Cutting The Cord

March 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!

The yellow light goes well with my pasty green complexion!

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.

Plasma grenade incoming! Oops, that would have been a good idea...if most of those guys weren't on my own side.

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:

Follow the shiny blue line! Follow the shiny blue line!

Follow, follow, follow, follow...

Impressive.

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.

AHA! That must be Hakeev. Who else would have their arms crossed so arrogantly like that?

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.

Gorgeous.

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…

That is one sick ship. It breaks my heart to pummel it.

…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.

Okay, wow. That's put me off joy riding through any donut asteroids ever again.

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.

A proud friend of the Horta!

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.

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STO: Into The Coliseum

February 28, 2011

Out of my way, fool.

Star Trek fans, be sure to have an extra pair of underwear close at hand because the latest Star Trek Online feature episode is nothing short of nerdgasm-inducing. And fans of the Original Series, you might want to have two pairs handy.

Time to take a break from all the Rift posts with my review of “Coliseum.” And what can I say? Wow. Just, wow. I have a lot to talk about, but the hard part is figuring out how to do it without coming across like a raving fangirl. Fact is, it is not in my nature to squee and fawn unless something is very, very good and extremely well done — which I think applies to this particular FE. I’m going to echo what Tipa has already stated in her write-up — this episode is truly epic.

Note: Spoilers in the text and screenshots.

Surprise, surprise — this latest mission does not start at Admiral T’Nae. Instead, it is Obisek’s scarred visage that pops up on your screen, asking for help, no less. The nerve! Seems one of his ships carrying a load of thalaron weapons through the Nopada system has disappeared. His only bargaining chip was simply, “If you didn’t like the idea of thalaron weapons in the hands of a loonybin like me, you would like them much less in the hands of an even bigger loonybin like Hakeev now, wouldn’t you?”

ARRGH!!! This is why you don’t let crazy ass Remans run free to do as they please! I should have attempted to arrest him when I had the chance, especially since the decision to do so or not to do so turned out to make no effing difference in the end.

Skip ahead to the Nopada system because I’m a tool and I’ve agreed to help Obisek find his missing ship. There, I find nothing but derelict hulks and a mysterious satellite. And whaddya know, it’s a trap! At this point, I was going through the motions, thinking this was just gonna be another one of those missions where I’ll have to run around activating glowy consoles and pressing buttons until I find a way to escape.

Well, I discovered it was that and more. Math? MATH, CRYPTIC?! Why do you hate me? But thanks to my overbearing mother and her forcing me to go through five years of Kumon in my youth, however, I was set, calculators and pencils be damned. After you work out which number corresponds to each letter, all it takes is to go through A, B, C, and D sliding the numbers left or right until they show the correct value.

After that, make sure you explore every nook and cranny of the small facility. You’ll need to somehow set the satellite to expand its scanners far enough to pick up the derelict hulk, using it to redirect focus away from your ship, and then you’ll need to dial down the power settings to allow yourself to get away. The information takes a bit of digesting, but the key is to know where all your consoles are to do your fiddling, so be sure to note them on your map.

So by now I admit I was feeling a little indifferent, expecting myself to beam back to my ship and be ambushed with a space fight or something. I thought, “Typical.”

Instead, BAM! I found myself behind bars in the next scene. I did not see that one coming. Not sure if it was intended, but way to go Cryptic for luring me into a false sense of impassivity. This was probably the biggest twist I have ever experienced in an FE, and I love it!

And what made it even better, was when the doors opened, and I realized…I get to fight? Oh my God, I get to fight! No pressing any buttons, no scanning any objects, no running around trying to be diplomatic. I. GET. TO. KILL. STUFF. Now THIS is T’Androma’s kind of mission! Just your good old-fashioned, straightforward gladiatorial skirmish with fantastical creatures in an open coliseum.

Ladies and gentlemen, choose your weapons. Take ’em all if you want, but it’s the Lirpa for me. As if I would choose anything else.

