Star Trek Online: Game Performance Analyzed And Benchmarked

Image Quality Analysis

We benchmarked the game at two levels of quality to accommodate the low- and high-end cards in our testing suite. We used maximum detail to show how the game performs under the most difficult circumstances and low detail to show how it performs with older/slower graphics hardware.

Critiquing a game with two distinct arenas of play--space and ground--makes things a little more interesting than usual, so let's have a closer look at each one.

Detail Levels: Space

Let's start with space. At maximum detail, the space arena can be a thing of real beauty. The backgrounds and environments have the potential to be breathtaking. Ships and space objects cast shadows not only on themselves, but also on other ships. This makes for some dramatic effects. For example, when traveling in an asteroid field or by a space station, a large shadow will often swallow your ship whole. There aren't a lot of space games that use shadows to good effect, but happily it's done right in STO.

At low detail, space loses a lot of lighting, texture, and shadow detail. Environmental objects like asteroids and space stations become noticeably flatter looking. But on the whole, the space environment remains appealing because you're looking at your own ship from a distance and don't often get close enough to notice the difference. The pleasant nuances are missed, though.

Detail Levels: In-Ship and Planet-Side

At maximum detail, ground-based areas are sometimes less impressive than space. While items and characters do seem to be rendered with adequate detail, some textures appear to be blurry and at a lower resolution than what you would expect them to be. Starbase interiors seem to be one of the environments that have a bit more detail to offer, but many of the planet-side environments are quite bland. I will add that since the game has been officially released, these areas seem to be more polished and detailed than they were in the beta.

At the maximum setting, shadows and shader detail do help the ground environments look better. We also note that all of the indoor environments appear to be huge, even starship corridors, probably to accommodate the third-person floating camera.

I do admit that sometimes I felt the space and ground games are a little disjointed from an artistic point of view, but I will admit that space is an easier arena to render in impressive detail.

Ground areas also lose lighting, texture, and shadow detail at low quality settings. Your eye will definitely lament the loss of shadows here, as the game world appears much flatter and less engaging.

Image Quality: GeForce Versus Radeon

The difference between Radeon and GeForce graphics cards is minimal. Fan of either vendor will experience near-identical results and there are no noticeable differences to speak of.

In the STO forums, some players have reported crashing with the dynamic lighting setting enabled on Radeon cards. I didn't notice this phenomenon in space, but I did experience a few crashes during ground battles and I haven't had a crash since disabling dynamic lighting. It is difficult to say that this was the cause of the problem without a lot more testing, but the solution did seem to solve my problem, and the dynamic lighting option didn't have a noticeable effect on render quality.

  • Silmarunya
    jdh64Admit it TOMS......Geforce rules this games as well as others.......quit being ATI fanbois......Wait till the new series of cards comes out....then whatcha gunna do...cry!!!!
    Not really. This is just about the only benchmark where a Geforce card beats a comparable 5000-series one, so there's still a nice lead for the 5000 cards. With a driver update, this result can change in favor of the 5000, which would give them back every game tested here...

    And nobody should be very concerned about the GTX 300, at least not for the first year and a half. The initial mammoth chip will be expensive, hot, noisy and more powerful than useful for gaming. By the time it scaled down properly, ATI will have refreshed cards in the market for a while, probably offering better performance, lower power consumption and more features for a similar price tag.

  • gilbertfh
    This game looks interesting and could be a good diversion once in a while but I can't really see it replacing the games I am playing now. I have played other cryptic studios games and they really didn't engage me for long. If I buy it I will at least play it for the included month before purchasing a subscription.
  • toxxel
    If your interested in playing this game give it 6 months or so. Currently there is no content at max level, and it takes less than a week to hit max rank. Klingons only have pvp content but more is promised for both factions. Server instability and downtime have plagued launch mostly for the overwhelming player base and not being prepared.

    I for one would wonder how this and Champions Online run since ST:O runs on a modified CO engine.
  • footsoldier
    Sh*t game. Sh*t graphics. But, good article. Geforce do weirdly beats 5000s tho, maybe some driver updates will fix it.
  • JeanLuc
    How does such an ugly game mange to tax state of the art video cards?
  • notty22
    Star Trek and Nvidia ROCK, thats not news to people in the Know. I feel sorry for ati***s scared of Fermi.:)
  • jennyh
    I guess Nvidia leaned on Don after this months "Best gaming graphics card".

    Batman AA was the last one of these reviews I believe. Either way, twice in the past 4 months you've managed to review games that go quite wildly against the norm in terms of the gtx260's actual potency.
  • cypeq
    it is a shameless advertisment...
  • cypeq
    notty22I feel sorry for ati***s scared of Fermi.
    I feel sorry for nVidia now becouse roles on marked turned and now nVidia is on position where it needs to chatch up.
  • Onus
    Subscription-based? Pass.