Space combat is actually pretty similar to the SFC games (I've only played 3, but I can't imagine 1 and 2 being much different).
1 and 2 were totally different from 3. SFB was about the most difficult boardgame ever made with a filling cabinet needed to house all the rules and pieces. A game between 2 ships making 2-3 passes could take an hour. Of course this is before PC's were able to run complex games. I liked it, but was very happy when the game was translated into a PC game, dropping the same fight to about 3-5 minutes. Basically, it was careful power/speed management and timing that would determine the victor. I guess my question is more... Is STO more of a space combat game, or an EQ style game where you have ships instead of trolls with clubs? The last 'space' MMO I played was Eve which I liked very much, but unless you're in a huge Zerg alliance you end up getting pounded by 20 to 1 odds. Conan was ok, but I got bored with it as my server became too depopulated to get any big actions going.