REVIEW: Star Trek Timelines for iOS and Android

Star Trek Timelines

Star Trek’s history with video games is not a particularly illustrious one. Over the years, Trekkies have had to deal with buggy action games, space battles with questionable controls, and blatant cash grabs. When I heard about Star Trek Timelines last summer at the Star Trek Convention, I thought we might finally be getting a Star Trek game that could buck the trend. And while Timelines doesn’t reinvent the mobile game wheel, there’s enough content here for a fan to be entertained. Read on for my full review.

The hook of Timelines’ story and gameplay is that an anomaly has caused alternate realities to begin colliding, and Q recruits you, as a new Starfleet captain, to travel the galaxy to settle disputes and answer distress calls. Exploring the Galaxy and experiencing alternate versions of characters and events are the main draw of Timelines, and on that the game delivers. Stopping an alternate-reality Worf from annihilating the Vulcan homeworld because in his timeline Spock was a tyrannical dictator is pure fanservice, and it’s generally a blast.

The graphics are surprisingly good; this has to be one of the best looking mobile games I’ve ever seen. Taking your ship into warp is oddly exhilarating, even though it’s just a glorified loading screen. Space battles look incredible, even if they do seem to suffer a graphical glitch here and there (in one battle my ship went momentarily invisible whenever I suffered damage).

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Space battle gameplay however is less exciting, with player activity limited to pressing a button when a certain characters’ ability becomes available. You can upgrade your ship to be able to use more abilities, so I could imagine it becoming slightly more complicated, but waiting for a timer and then pressing buttons wasn’t the most fun to me.

The away mission gameplay is much more substantial however. Choosing the right crew members for the mission is crucial, and my first few missions were an unmitigated disaster. Your crewmembers will have stats for certain attributes, including Medicine, Command, and Engineering. Of course not all crewmembers will have all of the attributes. I chose Picard when I began the game, who possessed Diplomacy, Command, and Science, a fitting group of traits for the captain of Enterprises D and E.

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Every mission will feature tasks that require some of these different attributes, but don’t worry, you won’t need to take crew members that cover every single one. The screen where you choose your away team has a map of the mission, where the different paths are laid out. Taking a certain route will let you complete it without resorting to covering every attribute with a limited number of crew. For instance, in one of the more difficult missions I encountered, I took crew members that excelled in Engineering and Security and took a path that only involved those attributes.

These away missions are the best gameplay element of the game, and kept me coming back to find more crewmembers and equipment with different combinations of attributes. Unfortunately, with more playtime, the novelty of the characters and the setting began to wear off and the game faltered slightly.

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As away missions and space battles become more difficult the player needs better characters, and sometimes the only way to progress past a mission is to hope for new characters with high stats in the right attributes. At the beginning, as you complete missions and space battles, you will accumulate credits, which you can then spend in the time portal (the Timelines store) to acquire random items. For 10,000 credits you can buy one “pack”, which contains either a character, item, piece of equipment, or starship schematic. This progression is fairly smooth until you run into a mission or battle that seems impossible to beat without replaying levels to gain new items or learning the faction system where you send crewmembers on missions for items and equipment.

The fastest way to find what you need is the kryptonite of many mobile games: spending real money on the game. Even though Star Trek Timelines is free to download, you can spend real money on Dilithium crystals, which allow you buy a pack that contains “rare” items. These items will always be better than what you can buy with regular credits, and without them the game can quickly become a grind.

Even if you do manage to get what you need, Star Trek Timelines suffers from what most graphically-intensive mobiles games suffer from: consistent crashing. Throughout my time with the game I suffered many crashes, and since the game’s load time is significant every crash means more waiting. I’ve confirmed this with other people playing the game on all sorts of devices, so be prepared for crashes when playing for long periods.