As a proud owner of a little Sehlat cub of my own, I really should be feeling bad about this. But that's the way of the arena! Sorry Fluffy!

And all the while, I’m going dun-dun-DAH-DAH-DAH-DAH-DAH-DUN-dun-dun-DUN-DUN! in time to the music. Because everyone knows, of course, that the Amok Time song is the greatest fight music EVER. I laughed, because it seems that after almost a year, my wishes were finally answered. That was before I got into Star Trek. Sigh, how utterly ignorant and sad I was then.

Are you enjoying yourself? When do you think we'll get to go again?

The fun was over way too soon. Before long, T’Andy was herded back into her cage, where she had the opportunity to talk to the Reman slave who fought beside her the coliseum. “I tire of this life,” he moaned. “I can’t go on much longer.” “The lights are too damn bright.” Whine whine whine, bitch bitch bitch. It took every ounce of self control not to bite this guy’s head off and call him names, insult his manhood or imply he’s a psychopath. Seriously, Slamek, the joys of the arena are wasted on you and blubbering wussies like you.

But no, T’Andy had to  be diplomatic to get through this. Guess you can’t always have it all.

With much reluctance, T’Andy finally agreed to escape with him. At this point, I thought Cryptic would throw in a few objectives related to subterfuge or evasion. Surely, after all that fighting, they’ll make us sneak around some.

I could not have been more wrong, and boy am I glad for that:

Deworming.

Beating the Aehallh Worm in the coliseum shouldn’t be too difficult. If you find you are getting low on health, there are regenerative spores around the place you can “activate” to heal yourself. Run around to avoid the corrosive spit, beat down the tentacles, activate the turret system, simple as that. Letting you free the other prisoners to help you fight was also a welcome touch; I thought it added nicely to the frantic atmosphere.

By now, it feels like I’ve been playing this mission for a long time, and certainly it has already been twice as long as some of the previous FEs in the past. But it ain’t over yet! T’Andy and Slamek may have escaped their prison, but they still have to escape the desert. I was surprised there was still more to the story, but this is the most fun I’ve ever had in any STO mission, period, so I wasn’t complaining in the least.

Of course, it wasn’t enough just to be whiny and annoying, Slamek had to be an incompetent burden too. Wounded by the worm in the arena and poisoned by its venom, my Reman companion wasn’t going to make it unless he received immediate medical attention. If it were up to T’Andy, she would have let him die, but Starfleet has a pesky tendency to find out about these things, and if her churlish ways ever got back to the Admiral she would have my Vulcan ass on a silver platter.

Scorpions overhead!

The landscape, however, was absolutely breathtaking. As I gathered up the herbs for Slamek’s injuries while dodging the ranging Scorpions overhead, I couldn’t help but admire the desert scenery in the beautiful light of the silver moon. I don’t think I’ve seen anything else like this in STO. The environment was simply gorgeous. And huge. Thank God in one of the game’s previous updates they gave us a longer duration sprint.

Okay, now I have to spend the night with Slamek? Are you seriously saddling me with this pathetic creature, Cryptic? It’s like being haunted by a ghoul. Will the torture never end?!

Curse you, Slamek! Your fugly presence is totally ruining my glamour shoot!

Sigh. Just don’t get fresh with me, okay, Slamek? Or I swear, my boyfriend will come and nerve pinch you.

Here, T’Andy’s tactical training background required her to collect wood for a fire. Play with other classes in the group to collect all the accolades! Afterward, I thought surely the night in the cave must mean this episode was coming to an end…but there was still one more scene. Somewhere deep down I was starting to think this was getting a little ridiculous, but then I saw the marvelous view of the crashed Reman ship and promptly told that part of me to shut up. Again, the graphics and the design of the tableau was of a caliber I have not seen before in STO.

She's seen better days...

