DC Superheroes Enters The MMO Mix
Every comic book reading gamer has dreamt of having the perfect superhero MMORPG, and since its original concept renders were distributed in 2008, DC Universe Online was considered a hopeful contender in making those dreams a reality. However, the very thing that will have flocks of gamers rushing to try DCUO will also be the reason for its ultimate mass exodus. Because just as every comic gamer has dreamt of the perfect superhero online experience, each one of their dreams has been drastically different from the next.
DCUO begins with the premise that through some twists and turns of both time and fate, the human population of Earth has now been granted superpowers. The purpose of this is supposedly to offer up a greater resistance in the face of Brainiac, which presents a global/mass-extinction threat to the inhabitants of the planet. But as it’s seen in the gameplay, the reality of bringing together both heroes and villains for a common goal is hard to pull off. Instead, what you end up with is a city filled with silly-named people that seem to only be concerned with fueling mass chaos.
Indeed, DCUO’s debut on the PS3 was both fulfilling and frustrating. Fulfilling, because once the character customization was completed and my avatar was set loose on the city, I was able to fly and explore the map with the greatest ease. Frustrating, because communication abilities-one of the major components to a MMOG-was essentially made more difficult to manage.
While there are still options to send and view messages in DCUO, the overall practice of typing and messaging was more of a hassle than a help.
On the PC, one would have use of a keyboard, but your average PS3 gamer doesn’t have that luxury right out the gate. And since PC and PS3 gamers are playing together in the same world for the first time, the game seems tailored for the lowest common denominator, which would be the console gamer in this case.
Of course, there are add-on pieces of equipment for the Playstation-and if you were considering this sort of gaming on the console regularly, I would suggest you buy them-but for your average gamer, this step backward might be enough to make them disinterested in the experience of MMOGs. Still, any USB keyboard will work on the PS3, and there are rows of dirt cheap ones at any computer store.
More criticism is dealt on the decision to make this title rated T for Teen, which has the villains being… not so villainous. As for the heroes, we could readily understand why a refrain from beating an enemy to death or attempting to save the innocent bystanders from harm would come into play; however, when a villain takes these precautions, it tends to knock the player out of the game and make the villains seem impotent.
Understanding certainly needs to be taken into account for this problem: the developers were simply reaching out to a broader market. But even to a younger age group, these issues could leave the game without any teeth or edge to it, which could hurt its chances in the long run.
The gameplay for DCUO varies on the type of transportation power and super abilities a player chooses for him or herself. You can run or climb up walls, or you can choose the freedom of flying-as mentioned before.
Your personality style is determined by the mentor you choose to take on. For heroes, it’s Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman; for villains, it’s the Joker, Lex Luthor, and Circe. From that, you can choose your weaponry of choice, such as swords, gadgets, power blasts, fire, ice, etc. Indeed, the large number of combinations found in the pre-planning stages of DCUO will give gamers the idea that this experience will be more than a button-mashing one, but the hope doesn’t always carry into truth, as fighting quickly becomes a repetition of key movement animations.
One of the features for DCUO that can definitely be praised is the talent the game has brought together for this project. Not only are veteran DC personalities such as Jim Lee attached to the game’s direction and creative board, but also top-notch voice talent with strong fan recognition, like Adam Baldwin (Superman), Mark Hamill (Joker), Wil Weaton (Robin/Tim Drake), and Arleen Sorkin (Harley Quinn).
Also in the win column is the game’s massive and impressive use of characters from all over the DC Universe. All the favorites-both mainstream and cult status alike-are represented somewhere in the gameplay, making it a rewarding experience for any comic geek. The main struggle arises when you pit less-than-stellar gameplay against the devotion of a comic fan, then toss in a monthly fee into that battle.
For $14.99 a month, it’s possible that the average gamer might find DCUO worth a try, but after the first month, my prediction is that the wave of players that flood into Metropolis will quickly die down, leaving only the comic fans who find a good fit in this online universe to save the day. In fact, the world might get more fun after that happens.
Editor’s Note: Game reviewed on a PlayStation 3.
Developers: Sony Computer Entertainment
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 3