Games Gazette Logo

  

Star Trek: Alien Domain is the latest free MMO strategy online game set in the Star Trek universe. Set many years after the events of Voyager, players take on the role of a Captain of the Federation of Planets or Klingon Empire  (you can select from 6, 3 males and 3 females) trapped in the unexplored realm of fluidic space. Players will face a variety of threats -- including Species 8472 -- encounter new hostile creatures and species, and be forced to contend with a new war that has erupted between the trapped forces.  It is playable in your web browser on the GameSamba site or Facebook. Alien Domain is an online strategy game where players can create colonies, and lead their fleets to victory against enemy forces. Players can participate in multiple modes of player-vs-player combat, or in challenging single player trials such as the Elite Mode and Boss Fights. Now in open beta and with new content being added every month, there’s never been a better time to enter the world of Star Trek: Alien Domain. Click one of the links below to play for free today.  The game starts in a fluidic system with 21 fluidic sector area where the players have to unlock all 21 sectors before moving on.

Play on GameSamba – Play by creating a free GameSamba account, or by logging in with Google, Facebook, Twitter, or Yahoo

Play on Facebook –  Play directly on Facebook. Will not post to your wall, or spam your friends. 

Key Features  (For more news go to StarTrek.com )

Many of these free to play MMOs have a cost in real money that you can pay if you want to get better equipment etc but these games are usually playable for a good few hours before the option/need to pay arises. In Star Trek Alien Domain the game is only a few moments old before you discover one of your ships needs repairing and of course your Officer isn't skilled enough to augment the repairs. There are three options available for you, 30% repairs, 60% repairs or 100% repairs, each one costing a number of Credits, which of course you have none of. Never mind for just $1.00 US you can purchase 40 Credits, except of course you cannot spend just $1.00, you need to spend a minimum of $5.00. When your ship or ships are in need of repair you either have to find a crew member who has the necessary skills, find your way back to your Base planet and use the shipyard, or pay real cash to get the credits to pay for the auto repair bot to do its work. If you take the time to go back home the repairs are fast. Going into combat with damaged ships is a quick way to have a distressed fleet.

The game starts off looking good and well versed in the Star Trek Universe. I chose to play the Klingon Empire and was soon building up a Base from which my Fleet of Raptors and Birds of Prey etc would soon emerge. Buildings use resources that can be gained in the usual ways - mining, loot etc - and take only seconds to build, although they aren't always available for building or upgrading as fast as or when you may like. You get rewards, often resources (but to date no Credits) that can be immediately put to good use.

You can build and upgrade weapons for your ships and move weapons between ships (I haven't found how to do this yet but it did seem to be an option when I had a second weapon of a type already installed - it said it had to be removed from the ship before being placed on the next ship). As you upgrade your weapons so the damage they do also improves. Combat is rather poor and uninteresting, but no more or less than some high fantasy games. There is a diagonally split screen with the left side showing your fleet, and the right your opposition. Combat ensues and you have the option of clicking on a combat bar, choosing which weapon to fire and then waiting a few moments until it is ready to fire again. Damage is shown numerically in large numbers above your target and by a disappearing life bar. A small explosion marks the destruction of the enemy ship and then the stage is set for round 2 or 3 etc and another enemy arrives on the scene and the process is repeated. At the end of the fight you are shown the amount of damage you did and the emount you received. 

  

On the Galaxy screen you can see where your ship/fleet is, shown as if it were sitting on the planet, and to where it can fly (travel). Click on the destination and the ship will follow a straight line to it, where you can now click to enter the planet and see what is going on there and what you can do. If there is a defence for the planet then you will have to engage in combat. When you land at a new planet you generally get a button to click [Explore]. "Explore" means engage in combat more often than not. Just like the real Star Trek, "Go Boldly Where No ONe Has Gone Before, Find New Alien Races, and Kill Them!".

Continuing to play you are constantly being told, at least at the point I am currently at, which buildings to construct and which to upgrade, and to what level the upgrade needs to be to attain the next level. Like most of these game types you need to research what you are going to need and then begin to build it. While researching your other buildings should be creating crystals and ore so that you can build new starships and upgrade their weaponry etc. remembering to keep your energy station up to date as power is energy is power.

When you get to a certain point HQ will give you a letter that allows yo to recruit another Officer. This will be a 1st level 2-star officer if you are playing for free (or have 50 credits) or a 1st level 3-star officer if you have 1800 credits to spend. It is advisable to follow all onscreen instructions and also to build up a sizeable fleet to enable you to be more successful in later combats/explorations. Some planets have a minimal defence which you can generally defeat but they also have specialised defences, such as an enemy fleet under command of an experienced officer, floating nearby. You can decide to engage these by clicking on the icon but be aware that these guys are generally a lot tougher than you and often outnumber your fleet in ships and weaponry.

  

Having already said that I am not enamoured with the combat system let me say a little more about it. To attack you need what amount to licences for each attack. I currently have zero from a maximum of ten which means I have made 10 attacks and now cannot make any more until the counter resets, once per day. As it is 1.30am now as I write this I had hoped the counter would have reset but it hasn't so I am wondering if it resets 24 hours after you use the tenth attack license. Of course if you are paying real American $Dollars to play then you either get more licenses or quicker renewal, as I am not paying I am not exactly sure which of those statements is accurate, but they both make sense. I do have an issue with ftp games when they constantly require you to buy in-game items or credits or whatever to keep your game moving. I realise that to make such a game costs time and money and that this needs to be recouped and a profit made. So why not be upfront from the beginning and either sell the game for a flat fee and maybe charge a small amount for expansions as the game grows or give the game away to all players who subscribe a nominal amount monthly, with additional charges for expansions. All this ftp but to play properly or when it suits you etc you have to pay is a nonsense that should quickly exit from the gaming market, in my opinion.

Having played STAR TREK ALIEN DOMAIN for several hours now I can say that I wouldn't pay as much for a subscription to it as I did for World of Warcraft (£10.00 a month minus a few coppers) because there isn't the depth or difference of game here. But for £2.00-£3.00 a month, perhaps I might have taken out a sub. 

  

The one major thing missing as far as I, personally, wanted is the atmosphere of STAR TREK, it just isn't there. It has the appeal of a space adventure/action game but not of a science fiction role-playing space opera. Your choice of character avatar means nothing, or at the least very little, and your progression via kill points earned is slow and pretty much laid out in linear fashion as far as personal tactical choices go. There is very little strategy, if any, especially in the combat phase where you can actually hit Alt+Tab and go to an entirely different page on your computer, such as saving a [Print Screen] picture and then Tab back to the game to see the result of the fight - you don't even have to be involved, which means your choice of which weapon to fire (by pressing the appropriate button during combat) has little relevance on the outcome.

Overall it's not a bad space game, but it isn't one I would recommend based on its brand name or combat mechanism. It does have some grace in its building and development abilities where you do have a say in what and when you build and create or research, but even that is regimented to a point by the need to do as you are told to so that the mini mission can be completed and experience points gained. Graphics and sounds are passably acceptable. Cut scenes can be cut out or simply hurried along quite easily and buildings and upgrading buildings takes less time in this game than it does in most - you are waiting roughly a minute per build; thus a build then an upgrade would take 3 minutes (as 1 minute + 2 minutes), no 6 -8 hour waits, at least not so far. My final verdict would be: A game worth playing around with ftp (free to play) but not one to throw real money at.

 

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015