Video game publisher Atari, together with developer Cryptic Studios, have invited gamers to sign up at in order to secure themselves a special serial key allowing them free access to the massively multiplayer online game for up to two weeks before the game's release on February 2 in North America and February 5 in Europe.

A closed beta had been offered to players who had made the most of six-month or lifetime subscriptions offered for one of Cryptic's previous hit games, Champions Online.

Now there is an open beta available on a first-come first-served basis for anyone that heads to the Star Trek Online website and submits a request.

The open beta will run from January 12 to January 26, 2010, by which point the game should be almost complete. The beta will allow Cryptic to iron out any last-minute issues, such as those brought about by an increased number of players exploring the game universe at the same time.

Due to Cryptic Studios' good pedigree with previous superhero-themed online multiplayer games City of Heroes, City of Villains, and Champions Online, Star Trek Online is expected to fare well on review and amongst paying customers.

Star Trek Online is expected to cost $49.99 / €49.99 for the standard boxed version, with special editions available and the normal monthly subscriptions to be around $14.99 / €12.99, in line with Champions' pricing structure.