With the crashes and “pay to get ahead” nature of the game, Timelines might seem like it’s not worth it. But if you’re looking for a fun romp through the Star Trek universe, Timelines should absolutely scratch that itch. I wouldn’t expect it to change the landscape of Star Trek games, but if you are at all interested in seeing characters from all the series interacting, or taking Picard, Seska, and Sulu on away missions, then Timelines is worth the download.

2 and 1/2 out of 4 stars

Star Trek Timelines is available for free download on iOS (iPad and iPhone) and Android platforms.

This article is cross-posted at TheNerdAssembly.com. The Nerd Assembly is a collection of nerds and geeks from all different fandoms who geek-out on a regular basis about what they are most passionate about; including Science Fiction, Video Games, Comic Books, and whatever else they are excited about recently!



 

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Emperor Mike of the Terran Empire
January 28, 2016 12:39 pm

I played it and it’s ok. But it’s fun. Long live the Empire

Prodigal Son
January 28, 2016 2:07 pm

@ Andrew

Regarding the crashes, were you playing it with a WiFi network, or on cellular 4G? If it was crashing under WiFi, then that may be a software issue, not the connection?

witzend
January 28, 2016 2:39 pm

The DOS games “25th Anniversary” and “Judgment Rites” (the CD versions with the original cast voice acting) are still the only Trek games worth playing.

Numenoseum
January 28, 2016 3:33 pm

Patrick Stewart looks ridiculous standing there.

Clouseaus Enterprise
January 28, 2016 3:56 pm

Too buggy, even on fast wifi. Fail.

Legate Damar
January 28, 2016 4:09 pm

I thought the game was okay, but I hate the freemium format.

Son of Jello
January 28, 2016 4:50 pm

It doesn’t have to work all the time just has to work enough to get your money.

January 28, 2016 7:09 pm

I have been playing this game for a couple weeks now. I am loving it!
So many characters to get, plenty of missions and really interesting strategic elements.

I find myself doing quite well without the need to spend real money on it.

If you find yourself getting impatient, then that is what buying the dilithium is for. But if playing smart there really is no need. Unless you want a new ship ASAP.

As for stability, it has crashed 3 times for me in the weeks I have played, but that was before the last patch a few days ago. I have had zero issues since on my HTC One M8.

I highly recommend this game, as it is fun, casual, yet rewards a strategic mind.

Greenlightracer
January 28, 2016 9:38 pm

Another blatant cash grab, with no real sense of direction. All the “missions” are cut and paste. I’m shocked it got 2.5 stars! 1 or 0. DO NOT buy this game. And yes, it’s crashed more times then I can count on my two weeks with it, and I’m running it on an iPhone 6s plus…

Amorican
January 28, 2016 11:49 pm

I noticed in one of the pictures, it was possible to choose Jake Sisko.

Why in the world would anybody choose Jake Sisko? What’s he gonna do, write us out of this situation?

Tino
January 29, 2016 12:41 am

Mmh. I played it for a few hours and got bored. So I erased it.

Jumpie
January 29, 2016 9:19 am

I like Star Trek Online more !

January 29, 2016 10:17 am

I have been and always shall be a huge fan of “Star Trek: Starfleet Academy” by Interplay. I really enjoyed playing that game.

January 29, 2016 10:22 am

I hope I’m misunderstanding one of those pictures. Is KHAN a team member? That just seems really wrong…

CDR Arch
January 29, 2016 10:48 am

Best Star Trek game ever was Star Fleet Command Orion Pirates. But now it is getting difficult to find a computer old and still working enough to play it.

IKing
January 29, 2016 10:56 am

Am I the only one who thinks this would have been a good premise for a movie for the 50th anniversary? Maybe not exactly this.. but really well thought out story would be a great way to unite most characters from all eras. Just a thought.

Trek, Star Trek
January 29, 2016 11:32 am

I used to have a game on my old flip phone, a side scroller where Scotty starred and killed Klingons invading the Enterprise. That was more fun.

