I was not sure how I was going to feel about this game. I was totally burned by Cryptic with Champions Online, which is just a pure joke of a game. I had extremely high expectations for STO, and I didn't think Cryptic could fulfill them. I actually had a closed Beta invitation, that I got from having been in the beta and pre-release from CO. However I declined to join the closed beta, because I had no faith in Cryptic, and because I started playing WoW again, and was enjoying my gaming experience there.
However yesterday, I decided to give STO a shot. I had a 50 dollars worth of rewards points from Best Buy, so I got the game for free, and I figured no risk, and I could try the game without the strain of dealing with beta and pre release.
So what were my impressions? Suprisingly good.
First off, the installation and patching were very smooth, and didn't take all that long. Compared to the joke that was the CO launch, this was a pleasant suprise.
The game was smooth, the load screens were incredibly quick, and the graphics were incredible. Then I get the Cinematics of the opening shot and there's is the voice of Leonard Nimoy himself! Awesome, I wasn't expecting that. Then we get to the starting tutorial, everything is pretty simple and laid out like a tutorial should be, unlike the CO tutorial that was one big massive mess. So then they get new Spock/Sylar to walk you through the tutorial, cool! Wasn't expecting that either.
The biggest thing that jumped out at me is this game is just plain fun. I haven't had that experience with a Cryptic game since City of Heroes. The game was incredibly fun, the graphics were breath taking, and I coudn't stop playing, and I hadn't even gotten past the tutorial yet. I played up to some of the first missions where you're travelling through Warp space in the Alpha quadrent, and I was amazed at how big the game was.
Bottom line, while the game isn't perfect, I feel for a launched product this has gone way smoother than the abomination that CO was. The game looks great, the graphics were smooth and looked incredible. No major crashes or anything, I did notice a few rendering glitches going to warp speed (liike you ship goes to warp and then you see it going to warp again), but very minor.
Now I've heard some of the criticisms, and some are indeed valid. I can see how the fight in space/fight on the ground thing can get a little tiring after a while, but for a launched game I understand this is still a work in progress as was WoW at launch (WoW had no battle grounds at launch, no honor system, PvP was waiting for a group of Horde or Alliance to group outside a major city, or in a contested territory and you fight 'till you get board.) But what I see here is an incredible platform on which to build a great MMO community. Without the base the game can go nowhere. CO had no base for an MMO, it was a complete failure from the moment that Marvel pulled out of Cryptic and they were scrambling on what to do next.
This could be the MMO that takes the place of us old Star Wars Galaxy players, have been waiting for since Sony ruined the game. Now I say that lightly because SWG had a very complex economy system, that I don't know if any other games have had since. But what I see is that STO took the fast pace play of SWG and combined it with the space flight fun of Eve Online. I leave out SWG:JTLS, because that had so many bugs and glitches at release it wasn't very fun, but it did allow space travel in SWG.
I'll conclude only by saying, I thought this game was going to stink to the 24th century, but I'm sure glad I was proven wrong. I'm not saying the game is perfect, nor will I classify this as a "WoW killer", but this IMO is the game I've been looking for to provide an alternative to all the sword and scorcery MMO's.