NCsoftÂ® Corporation (KSE: 036570.KS), the world's leading developer and publisher of online computer games, and Cryptic Studiosâ„¢ announced the release of the third expansion of the award-winning City of HeroesÂ® massively multiplayer online game, Issue 3: A Council of War. The expansion includes the villain group, the 5th Column, taken over by the mysterious Council in a war that will sweep through most of Paragon City'sâ„¢ zones. Issue 3 also brings new "ancillary" powers and "epic" archetypes to high-level players, a new mid-level zone called Striga Isle and several automated zone events.
As Issue 3 launches, skirmishes erupt as the Council troops attempt to complete its takeover of the 5th Column. Though both the Council and 5th Column soldiers are in pitched battle with each other, with little provocation they will turn their fury against Paragon City's citizens and protectors. To keep the population of Paragon City safe, heroes of the city need to subdue the combatants.
"The takeover of an entire villain group is a major advancement of the City of Heroes story line," said Jack Emmert, City of Heroes lead designer and creative director for Cryptic Studios. "We wanted to demonstrate that, like any good story, City of Heroes will have plot twists and unique events that will continue to challenge and involve our players. This storyline shift will lead to future changes that will be part of the game's ever changing environment and lore."
The "ancillary" power set introduced in Issue 3 is for characters at level 40 and higher and allows them to access powers outside of their primary archetype power set. These new powers, for example, allow strictly melee characters to access an array of ranged attacks.
"This is something of a reward for upper level players who seek a character that is complete and fully-realized," said Emmert.
Also, characters who reach level 50 can now evolve into new "epic" archetype characters with origins based on outer space visitors, the Kheldians. These characters emerge at level 1, with Peacebringer or Warshade archetype options.
Striga Isle, a hazard zone accessible by players at level 20 and above, is the location of the infamous Port Noble, a haven for assorted cutthroats and black market traders. The island is marked by Mount Richardson, which contains an underground lair for the evil Council villain group.
Additional features of Issue 3 include the ability for players to adjust the difficulty of missions and several automated, zone-specific events such as an attack by a giant octopus in Independence Port and the appearance of a ghost ship that travels through the waterways of several Paragon City zones.
City of Heroes, which was recently named "2004 PC or Console Game of the Year" by Billboard Magazine, is available at most North American computer game retail outlets at a suggested retail price of US$39.99 that includes the first month of online game play. After the first month, players will be charged a monthly subscription fee of US$14.95. The City of Heroes Collectors DVD Edition, which includes enhancements to the game, a limited edition Statesmanâ„¢ HeroClixâ„¢ figure and other exclusive collectibles, is available at a suggested retail price of US$49.99. Sixty-day game time cards are also available at many North American retailers for a suggested retail price of US$29.99. Current City of Heroes subscribers can purchase the City of Heroes Collectors DVD Edition and receive 30-days of free play credited to their account. The game is rated Teen by the Entertainment Software Rating Board.