giantstalker's DC Universe Online (PC) review

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Batman would look elsewhere...

So, I'll set up some backstory for this one. My brother bought this game totally out of the blue, a game that I have pretty much decided sucked before I saw or played it. I sat down and tried the first fifteen minutes on his account, and that combined with the fact another of my buddies had it, made me impulse buy. So this game that I decided to get after playing must have been fun, right? It must be a good MMO worth the $50 over Steam and a recurring monthly fee? Right?

Meet Enduring Freedom, the AK-wielding maniac hero of Gotham City

DCUO (as it shall henceforth be called) is an MMO - barely. You rarely talk to people, and even when you do, the chat system is utterly broken and slow. There is NO need to group up with anyone, at all, to reach the level cap. A level cap (30 if you're interested) that can be reached in three or four days of pretty casual play. There are only eight abilities you can use at a time (more on this later), two of which are fixed and can't be changed. Yeah, this game is definitely not bringing up a good impression so far. The thing is, when you first start playing it, none of these problems seem to matter.

Flying is for pussies; real men climb

The character creator is pretty good - it's no Champions online, or even City of Heroes, but it doesn't look as cartoony as those games. It allows for a fair bit of customization and I've seen a lot of cool looking heroes on my way through the game.

There's voice work; a lot of voicework, actually. Most of it is cheesy as hell but, I'll say this, it's just good that it's there. Throughout the game you'll be working with iconic DC heroes and villains, and they actually have a fair amount to say. One of the more enjoyable parts of this game is seeing which famous (or not so famous) comic character will turn up next as you quest onward for the level cap.

Gotham City - by far the coolest of the two cities in the game

The gameworld - basically Gotham city (Batman) and Metropolis (Superman) - is fairly convincing and spacious. It does seem a little deserted, though, as there are more heroes flying around than civilians or even cars. Moving around is made pretty enjoyable by the superhero-inspired movement methods: flying, like Superman, super speed like the Flash, and my favorite, acrobatics like Batman. These are well realized and look pretty good, as well as being just fun to use in getting around.

The combat system itself is great. It's a bit, how shall I say, clicky, but it's fun. It's also pretty original, which is honestly the best I can say for this game. Fighting in DCUO is done with combos, like a fighting game, but a lot simpler. Different clicks and directions will make you perform different attacks, in addition to just pressing numbers for powers and abilities. As a result PvP is very fast paced and frantic, but generally enjoyable.

PVP servers: Combat can happen anywhere at any time

Where DCUO breaks down is the fact that, while it's not a bad game per se, you're going to be paying $14.99 a month for:
-One of the poorest chat and game interfaces in a modern MMO
-Leveling with fifty quests that play almost exactly the same (kill x enemies, collect y things, save z people)
-Minimal and highly repetitive endgame content

As fun as the combat and the initial experience is, this is a simple multiplayer action game that Sony is charging a monthly fee for. If Sony had a different payment model, or even a smaller fee, I might be more forgiving for it's fundamental flaws. But as it stands, this game is fun for about a month; this also happens to be your initial free month. As with all MMOs, it'll get improved and developed over time, but at launch, that's how it stands.

Shortly before I broke into Bruce Wayne's office, punched him in the face, and stole his Batmobile keys

It's thrilling to make a unique hero, jump or fly around these iconic cities, and combat enemies with a fun battle system. But underneath all that is a really shallow game that's ultimately a little deficient. We can only hope Sony will improve it, because its got potential, but their track record with MMOs is not so great.

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