Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Trexels on Android

Purely by chance I stumbled across the latest Star Trek addition to the Google Play store.

Now all you iOS users will be mocking me at this point because you've had the chance to play Star Trek Trexels for some time however us "lesser beings" now have the opportunity to join the fun and I am truly hooked after a couple of weeks.

Whenever I download a new game from the app store I straight assume that it will have some type of in-game purchase requirement which will in turn mean that upgrades, changes and level ups might take a serious amount of time to take place because I won't part with a penny to progress further and quicker.

Graphically, Trexels is 100% retro, taking us back to those Commodore and Atari graphics of the 1980's which is an immediate winner for me. Produced by CBS Interactive, x-cube Games and Yes Gnome, its just about the best Star Trek mobile game out there as far as standalone experiences go. I'm sure some will say that the recent Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff event was as good and if not better but that was a game within a game if you will. Up to now all us mobile gamers had was a few sound boards and a pretty poor tactical game that vanished from the Play store.

Opening up you get yourself a basic bridge crew, the USS Enterprise TRX-1701 and a lot of options to explore. The menu screen is a mix of The Original Series and The Next Generation with your crew in classic uniforms on a classic bridge however the layout is set up around the LCARS elements from the later shows.

Your starship has the basics when you acquire her; a bridge, turbolifts, a sickbay, main engineering and a shuttlebay but that's about it. This leaves a lot of expansion room to add crew quarters, holodecks, a Battle Bridge, security stations, Ten Forward, torpedo bays....the list is extensive and split across four areas of Operations, Personnel, Science and Security. As you level up there are more rooms available to build (and more space to build into) and upgrade but beware, you'll need the right amount of Command, Research and Power resources to create your dream starship. I'd recommend getting your Starfleet Academy in place quick and get training that basic crew up with haste. The rooms all have their own advantages and bonuses, meaning that selecting the right one and putting it in the right place can have benefits to surrounding features as well as away missions.

Those valuable resources can be bought through the always available store or more satisfyingly come from getting your crew to work on the ship or through the missions which you can undertake across a range of star systems requiring different crew skills and away team set ups to complete. 

These missions are very cleverly done and give variety to the gameplay. While Star Trek Online chooses the old point and click pew-pew style and the upcoming Star Trek Timelines has chosen a more "dice rolling"  board game-esque experience, Trexels has gone a very different route.

As each scene of the episode adventure takes place, you collect cubes of energy effectively for defence and attack purposes. Sometimes it's diplomatic, sometimes a battle or on occasions there's the chance to do some techie work and bring computer systems back on line. These encounters bring you into contact with some of the best villains from the Star Trek universe in all their pixellated glory including the Klingons and the Borg (massively out of canon but who cares). Yet, dear adventurer, be careful to balance your mission with receiving damage or your crew/away team will be lost. You'll need to get your crew trained up as well. It might seem a breeze at the beginning but as the exploration progresses it does become harder and crew skills become much more relevant.

Of course there's the option to move ahead quickly by using dilithium to buy features ahead of their level unlocking or buy additional resources and even different uniforms for a nominal fee but I, as stated, have chosen the long haul as my wallet has a padlock on it. It is keeping me thoroughly entertained, ensuring that I have crew working in different areas of the ship (I only have three at the moment) to provide resource to then use to explore galaxies and build more aspects of the ship.

The crew, as noted, can be trained up across a range of skills in your own, onboard Starfleet Academy as you go. Again it requires a substantial amount of resource so be prepared to keep on top of our shipboard activities to get those numbers up. Either that or slap some cash into the game store. Talking of crew, you do start out with a whole crew of no-names taking up the positions of everything from captain to engineer through to counsellor but there are more familiar faces to purchase. Shame here is that they are limited to the crews of The Original Series and The Next Generation with Picard costing a jaw-dropping 59 dilithium crystals - and they aren't that easy to come by.

What you do get though are neat "guest stars" in the form of your favourite pixellated...erm...guest stars. Classics from The Original Series  such as Kang, Naked Time Sulu, Christine Chapel and Zephram Cochrane are all unlockable by completing various worlds through the game. For those who can't wait the scarce dilithium can be used to get them early. Some of these guests are still down as "Coming Soon" such as Wheelchair Pike and the Talosian which does indicate that there's expansion plans afoot for this gem of a game.

Likewise you can upgrade from a retro Constitution Class to a budget Galaxy Class which increases firepower and tractor beam power only. This for me is a bit of an issue.

Let me explain. While I am totally addicted to this game so much even my three-year-old is playing it within a few days of downloading I'm holding out that the team behind this game will be adding in the crews of Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise at some point as well as further starships with their own quirks. Not being able to select Sisko, Tuvok or Phlox does limit the game a bit but not to a point where it becomes boring in fact as I'm writing this my crew lounge is being built and I've got a few resources to collect. All in a day's work I suppose but I would like to have more variety in who I can have on my command crew and who I can sacrifice on an away mission.

I've also experienced a couple of little bugs in the first few days) I've now been playing for about 10 days). Occasionally I'll get double graphics overlay as if I'm playing two different areas of the game and it was impossible to unlock the holodeck feature by connecting Facebook and then like the Trexels page. I attempted this four times with zero success and finally chose to spend a bit of that valuable dilithium to get the room. On occasion I did find that Trexels wouldn't load until about the fourth attempt just after I'd unlocked Kirok. As I opened the second system it also required a serious amount of screen tapping to open up each world meaning I've now developed a very flat-ended index finger. Minor quibbles there that will surely be sorted in the future and I'm sure that the Trexels team will happily refund my dilithium(!).

Otherwise this is a great mobile game and well worth the wait. If you're an Android user like myself you'll probably have already snapped this up during the week and be playing it to death. While there's nothing overly technical about playing Trexels it does come down to being adept on managing your resources to complete the aspects of your missions. Buying additonal bits in this freemium world is nothing new so either be prepared to lose a few quid or develop your patience levels. The latter is cheaper.

So here I am, over a week into playing and not yet edging towards boredom or the gnawing need to buy extras and speed my way along. I have drained some dilithium - mainly thanks to my son purchasing Janice Rand - and completed the first sector. This has given me the Horta and Kirok as guest stars but a shortage of room space ahead of entering the second sector. It's also an expensive wait since I need a lot of resource, command and power to open up the next set of worlds but I can wait. I think. Time is now being spent increasing the number of crew, upgrading rooms and pooling funds for the next step forward.

The creators have also provided a limited time offer to purchase a Kirk/Spock pack for the princely sum of £3.80. Available until the end of June it might just tempt me to spend a few coins but then that's probably the deadly spiral into buying dilithium for a Crew Lounge and an Observation Lounge. Probably against my better judgement.

In conclusion with this one I am pleased although it's been a long, arduous wait and I know it will keep me going at least until Timelines drops in the not too distant future. The concept of the 8-bit graphics and simplistic gameplay works perfectly even if there is a mix of generations in the implementation. I'm now awaiting the next challenge which will hopefully mean I can get some more dilithium. 

I have no way to compare this to the release on iOS so if you are aware of differences and upgrades that aren't available on Android, please let me know as it would be good to get that second opinion and to fill in the gaps.

Are you playing Trexels? What are your thoughts so far?

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