Just a few more objectives requiring me to send my signal to my ship, and T’Andy was almost home free. But then BAM! cutscene again. I was laughing out loud by the end, because I was having all these nasty thoughts about Slamek the whole time…and in the end it turned out I was right not to trust him. Traitorous bastard. Now that one I actually did see coming.

Why he went through all that just to sell me out though, I still have no idea. But the look on Hakeev’s face when I made my last minute getaway was funny enough to make me set aside all my questions. Silly villains. Y’all need to take a page from T’Andy’s book — shoot first, talk later.

Dammit. I knew I should have let the worms eat you out there, Slamek.

Days after playing this episode, I am still geeking out over it. My only concern about it is the fact it makes the rest of the game look less good, if that makes any sense. No wonder they are planning on going back to revamp past missions; I feel the chasm of difference between the old content and the new would be too great otherwise. Not only do I feel “Coliseum” is the best episode so far in the arc, I’d probably go as far as to say this was the best FE released to date. Hell, best mission the the game, even. Bar none.

This is now my favorite episode, and I have to say playing it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had in STO. And it’s not just because I got to wreak all kinds of destruction in my wake. This episode must have been a massive undertaking — to write, to direct, to produce. It had everything, from the engaging script to the cinematic cutscenes with dramatic camera angles (especially with Hakeev at the end). Beautiful environments and music appropriate to the atmosphere. Extraordinary creatures, big and small. Lots of things that have never been seen before. There was also humor, suspense, excitement. Combat, problem solving, diplomacy. The whole mission was like a buffet table generously laid out by Cryptic, encouraging you to sample the best bits of everything.

Finally, in “Colisium”, I also see a labor of love, a devotion to Star Trek and a clear commitment to its fans to bring us the Trek elements we know and love. I’ve glimpsed this in other parts of STO, but here in this particular episode, it really shines.

Seriously, whoever came up with the idea for this mission deserves a raise. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for us next Saturday. It’s the series finale!

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STO: Burned, Blasted, Frozen

February 21, 2011

Happy Monday, folks, which means I bring you all another review of the latest Star Trek Online feature episode!

Note: Spoilers in the text and screenshots.

Episode 3 of the current Romulan arc “Frozen” takes the crew of the Taiga to a hidden Reman rebel base, which we discovered thanks to our efforts last week in decoding the secret message.

I am always wary whenever I get a mission warning me not to “antagonize” anyone, in this case the Remans or the Romulans. Pissing people off is what T’Androma does best, but okay, for the sake of galactic peace, I shall try my darndest.

The first map we enter upon reaching the Dera system is a short space encounter involving some subterfuge. First we set ourselves up as bait by advertising our signal, then we go scurrying back to hide in a nebula. Word of advice, if you’re like me and enjoy flying around to explore a bit, just remember where you parked your cloud of gas. Yes, I lost my nebula. Not too often you get to say something like that. It’s only a small little area of gas and radiation you can hide in, and silly me, when I flew around I dipped too low and took me a while to locate it again even within the marked area.

Here, I recalled the first episode “The Vault” and the encounter near the end where we had to fight a space battle in an area which disrupted our shields and signals, and a static-y effect would literally “snow” across your screen. In “Frozen”, the nebula we hide in pretty much does the same thing graphically. It’s a rather cool effect, though I have to admit it’s a little freaky at first, knee-jerk reaction to anything that messes with my screen and all.

Our patient stake-out in the nebula is rewarded with a very dramatic cutscene. Most of the ones I’ve seen so far involve NPCs in conversation, so it was a refreshing to see a space encounter fold out this time, with one my bridge officers narrating. When a huge Romulan warship decloaked, I was like, oooooh. But then they started attacking the Reman scout, so I knew I had to do something about that. They had to be destroyed at once! At once, I say!

Hey, don’t look at me, my tactical officer told me to do it.

Our fight allowed the Reman scout to get away, and after I took care of the Romulans, we tracked them to a frozen planet. I normally groan at escort quests, but when you’re both flying in ships, it’s a little different. It’s actually kinda fun.

