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Star Trek Online soars, but then grinds

In Star Trek Online, a Federation spaceship narrowly

In Star Trek Online, a Federation spaceship narrowly escapes phaser fire during a battle. Photo Credit: AP Photo/HO

Star Trek Online thrives when multiple ships crisscross through space while exchanging phaser fire and photon torpedoes. The battles look spectacular, and piloting a starship around a planet while dodging enemy fire is both challenging and enjoyable.

But the frenzied pace hits the brakes when combat moves to the ground. Away missions were a key part of both the original TV series and "Star Trek: The Next Generation," but you'll find yourself calling for Scotty to beam you up shortly after landing. The first away mission, which acts as a tutorial, has your character beaming over to a damaged Star Fleet vessel to make some repairs and kill a few Borg. It does little to draw you in.

But when your character is given command of a Miranda-class Federation starship (think USS Reliant from "Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan"), things start to look up. You're sent out to explore galaxies with such orders as beaming a ship's survivors to your own vessel or destroying targets.

Star Trek Online may face its biggest challenge with its price tag. You buy the game, and then you have to pay $15 a month in fees to keep playing.

That's a tall order for the game as it stands now, but online games can improve over time.

 Star Trek Online

RATING T for Teen

PLOT Take command of a Star Fleet vessel and crew

DETAILS $50, with $15-a-month subscription fee, for the PC

BOTTOM LINE Falls short in several areas

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