Over the weekend I have played through the new story missions that came out with Victory is Life, and yeah, it was all over rather quickly. Only six new missions for a big arc like this seem a bit skinny, but what we got was some of the best STO missions yet.
Oh right, SPOILERS AHEAD.
The two standout missions are “Quark’s Lucky Seven” and “Tenebris Torquent”, so I’ll talk about these specifically.
“Quark’s Lucky Seven” is done very differently than previously STO episodes: you are mainly playing Quark and his merry band of backstabbing Ferengi in various sequences, similar only to the Tzenkethi episode “Renegade’s Regret”. The story was very well-written, and actually made me appreciate the greedy scoundrels quite a bit. The caper itself (yes, it’s not a mission… it’s a caper. No way around it) is a bit audacious; I wouldn’t have thought that Quark, of all people, is brave enough for it. Trolling and earning the personal wrath of an Iconian is no small thing! After all, we know how they hold a grudge.
It’s also interesting to learn that, hey, the previous bad guys in STO didn’t just disappear into the ether. I’m not entirely sure why the Fek’ihri flew all the way to the Gamma Quadrant to fight T’Ket’s remnant Iconian fleet, but it’s definitely an interesting development. And how the mighty have fallen! T’Ket’s remnants are barely fending off the Fek’ihri and the Hur’q. And to think, the Iconians almost overran the Alpha and Beta Quadrants just a year ago.
I thoroughly enjoyed all the double-crossing and plotting by the Ferengi, and in the end returned the Sword of Kahless to the Klingons (House of Martok, specifically). And Leck was a hoot; if only I can get his beast-killer sniper rifle.
“Tenebris Torquent” is a standout because of the big reveal that explains the whole thing behind the Hur’q. It’s neat to learn that the Hur’q were actually peaceful and docile until the Founders messed with them, and the proverbial chickens are coming home to roost. Unfortunately the gameplay itself drags down the story quite a bit: I don’t play FPS games because I get motion sickness, and all the maze-running in this episode gave me a really painful dose of precisely that. I had to go rest for an hour after I played this mission… it wasn’t pretty.
The worst part of the maze-running is the last part of the mission, where you are asked to collect three storage consoles. Two of the three are easy enough to find, but the third one…. GOSH, I kept running around in circles in this motion-sickness-inducing maze like 1701 times! Eventually I found it, but by then my brain was having a meltdown.
(HINT if you are stuck: Use the antigravity ports in the middle of the rooms… and go UP.)
Other than that, I feel the whole arc is done very well. The writing is noticeably better, the story flows better, but I gotta say, Cryptic really dialed it up with their character animations. I don’t know what they did, but people actually look like they are surprised and shocked now! They used to act surprised without expressions… which, you know, is not an easy thing to pull off. I’ve noticed that some of the character emotes are also working properly now, so I have to assume Cryptic fixed some animation bugs and is now taking full advantage of what’s available.
The voice-acting is also well-done across the board. My least favorite happens to be Kira Nerys; I think Nana Visitor was trying to play a more mature and calmer Kira, but came across as barely recognizable as the original. Everyone else was good though – I especially liked the banter between the Ferengi crew, but the real standout is Garak. Not only is Andrew Robinson spot on as he ever was, but man, Cryptic did an amazing job animating his toon! Garak is definitely one of the highlights of the expansion.
So yeah, this small bunch of episodes is arguably the best we got from STO so far. Despite complaints of the lack of content, personally I will take quality over quantity any day.