We beamed down to a cavern system which would lead us into the Reman’s secret base. Here, I boggled at the frozen tableau.

More and more, I look forward to the ground portion of each FE. Ground combat mechanics are what they are, but even if you don’t like them, at least you can still be blown away by the environment. It’s like a surprise every time.

And the creatures are a surprise too. I think I remember reading somewhere that this arc would feature more new creatures than ever before. Here I fight some ugly jackal mastiff thingies…among other things.

“Why does every new species we encounter try to kill us?” Um, Lieutenant Jaime, dear, you’re talking about spiders here.

How you get into the actual base itself depends on your class. As far as I can tell though, they all involve a giant, mining laser. As a tactical officer, I had to go around collecting power packs, fusing them together in order to give the malfunctioning laser that extra oomph to blast apart the gate keeping us out. I got a tactical accolade for it in the end, and if you have other classes with you, you have the opportunity to win those accolades too. Needless to say, that may provide a very good incentive for people to group up.

Inside, we meet the Reman rebels, who seem to have been expecting us. Seriously, we really could have just knocked.

Way to pull at my heartstrings, Cryptic. They’re really ramping up the emotional factor with this arc. I remember feeling bad for the down-trodden Romulans in the first two episodes, and now I can’t help but feel bad for the Remans as well. Especially that story with that one guy’s innocent wife who died alone and screaming in a Tal Shiar prison? Ouch.

I swore I’d break Obisek’s neck the next time I saw him, but after listening to the sad plight of his people, how could I? Being a rebel at heart herself, T’Androma could do no less but to sympathize. I let him go, and his people helped me fight my way out against the Romulans who invade the base.

Ahh, choice. We’re beginning to see Cryptic give us more and more of those, with each passing FE arc and episode. There will be consequences to whatever you choose, but the scope remains to be seen. Check out Tipa’s write-up of the mission if you want a good rundown of what you can expect from each choice you make in “Frozen”, and even how to get yourself another accolade if you’re into that kind of thing. The episode itself won’t end too differently either you choose to arrest Obisek or let him go; he still escapes and you end up reporting to Admiral T’Nae about the Remans regardless. I hear, however, that it is possible our decisions may lead to more lasting effects in future episodes.

Overall, this was a short and straightforward mission. I found out it took me 1 hour and 8 minutes to complete it (courtesy of Raptr) but I’m sure if I wasn’t using up all that time dithering around taking screenshots and exploring, it would probably have taken me a quarter of that time or less. I am enjoying these episodes that are putting a heavier focus on the context and leading me to become more emotionally invested in the story.

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STO: Valentine, Valentine, Wilt Thou Be Mine (Enemy)?

February 14, 2011

Sorry about the title, but I never said I was a poet.

“Mine Enemy”, the second featured episode of the new Star Trek Online series arc debuted Saturday, and once again prior engagements kept me elsewhere and unable to log on at the time of launch. Again, I thought it was for the best as Cryptic still appeared less than prepared to handle the increased server loads at such a peak time. However, things didn’t go too smoothly for me either when I was finally able to play that night. I didn’t encounter any high-population-related problems, but I did hit a pretty annoying bug instead. More on that later.

Note: Spoilers in text and screenshots

This week, T’Androma and First Officer Sleer investigate a Ferengi-run mining colony in the Hfihar System. The rest of the away team stay behind as not to spook the miners and inhabitants, mostly made up of Romulan refugees, as they are not used to seeing too many outsiders to their area. For more on the plot and story of the mission, check out Tipa’s great write-up.

Traffic congestion in sector space.

