Coliseum

So, going by the logic I mentioned previously, about balancing short and long missions, you might expect Coliseum to be a bit longer.  But you’d be wrong.

Coliseum is a lot longer.  Its potentially the longest of the featured episodes to date, and enjoys an attention to detail that means its going to stick in players minds, with many varied sections to the mission from mathematics puzzles, to combat, to stealth.  There’s something for everyone this week, and while the mission isn’t without a couple of problems, there’s a heck of a lot to love.

Firstly, I’m going to touch on the big update this mission brought in.  Mele combat.

Now to be fair, mele combat has existed in the game since launch.  Klingons have had bat’leths for a long time, and Federation players could either unequip all their weapons to use martial arts, or ask a friendly Klingon for a bat’leth.   However it always seemed to pale in comparison to the array of pistols and rifles available, and there wasn’t really any incentive to try out mele combat, unless you were a Klingon, who have an excellent mission that sees you take part in a bat’leth tournament.  For me, this mission is the equivalent of that mission for Federation characters (or I guess provides the same role at a lower level for Klingons).  You’re finally handed a mele weapon and encouraged to try it out as, through a nice game mechanic, all your other devices and weapons get deactivated when you are captured and sent to the Coliseum, leaving you reliant on mele combat.  This mission also sees the developers bump up the available mele weapons in the game by including various swords and the Vulcan Lirpa seen in Amok Time, so I love having a variety of weapons available, and I’ve found mele combat a lot of fun, despite being something I barely touched before.   Of course, this is all aided by the developers sneaking in that classic Trek fight music for the main Coliseum battles.  Its hard not to play that part of the mission without a big grin on your face.

Variety is the name of the game in this mission.  Whether its beaming across to a satellite and solving various puzzles to rescue your ship, mele fighting in the Coliseum, or escaping across the Desert, there’s a really epic feel to the mission, again aided a lot by the new cutscenes, with the one that closes out the mission probably being the best yet, and really capturing that great “last minute beam-out” that’s long been a stalwart of Star Trek.

The other thing I really enjoyed, was the fight against the giant Aehallh worm.  For the first time in the game it felt like a real boss fight.  Which is not to say there haven’t been boss fight’s previously in the game.  There are many, but they all entail an enemy who has his stats/abilities ramped up, and you keep attacking them until they die from it.  This boss required a certain strategy and sequence of events to beat, first taking care of the smaller worms, before activating the Coliseum defenses to weaken it.  I love this kind of encounter against a single enemy as it makes the fight a bit more interesting and adds variety to the boss encounters.

The only part of the mission that went a bit wrong for me was the escape through the desert.  Now, I love the idea behind it, and its mostly well executed, with you hiding from low-flying scorpion fighters, and then making your way through the desert, finding food and shelter (which alters slightly depending on your class).  The only problem was that an issue with the map markers meant I missed the first checkpoint, and then none of the rest of the mission triggered properly.   Eventually after wandering through the desert for half an hour, I gave up, bailed out of the mission and tried it again later, this time paying close attention.   Hopefully the devs will address this issue and make the waypoints more obvious (it was a common problem that sparked a fair amount of debate on the forums and podcasts, so I suspect they’ll be looking at it).   Map issue aside though, the entire concept of the escape is slick and well executed, culminating in the cutscene I mentioned earlier.

Overall, this was probably the longest Featured Episode yet in the game, and delivers possibly the most complete and satisfying experience yet.  If you take your time, doing everything properly, this would probably fill out an entire 45 minute Star Trek episode on its own.  Next up is the finale, and with Hakeev admitting he’s working for the Iconians, it builds nicely towards Starfleet now being freed of the Prime Directive restrictions and can take action against Hakeev.

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