Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ready to be a Super Hero? My DC Universe Online Game Review

I think a lot of people (especially guys) dream of being a superhero and got our fix through comics, movies, or videogames. I grew up on a steady diet of DC and Marvel comics and sat through countless iterations of Batman (the 60s show, guest starring on Scooby Doo, etc.) and the SuperFriends. I know I am dating myself but I bet there’s a lot of you that did the same thing.
There’s been a lot of superhero videogames in the past and some of them were licensed and others like City of Heroes tried to replicate the licensed superhero universe and ended up getting sued for infringement by Marvel. Other than City of Heroes, there’s never been an officially licensed MMO for comic book superheroes until now. DC Universe Online has now been released for play on the Playstation 3 and the PC.

Game (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)  

I’m sure a lot of you are wondering the same thing I did…is the game any good and how does it play on the PS3? The quick answer is that it’s very good and it surprisingly plays very well on the PS3. When I was offered the chance to participate in the PC or the PS3 beta, I requested the PS3 one specifically because I wanted to see how well a game with thousands of online players inhabiting a massive universe would play on the system.
Right at the start, there’s a massive download to install the game on the PS3 which is expected but it took forever. Now that the game has been released, I’m hoping that this has been improved but I don’t know if it has. Once I was finally able to get into the game, I had the usual difficulty in finding a name for my superhero that wasn’t already taken. I have this problem with every MMO so this wasn’t unexpected. Once I had my name, I was allowed to pick my super power and my fighting abilities. I went with the ability to fly along with the talent to shoot energy from my hands. I also picked martial arts as my fighting ability since I thought it would be cool to fly up to a bad guy and do some kung fu. Basically, my character is a cross between Superman and Batman which is fitting since they are my favorite heroes.
There are countless variations you can pick as far as powers, talents, and looks go, and you also decide where you want to start and who you want to have as your mentor. I decided to do my apprenticeship to Batman and to patrol Gotham City, because who’s a better tactician than Batman? Plus he has the best villains of all time. I also really wanted to see the Batcave!
Starting out however, you don’t get to begin in your origin city but instead on an alien ship where you have to fight your way out while you learn how to play the game. Eventually, you will get to fight alongside Superman which was cool and once that was over, I was on my way to Gotham City. Now while my flying wasn’t too effective in the cramped ship, it was fantastic in Gotham. I loved the option of doing my own thing and not being forced to automatically follow some pre-ordained path. I could talk to DC characters to get missions or I could venture outside of the police station to beat up any criminals that crossed my path.
The controls were easy to use and I didn’t really suffer from any lag like I thought I would.  I have a fiber optic connection so others may have different results but I was pleased with how smooth the game ran.  I loved the endless amount of options the game allows for your costume and I spent a ton of time customizing mine only to discover that once you start equipping the items you pick up from fallen foes your look completely changes.  So learn from my mistake and don’t spend a ton of time customizing your outfit unless you don’t plan to ever utilize the upgraded equipment you pick up.

Video (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)  

The game looks great on a high definition screen and the characters and the cities look amazing. The colors are vibrant and the dark levels are suitably dark for Gotham City which is appropriately gloomy.  I especially enjoyed flying over Gotham City and seeing so many landmarks from the comics and even ones from the movies as I saw the bridge from Batman Begins.  The detail is impressive for even far off areas and the game’s engine does a great job.

Audio (4 out of 5 stars)

The audio for the game is also fantastic and I especially appreciate playing this game on my PS3 which allowed me to hear the game through my home theater set up.  Every punch, energy blast, or kick is felt and I loved every minute of it.  The music can be on the loud side but the sound effects and the dialogue (from a lot of the original actors like Keven Conroy as Batman) is clear and true to the characters.  Just for the audio on my speakers alone, I would pick the PS3 over the PC to play this game.

Final Thoughts (4 1/2 out of 5 stars) 

I played City of Heroes for around a year and I enjoyed it but eventually quit because I didn’t feel like my character was really accomplishing anything.  With this game, it actually feels like you are making a difference and the chance to take missions and fight from iconic DC characters added an unprecedented amount of enjoyment for me.  Honestly, this game blows City of Heroes out of the water.  I love the Marvel universe but my heart belongs to DC and this is the game to beat if you are looking to become a super hero!
Order the game today!

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