Like last week’s episode, “Mine Enemy” starts at Admiral T’Nae located at Starbase 39. I made the trip to see her in person so I could grab a few screenshots of the crowd. It’s a shame Cryptic can’t manage the server loads more smoothly, but I do love it to see so many people in STO. It was late Saturday night, but T’Nae was no less surrounded by dozens of players jostling around and even on top of her desk trying to initiate the mission. I find that I really like the voiceover for her character. The actress manages to convey strict control over emotion, and yet there’s just that tiny little hint of condescension you would expect from a Vulcan.

Upon entering the Hfihar System, you’ll encounter a very short space sequence before getting the option to beam down to the surface of the mining colony with one other member of your away team. Commander Sleer was chosen for the assignment. As T’Andy’s first officer, the loyal science officer is her friend, her rock, and most importantly, her healer. Bringing someone who can provide your captain more firepower would work too, but as a tactical officer who likes to go in guns blazing, I personally like someone who can keep my shields up.

Once again, the STO team at Cryptic proves that when they set their mind to it, they can do wonderful, powerful things with environment and atmosphere. Because boy, what a craphole this place is, and I mean that in a good way. You can practically feel the despair rolling off the NPCs huddling in the dust and shadows of the slums. The gravity of the situation hits you even harder when you consider the main Star Trek timeline and the significance of everything around you — all these Romulans are sad and homeless now, scattered to the wind after their planet went kablooie in the supernova. You gotta feel bad for them.

Before you enter the mine, you’re asked to help out some of the Romulan refugees in the area. You get to complete different tasks depending on your character’s class. As a tactical officer, I got to take out a bunch of thugs that has been threatening this poor guy just trying to feed his own family as well as his dead friend’s, which suited me just fine. The point is though, I notice Cryptic is sticking to this trend of providing class specific objectives, which I approve because I think lore-wise it makes each role feel more unique in function, on top of simply just having different abilities.

Why you don't mess with T'Andy.

Okay, here at the entrance of the mine, I encountered the really annoying bug. I first tried using diplomacy to talk the Romulan jerk on guard into letting me through, but ended up having to put him down anyway. Subsequently, I was given the objective to take out 4 more groups of hostile Romulans, except I only got 3 groups, and thus got stuck when I couldn’t initiate the next part of the mission. Apparently, this wasn’t an uncommon occurrence; I saw several people talking about in sector space chat, and a couple of my own fleetmates experienced this whacky glitch. You only have two choices if it happens to you, unfortunately.  One, you can drop the mission and start it over, or two, you can beam out and wait 15 minutes for the mine to reset. I did the latter, but while I waited I also redid “The Vault” with Blue Kae and Talyn, so it wasn’t a total loss.

To avoid the glitch, I was advised to just go in and just shoot the guard. Don’t try to negotiate with him, don’t even talk to him, just kill him. Shoot him dead. Well, I can do that. And voila, it worked! Keep going further into the mine and you should get the message to kill 5 groups of hostile Romulans, which is the way it should be. You miss out on the choice to use diplomacy, but I did this mission twice and both times I followed this advice, and the bug didn’t show itself again, which is what matters. The puzzle (well, if you can even call it a puzzle) initiated to open the hidden cave door, I stood on one of the pressure plates, stuck my bridge officer on the other, and whew, I was finally through this pesky area.

And what’s this? Cutscene! I think this is another trend we’ll be seeing more of from these featured episodes. And with Cryptic having plans to revamp many more of their missions like they did with the Azura encounter, at some point we may even be seeing these all over the game.

Be sure to explore everything before you head past the code-protected door. In one of the caverns to the side, you’ll get even a nice surprise and an accolade out of it…

Cue "not a bricklayer" line!

It’s moments like these that I’m glad I took the time to watch all the Star Trek shows, even the Original Series. The episode with the Horta is one of my favorites. It’s so much more fun when you get the references, and I gotta say kudos to Cryptic for putting in gems like these for the fans.

I’m also astounded by all the choices you’re given in this FE. In the brig, you get the optional mission of releasing the prisoners, for example. I did, and I was pleasantly surprised to see them help me fight! Of course, five minutes later I managed to get them all vaporized. So it goes. I also had the choice of not killing the Romulan commander for the access codes, but duh, I did anyway. What, it’s not like my diplomacy rank would have been high enough in the first place! I don’t know, I didn’t check.

