An "away team" refers to a group of crewmen who sally from their starship to conduct a mission. For each of the game's missions, the player must form and command an away team which he selects from among seventeen crewmen, each with different specialities. Game action consists of sneaking through various enemy installations trying to solve puzzles without being detected by guards or security systems. The game is set in the period after the Federation's war with the Dominion (c. Stardate 54800 — c. October 2377).
Star Trek: Away Team was released in 2001, the year Activision gained complete control of the Star Trek game franchise. Star Trek: Away Team was Activision's first Star Trek title following the success of Star Trek: Voyager - Elite Force in 2000. By this time some PC gaming magazines were beginning to note a decline in the quality of Star Trek games, and many reviews of Star Trek: Away Team make reference to this so-called "Star Trek stigma". Despite this, Star Trek: Away Team had reasonable success in both sales and reviews.