January 29, 2016 3:40 pm

Started out fun but I hit a wall quick. Without shelling out actual cash you are just stuck with the luck of the draw on the characters you get. I am stuck with maxed characters that can’t get past the next level. I don’t mean that I can’t solve the puzzle or need to keep trying. I mean you can’t move past certain points in this game without spending money or getting lucky in “drawing” a high character. There really isn’t much strategy involved. Very basic and gets repetitive fast. I would pay $5 bucks for a full version of this but refuse to shell out a never ending cash stream when it will only possibly help me limp along. To be honest, I’ve only given it as much time because it has a Star Trek overcoat around it.

Upper Peninsula Of Michigan Guy
January 29, 2016 8:39 pm

Can anyone recall the Star Trek game where Q was present in video clips

and you explored the ship with various results due to the twists and turns

you took on the bridge and what character you chose? This was from the

late 80’s – early 90’s and was on 2 DVD disks. I think I still have it somewhere.

Son of Jello
January 30, 2016 12:25 am

Are their any fan made games ?

Niall Johnson
January 30, 2016 5:32 am

@20, Are you referring to Star Trek Borg?

Captain Hackett
January 30, 2016 11:46 am
Dustin
January 30, 2016 11:30 pm

A note on the crashes: this seems to be an iOS-only problem. I’ve been playing the Android version since a day or so after release, and I’ve not had this problem.

SirMartman
January 31, 2016 1:24 pm

Enterprise getting repairs,,,

thought you might find this interesting,

http://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/tv-radio/76439951/Starship-Enterprise-in-the-shop-for-repairs

B Kramer
January 31, 2016 3:12 pm
boborci
January 31, 2016 11:12 pm
Scott Frazer
February 1, 2016 2:31 am

Hi Bob! Welcome back buddy! Hope you are doing well and I look forward to seeing your various new projects.

Back to the game… It crashes 2 in 5 times for me. Worst crashing I’ve had on any app. Also there is a bug where you can’t level up some characters… Troi is a good example. I’ve got the Psychology Text but I can’t equip her with it so she can’t advance and she’s the best doctor I have so unless I buy a doctor I can’t progress in the game.

I’m sticking with it because I enjoy it, but I wish they would hurry up and patch it.

Scott Frazer
February 1, 2016 2:34 am

@3 Witzend – Totally agree with you pal. Am currently playing Judgement Rites from GOG.

On a related note, I made new graphics for the game using the animated series graphics as they are a great fit for that game but the guy who understood how to use the software to build the game itself deserted us. Such a shame because myself and Kail Tescar put an awful lot of work into. There were a LOT of different frames of animations which were tedious to make but looked fantastic in game. It looked just like the animated series BUT it had all the 25th Anniversary voices and scripts. Such a shame it game to naught.

VZX
February 1, 2016 6:30 am

Two things:First, Use Hubble’s Law to deduce the age of the universe based on the expansion speed of galaxies. It’s about 13.8 billion years old. Will it last forever? We hope, only if the Universe’s density is at the critical value.

Second: The USS Franklin design is awesome. I like how small it is, smaller than the Defiant. MY guess is the crew find her on the planet and get that old bird to fly again! I’m really liking what I see so far for Star Trek Beyond.

Trekker
February 2, 2016 10:44 am

best trek game of all time was Voyager Elite Force

Toonloon
February 2, 2016 3:32 pm

@31 I used to mod for that one too

mhder
February 24, 2016 10:53 pm

I’ve been “playing” since launch because I miss Star Trek. But it’s really hard to call this a “game.” You just match the right stats and that’s it. Calling any of this “gameplay” is a stretch. Having said that, the stories, items, characters etc are very faithful to Star Trek. There are so many detailed nods to elements we’ve seen across all the series that I recommend it to any Star Trek fan. Just don’t expect it to hold your interest for too long. I would have been glad to take a graphical downgrade in exchange for some sort of “gaming” element.

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