Anyway, choice means a lot more fun for completionist types like me, and even though it is possible to sneak through the facility without having to kill a single worker, I mowed the whole place down so I could sneak a peek at all the information on the consoles they were working on. What can I say? Destruction follows T’Andy around like a pet goat, but there’s usually a rhyme and reason to it.

Speaking of destruction, I love how the whole place almost comes down during your harrowing escape from the mines. There’s that whole thing with environment and atmosphere again. Good job, Cryptic!

Escape action-hero style.

You return to your ready room afterward, to decode the files you downloaded from deep in the mine before you managed to get out of there. Some of the files include errors that you have to correct in order to receive pass codes that will help you decipher the main encrypted document. What followed was a lot of reading and in some cases guesswork, but I found clicking through trial and error will also ultimately get you to your goal in decoding the message. Oh, you Remans. I look forward to breaking your necks.

On a more cheerful note, I love this week’s reward. How could I NOT choose the Horta hatchling pet?

Uh, T'Andy, I don't think he likes the fire extinguisher.

Overall, great episode. Just a shame about the bug; if it wasn’t for that, everything would have been perfect, 10 out of 10. Still, “Mine Enemy” probably ranks up there as one of my favorite featured episodes so far.

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STO: Cracking The Vault

February 7, 2011

Alas, I was out running errands on Saturday when “The Vault”, the first Featured Episode of Star Trek Online Series 3 launched. I’d been looking forward to this for months and was a little disappointed not to be able to jump in right away, but as it turned out, that might have been for the best. Comments from Twitter and the forums were coming in about plenty of problems in the game like rubberbanding and killer lag, until finally the whole server just gave up and died.

It appears I’m not the only one who loves these FEs. The STO team were apparently not prepared for the unprecedented numbers of players hammering the server on Saturday. When I finally got home to play the episode, I could not believe it when I encountered a login queue, the first one I’ve seen since launch! But I suppose if you’re in the business of running an MMO, this is what you would call a happy problem; I just hope those returning to STO or checking it out for the first time won’t be too pissed off by the experience, as these problems are definitely not the norm.

Now on to the FE…

Note: Mild spoilers in the text and screenshots.

T’Androma and her crew are tasked to investigate “The Vault”, a giant Romulan space station rumored to have carried out research on Borg Technology. In connection to the overarching Star Trek story, this facility allegedly outfitted Nero’s technologically-advanced ship Narada before it and Spock were sucked into the black hole that sent them back in time into an alternate reality. We are to enter the space station covertly, our superiors advised, utilizing a small craft like a shuttle or a runabout. For more information on the mission, Tipa has done a very nice and detailed write-up.

The first thing I noticed when I picked up the mission, is that they have added some voice work! I hope there will be more in the future!

One thing neat about this FE, is that I got to obtain and pilot my first shuttle. I never bothered to get one until it was needed for this mission, and here you can see a fleet of them swarming around the space station. Hey all, I thought we were supposed to be sneaky!

Like fleas on a dog.

What I loved about this Featured Episode is the way Cryptic has managed to turn a mission with few relatively mundane objectives into an undertaking of a grand scale. And all they really did was make the Vault unbelievably crazy huge and you unbelievably crazy tiny.

After all, all you really do is fly around, scan a few things, blast away a couple security systems…but things invariably feel a little more overwhelming when you’re in a dinky little shuttle.

The situation escalates as the crew attempts a daring escape from the space station, only to encounter the Bird-of-Prey guarding the door between you and your freedom. The fight that ensues is your classic David and Goliath tale.

Next time, why don't you pick on someone your own size!

Boy, you wouldn’t believe how happy I was to get my Maelstrom back.

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STO: Night Of The Comet

November 15, 2010

Note: Major spoilers!

