The mmo with a super flavour!
City of heroes is a solid game with a good visual style and a unique approach to online gaming. Aside from guild wars (its main allure being its lack of a monthly subscription) it is arguably the most welcoming game for players looking to get into online gaming.
Having said that, it is arguably the cruelest introduction you could receive. The opening and highly in-depth character customisation is certainly the most varied on the market and a good means to express your online identity however you see fit; with plenty of character slots so you can go at the game in radically different ways should you decide. However this is arguably its biggest selling point. It soon becomes a level grind with the difficulty stacking up considerably about half way making it almost impossible to solo all the way through. Your only goal ends up being to reach the top to try out the new archetypes and a fresh set of powers. little care is given for the story lines and various plots of the vast array of evil 'organisations' from personal experience i found this was due to the shear number of out of place mingling villains who would appear to have nothing better to do than grunt continuously while cheering on a fellow evil doer who’s biggest evil scheme to date is to steal a woman’s purse.
the fact that all of their evil plans seam to surmount to a large number of villains renting out an apartment block so that they can stand around in it (possibly next to some interactive object) and wait to die left me with little care for what they were doing and why.
There is most definitely (probably) a very in-depth storyline expressed in text boxes shown to you by whoever gave you the mission before you set off. So if you fancy a good read and think that you could quite easily get into the story line then this point against doesn’t really apply to you.
There is a very wide range of powers available for your heroes and they are all unique and interesting enough but considering how long this game has been out its hard to understand why there aren’t a few more power sets. Shape shifting for instance, quite possibly a corner stone of super powers, has been regrettably completely ignored. Also the sound for the powers, as interesting and accurate to the cheesy world of heroism they are the first time you here them, you will eventually be playing this game with the speakers turned off.
That being said i have yet to play another game that has captured super powered travel so well. Soaring, leaping, or zipping over, through and by one of the various and vast zones of paragon city are something of a selling point in this game. One you have to work for.
Speaking of the city, in my eyes this is possibly the biggest hindrance to the game. It simply feels too small; this is due for the most part to these colossal and highly imposing great big blue barriers surrounding each zone within the city essentially filling what would be a rather attractive draw distance with a big ugly neon blue. the biggest improvement they could ever make to that game in my eyes is to break those barriers like the wall.
the combat is just how you would expect all MMO's to pan out. High light your target, select your attack, hope it hits him. Then repeat. This is the second aspect of the game that makes it feel like a grind more than anything else and makes it difficult to immerse yourself in the game. However its hard to criticize something for following the rules of online rpg's
one regrettable aspect to this game is the lack of cut scenes which are present in other MMO's in some ways such as EVE online (one of its biggest selling points being its unique visual flare) and world of warcraft which immerses you in the game straight off the bat with an introductory look at your race and city with a bit of back-story thrown in. considering the numerous and stunning cg animations made by cryptic studios to promote the frequent expansions made on the game as well as the single and somewhat lengthy cut scene setting up the entire back-story to the game (explaining the mass accounts of villainy, aliens, increased amounts of super heroes and the big honking alien space ship) its a pity that not one of these was actually present in the game itself. However the comic given freely to subscribers over the internet does give more credit to the visual style of the game.
the way to play this game is with other people. solo play just isn’t as fun (provided you don’t end up playing with a bunch of intolerable louts, but you risk that in any MMO) being able to form teams of super heroes like that of the fantastic four, the justice league of course the xmen and being able to coordinate your efforts and powers to really feel a sense of achievement that you're an essential part of a well nit team. Making the new powers and badges earned feel very well deserved. having said that, having your teams limited to 8 seams at times to be a bit of a hindrance, especially when you go up against one of the towering monsters in the game.
This is for the most part made up for by the inclusion of the super group system. this along with the super base and evil lair functionalities, provides a place to feel that your part of something and a place where in you can see your accomplishments grow
pvp in the game takes place in what appears to be a mock up of the centre of the city and in various abandoned towns where in you go head to head with the super villains from this games evil counterpart. This always feels like a very forced affair. With nothing at stake and no one to save it just seams like all your doing is pinning your character against the skills of another. considering the point of this game is to make you feel like a hero (one of the main aspects of which is to have a rival villain to duke it out with over the fate of the world in an on going saga for justice) they’ve gone all out on making sure it feels as clinically detached from the immersive aspects of the game entirely, somewhat defeating the point.
Essentially, rumbling with a villain feels like a very spacious version of the previously established arena style pvp where in super hero proves their prowess over another in a battle for street cred, just a bit less organised
the after sale support for this game is phenomenal with constant updates and new features added to the game on a permanent basis. This alone has compelled me to continue this game considering the almost limitless potential this game has. With the recent addition of an entirely new game, the veteran reward system and now the new invention system. Nothing is stopping them from doing anything they like with this game, they could very well pull down those big ugly blue walls (here’s hoping) enabling you to fly from the edge of to the back end of bloody bay. Wouldn’t that be something?
to conclude, this is certainly a very solid and entertaining online MMO with fantastic after sale support and a shoe in to place fans of the super hero franchise and if you can haul yourself through the hundreds of plot lines and bury yourself into the story then you will play this game to no end. But if you’re the type who can’t stand a grind and needs a more abrupt and obvious story to latch on to then this might not be for you. this is a game you could spend years playing and you will be learning stuff all the way through as your character evolves as well as the world around it.
not an MMO to be ignored.