Ok…let me say this right up front. I have never been one for online gaming. I have heard all the horror stories from server outages to late updates and even players who become SO addicted (*cough* World Of Warcraft) to their game that they are never heard from again!
But the bottom line is that I just have a problem paying for something I have already bought! It seems to me that $60 bucks for a game should be enough. Subscription fees just make me want to skip it entirely.
Still….I knew that EVENTUALLY someone would come up with an MMORPG that I would have to try. They (and who are “They” anyway) almost got me with Star Trek online but I dodged that one deftly by copping to all the bad reviews. I thought I was safe.
And then I saw the trailer for DC Universe Online. I was immediately sucked in by the idea that I could play alongside such luminaries as Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. The Beta reviews were mostly enthusiastic AND it was coming out for the PS3 so it would be very convenient. Plus a free month of playtime.
I figured I would shell out the $60 for the game and play the hell out of it for a month and get my money’s worth that way. I have played many an RPG and a month is about the lifespan they can enjoy before I have played every square inch of whatever world I am in. Then I lose interest and trade them for something new.
So much for plans. I have been playing DCU for ONE week and I have already signed up for the monthly subscription. The game is thoroughly engaging, beautiful to look at and so BIG that I am not likely to lose interest anytime soon. I admit that I am hooked! With that said, here are my impressions of the game.
Cinematics/storyline – The opening movie and the cut scenes between major missions are great looking and have a style that never lets you forget the roots of this game… DC Comic Books. There is a heavy Jim Lee influence in the look of the game. The back story (which is being fleshed out in the bi-weekly comic *CBJ SALES PLUG!!!*) has Lex Luthor in the future (you know, the bald guy who is covering up a sever man crush on Superman through evil deeds) teams up with Brainiac to destroy all of earth’s Meta Humans. Yes, Lex finally succeeds in killing Superman.
But as they say, there is no honor between megalomaniacs and as soon as Lex wipes out the last hero, Brainy turns on him and reveals that he is going to go all V’Ger on earth and digitize old Lex himself.
Luthor realizes that he has been sort of a dufus and hot tails it back to the past where he spills his guts to the not dead Justice League. He lets loose with the exobites, stolen for Brainiac and which give everyone POWERS. With so many new heroes created all at once, just MAYBE the future can be averted.
This is a very nice jumping off point for the game which takes place in the present. Not so much story as to bog you down, but enough to give the player a feeling of direction. It also has the nice dividend of being very open ended because we don’t know precisely WHEN the apocalypse is coming down.
(Oh and speaking of the Apocalypse, how can you have one without Buffy and the Scoobys?)
Character Creation - This might be the single best feature of the game. There is almost NOTHING that you cannot customize all day long. You WILL find yourself redesigning your look throughout the game.
During the character creation you have the choice of being a hero or a villain. You choose a “mentor” like Superman, Batman, Lex or the Joker among others. These mentors give you your early missions.
You can choose to be anything from a Superman like powerhouse to a Batman type Dark Avenger, and anything in between. The power selections cover a very wide range of options. While you can’t play AS an existing DC character, you CAN create one who is just like your favorite. (I just wish they had the rights to a Tick template!).
Gameplay – If you have ever played Marvel Ultimate Alliance or Marvel Vs. Capcom, you will be right at home. This is a real time combat game and is completely optimized for a console controller.
You can ALWAYS find a fight, even without a mission because the bad guys (or good guys if YOU are a bad guy) are everywhere. Just head over to any Brainiac incusrsion zone and wail on some robots for fun!
But there are missions aplenty and they are easy to find. They come in several flavors. There is the standard find this, protect that and fight the boss mission, there are PVP Arena and Classics missions. There are cooperative missions that send you with other players into places like Gorilla Island or Area 51. You will NOT run out of things to do.
Just exploring the various areas can fill several long gaming sessions. I am playing in Gotham and have not explored HALF of the city. EVERYTHING from the GCPD building to Ace Chemicals, to Crime Alley has been recreated for the game.
The Watchtower took me hours to explore!!
Tech Issues and Load Times - When you first pop the game into your PS3 or computer be prepared…to sit back. Because it will take a few HOURS to download the files and updates you need to get started. However subsequent up[dates only take about 15 minutes to a half hour to download and install.
Load times are pretty dreary but not excessively so and the splash screens during loads are great. Who gets bored looking at a wide screen high def Power Girl I ask you?
As I am just at level 12 (the cap is 30) I have just scratched the surface of the game. I have not even made a trip to visit my buddy Clark in Metropolis yet! So these are my very early impressions. But I can say that if you are a DC comics fan, a first time online gamer (like me), or a grizzled veteran of the MMORPG wars, there is a lot to like about DC Universe Online.