Be a Superhero

Defender - Champions Online
Defender – Champions Online

So you want to be a Super Hero? Well there are a few choices out there. Here are three, and my choice for Best of Breed. All these are Free to Play, so you can easily try them all.

Marvel Heroes is of course based on the Marvel Universe. But I’d give it a pass. It’s a pretty game, but only 2.5 D [Dimensions] in this age of 3 Dimensions.

DC Universe Online is a very pretty 3D game and is a very good choice. But it has a complicated overloaded control scheme that I didn’t like.

Champions Online is a full 3D experience in a new Superhero world. Cell shaded, with Roll-Your-Own heroes and Costumes, it’s a great game if you want to be social, or if you don’t. Brought to you by Cryptic Studios which is owned now by Perfect World.

 Marvel Heroes

Marvel Heroes Online
Marvel Heroes Online

Marvel Heroes is created by the designer of Diablo II. So if you liked Diablo II, you may like this game. Diablo II dates from 2000, and at that time 2.5 D games where apparently acceptable. I don’t think they are now. At least I don’t like them.

By 2.5D I mean that the full 3D environment is not present. The camera angle is fixed or down facing. In this case it’s fixed in isometric [45 deg NE facing]. So you can’t look around or up.

The controls are not the standard WASD that we have come to expect.

The models are very nice. Although you cannot customize  your hero, you can only play one of the heroes from the series.

I’m giving this a pass. I can’t get past the fixed camera angle and the lack of standard controls.

DC Universe Online

DC Universe Online
DC Universe Online

DC Universe is a full 3D game with standard controls. You customize your own hero to fight on the side of right [Superman] or wrong [Luthor]. There are lots of choices for how your hero looks and acts. For powers, you choose a prototype based on one of the heroes from the comics.

You get started right away with a long, action packed tutorial that teaches you the combat and movement techniques in the game. The movement controls are standard WASD, but the combat skills are overloaded on the mouse buttons, and the number keys. The mouse is heavily overloaded with lots of combos with as many as 9 taps to start a combo. IMHO, that’s way too complicated.

I played a hero and a villain for a few levels and enjoyed the game. Here are excerpts from the tutorial.

You can find some more DCUO videos on my YouTube channel.

I found DCUO fun, but with the complicated combat controls and the, as  you will see, limited character customizations, I’m giving DCUO a TRY.

Champions Online

Champions Online
Champions Online

Champions Online is created by Cryptic Studios which was recently purchased by Perfect Worlds. Champions Online is a great game. Here’s why:

It’s a full 3D world with great artwork. They have hired great voice actors too. See if you can pick out the guy who sounds like Michael Dorn -Star Trek TNG – in the tutorial.

You get thousands of ways – both free and paid – to customize your hero’s so they can look like anything you want. As you level up, and join a SuperGroup [Guild], you will get additional costume slots that allow you to easily change your look. Your look has nothing to do with the Gear you are wearing. The Gear gives you stats, but has no effect on your look.

Costume competitions are one of the many ways that being Social is encouraged in the game. There is even a large theater in the power center where they hold costume competitions and other events.

Alerts and repeatable missions allow you to continually make progress toward your final goal of level 40, and I’m sure that there is much to do beyond that. After the short tutorial mission, which you can skip for your 2nd and later characters, you can participate immediately in Alerts, which are short missions that give you XP and other rewards. During alerts you are sidekicked [Level Changed] to level 30 so you can play with other folks on an even footing. Here’s a short video of an Alert.

Alerts are an easy way to level up your character. After the tutorial, if you just camp on Alerts and repeat them, in no time you will be level 10.

As you level up, just keep training your skills and powers. You can do this right from the interface. No visiting a trainer in Millennium City. Change your powers / skills / traits any time, even between combat during a mission.

Side-kicking changes your apparent combat level both up and down. Up to participate in Alerts or other missions with team mates, or down to mentor or help a friend. I’ve participated in Alerts at more than 20 levels above my own, as well as missions only a couple of levels above my own. You can’t side-kick to do missions alone, but you can go with a friend to do missions both above and below your own level.

Many quests and missions don’t require visiting the NCP that gave you the quest or mission. You get the reward immediately and then can move on without backtracking. During long missions such as Whiteout there is very little backtracking as  your are led through the mission. One of the segments of Whiteout is loosely based on John Carpenter’s movie “The Thing” and even gives a Perk called “Who Goes There?”. During this portion of the mission, the background music is reminiscent of the sound track of “The Thing”. I’ve only just begun to find the popular culture references in Champions Online. I’m sure you will enjoy looking for them too.

I could go on and on about Champions Online, but I need to get back to the game.

See you there, Hero!

– ww