'Star Trek' multiplayer game: Which version would be best?

Kirk or Picard? You'll probably get neither, but we score which of version of the science-fiction franchise would be best in a MMORPG?

Jim Kerstetter Staff writer, CNET News
Jim Kerstetter has been writing about the high-tech industry since the 1990s. He has been a senior editor at PC Week and a Silicon Valley correspondent at BusinessWeek. He is now senior executive editor at CNET News. He moved back to Boston because he missed the Red Sox. E-mail Jim.
Jim Kerstetter
4 min read
Star Trek Online
CBS Studios

Star Trek is coming to the world of massively multiplayer online role-playing games. By most accounts for fans of the science fiction series and gaming, this is exciting news.

But the real question for Trekkies is sure to be: which Star Trek?

First the news: At a Star Trek convention in Las Vegas over the weekend, Cryptic Studios revealed the first details and a trailer for Star Trek Online, an MMORPG based on the franchise. Leonard Nimoy was even onstage to unveil the game (a company spokeswoman said they're not saying what the price or release date will be quite yet).

I asked the spokeswoman which Star Trek the game will be based on and she said cryptically that Cryptic is "definitely looking at the movies and TV shows as canon but also looking to comics and novels for additional ideas." Unfortunately, I didn't see the trailer, but the screen shots Cryptic sent me look an awful lot like a Star Trek: The Next Generation fight with one of those smaller, circular Borg ships. I assume the new game will create its own Star Trek universe, inspired by everything from the original series to all of the movies.

CBS Studios

But let's set aside the movies for a minute and run down which Star Trek would be best, assuming that shows that were heavy on action and light on handwringing would make for good MMORPG gaming (full disclosure: Star Trek and CNET Networks now share the same parent company, CBS, which we at Crave happen to think is terribly cool):

• The original, swashbuckling Star Trek, which featured a svelte William Shatner; Leonard Nimoy; three seasons of Klingons who looked like swarthy, sweaty humans; green alien dancers; and occasionally brilliant writing. Lots of good fist fights and Shatner's faux kung fu (and who can forget Sulu thoroughly enjoying the sword play in "Day of the Dove"?), but the show's best moments were ultimately nice pieces of science fiction, like the famous "City on the Edge of Forever" episode, when Shatner has to sacrifice the comely Joan Collins to save the future.

Gaming factor: 7 out of 10

CBS Studios

Star Trek: The Next Generation, my personal favorite with Patrick Stewart as Captain Picard, the android Commander Data, and an erudite flavor of benign imperialism doing its best to bring peace to the cosmos. There was some terrific writing on this show over the years, but a tad too cerebral for a video game?

That's not to put down games, but I'm not sure how you can role play Next Generation's brilliant final episode, which forced viewers to expand how they think about time. On the upside, it introduced the seriously bad-ass Borg, who did very, very bad things to Picard.

Gaming factor: 8 out of 10

CBS Studios

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, in which a highly macho Avery Brooks (he of Spenser: For Hire and A Man Called Hawk) commanded a frontier space station in a war-torn area terrorized by the Cardassians and other menaces. Who can forget the epic battles between invaders from the Dominion and combined Star Fleet and Klingon fleets? Major kick-butt action, though it was disappointing that Brooks never once growled, "Spenssssserrrr."

Gaming factor: 9 out of 10

Star Trek Voyager
CBS Studios

Star Trek: Voyager, which was sort of a Lost in Space-themed Star Trek. This was never my favorite, truth be told. The aliens were always a little too fuzzy, the plight of the crew of the Voyager a little too pathetic, and the writing a little too dull. Would be it be a good video game? I say no, but the show did introduce us to Jeri Ryan as the Borg Seven of Nine, whose U.S. Senator husband, in an interesting crossroads with current events, was forced to resign after a bizarre sex scandal was revealed in divorce proceedings, making it easier for his Democratic opponent, Barack Obama, to win election to the Senate.

Gaming factor: 5 out of 10

Star Trek: Enterprise, which I much confess I didn't see an awful lot of. This took us to the early days of warp travel for humans, when the Vulcans didn't quite trust them to navigate the stars without getting into trouble. From what I did see, there were some interesting battles, but the humans were usually way outgunned by the aliens they encountered, making for plenty of hit 'em and get-out-of-dodge gunplay.

Gaming factor: 6 out of 10

Which Star Trek do you think would be best as an MMORPG?