Even the screenies!

Avert your eyes!

I hope that’s adequate warning for this week’s coverage of the latest Star Trek Online feature episode, “Night of the Comet,” because I want to talk about some of the challenges it presented. In my opinion, this finale to the Devidian arc was probably the toughest of all the weeklies we’ve had so far.

Looking back, having my husband with me on this week’s mission helped a lot, but I’ll get to that later.

The episode began with a hail from Section 31 agent Franklin Drake, who revealed his plans to send us back to the past in order to destroy the pesky comet that’s been the cause of all this trouble with the Devidians. To travel back in time in our ships, we first had to disguise ourselves as Klingon cruisers using holo-emitters. Then we had to make our way to a secret system to utilize the series of gates there that would essentially catapult us back to the 23rd century.

I didn’t realize this at first, but based on what I saw in general chat, a lot of people had trouble with this first part of the mission. Getting through the rings can be a bit tricky, but it’s completely doable if you steer using a combination of the keyboard with the mouse, or just using the two mouse buttons by itself. I’m more of a mouse-maneuvering captain myself, so the rings posed little problem. Also, there is no need to follow the highlighted trajectory; I found that passing through the gates at any angle from the front side will suffice. Lag would probably be the biggest enemy here. The good news, however, is that when I passed through all the rings on my run, my husband got the prompt to travel to the next map as well. So if all else fails, my last advice is to grab a friend.

Now we engage in a little ground combat with the Devidians at Drozana station, 150 years in the past. There is a wicked Phantasm to deal with here, but we brought strong healers and killed his buddies first, so he fell to our ghostbusting guns like all the rest before him. Hey, we even got to break up a bar fight.

Afterward, another legend graces us with his presence!!! Pleased to meet you, Lieutenant Commander Montgomery Scott.

Here, we encountered another challenge. Well, more of an annoyance, really. To help Scotty with repairs to the station, we first had to get a part from Cassidy — his useless blubbering colleague who has literally been frightened out of her wits. Luckily, Scotty figured a nerve tonic should bring her out of it.

Kill me now. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone so picky with their alcohol. I was so glad to have someone else with me on this part of the mission; we had my husband put together the drink at the bartender while I stood with Scotty and called out the preferences. Much easier with two people. Otherwise, be prepared to memorize details or take a lot of notes on how the little damsel likes her drinks.

And then we were on our way to destroy the comet. I didn’t think the episode would end so mundanely though, and sure enough, we had the Klingons to deal with once we beamed back into space. Silly Franklin Drake, he could have chosen a disguise that didn’t make everyone in the 23rd century hate us.

Not going to deny it — this final battle was hell for me. Between zapping the comet and having to fight the waves of Klingon ships coming to intercept us, I found it nigh impossible to stay alive. For some reason, those D7 Battle Cruisers seemed to find me no matter where I went, ignoring my husband completely even though in many cases he was closer. My little escort isn’t built to handle the kind of abuse that comes with being focus-fired on by multiple enemies, and I must have blown up after every single pass of the comet.

In the ugly mess that ensued, I accidentally destroyed the named Klingon enemy ship that we were supposed to keep alive, thus failing my orders to preserve the timeline. I thought I botched the mission then, since my tactical officer even told me that we had to go back to the beginning to attempt it again. I was all prepared to start over when…nothing happened. I was hailed by Franklin Drake when the last piece of comet was destroyed, but instead of a good tongue-lashing, all he gave me was a congratulations for a job well done, plus my mission rewards. I’m not sure that was how things were supposed to pan out, but I was thankful not to have to do the mission over again.

Despite the glitches, I thought “Night of the Comet” was a decent episode and a good ending to the Devidian arc. Story-wise, it was a winner, and I felt it gave players a bit of everything to do. Believe it or not, as pathetic as my performance was, I have to say that last battle was probably one of my favorite STO space combat encounters of all time.