I must admit that I
was pretty pumped for this game to be released in Australia and it's
finally here. With some great PR from DC Comics and Sony, DC Universe Online
has been in development for a considerable amount of time and after
some lengthy delays, the game finally got into my grubby little
hands after so many cool trailers and press releases.
Upon receiving my review copy, I was ready to jump into the game and
start my courageous superhero career but unfortunately I had to wait
again. Firstly, my PS3
needed a software upgrade and then the game commenced downloading
several gigabytes to patch the game. My heroics would need to wait.
When the patches and upgrades were finally installed, I was finally
able to get into one of
the most anticipated games of 2010... Just like a DC comic book, the
game starts with an amazing cinematic which introduces the player to
this super hero universe. With a classic good versus evil storyline,
the game commences with the Justice League of America getting their
collective hides handed to them. As the villains defeat iconic super
heroes like Superman and Wonder Woman but as opposed to defeats,
these heroes are actually killed in this alternate future.
Unfortunately for Lex Luthor, his victory is bitter sweet because
the mastermind alien, Brainiac commences his invasion on Earth with
its heroes dead and with it, mankind is doomed. Luthor does
the unthinkable and steals the exobytes from Brainiac in order to
travel back to the present day to infect everyday civilians. The
technology behind the exobytes will transform these citizens into
heroes and villains in order to help stop the deadly invasion by
Brainiac. That's the plan... and this is where you come in.
From here, the player needs to create their superhero avatar which
includes their appearance, super powers, mentor and which allegiance
they will have in the DC Universe. Your mentor (e.g. Superman) will
dictate which type of powers are accessible to your character such
as a technological advanced hero with gadgets, thanks to Batman or
magical based powers, thanks to Wonder Woman's tutelage. I'm a huge
fan of Dr. Fate fan, a DC character who has been around since the
40's and I was hoping to use this character as my template into the
DC Universe. Could I do it? Yes but more actually... no, but
we'll get to that later.
The character creation tool on the PS3 is a little clunky at best
which allows you to choose gender, body shape, appearance and more
importantly, your costume. The tool works but it is a little fiddle
some due to the limitations of the PS3 controller but does give you
a plethora of options when designing your character. Choosing your
super powers is
fun as well, whether strength based like Superman or how you get
from point A to point B such as flying or super speed.
Characters are also fine tuned by not just their super powers but
also the gadgets and weapons they have access to which does mimic
the traditional MMO experience. As opposed to some other MMO titles,
I was quite impressed by the scope of customisation options for your
characters which really makes you an individual in this online
gaming universe and I have yet to see someone look like my
character. Iconic abilities are available after level 10 for classic
powers such as super sonic flights and other interesting and fun
super abilities. When it comes to basics, when you create your character, they do
mirror the traditional MMO classes such as fighter, mage or healer.
Cameos, cameos and more cameos. This game contains more DC comicbook
characters than you can poke a stick at. Whether you are visiting
Aquaman in the Justice League Watchtower to purchase some mystical
artefact for your character or rescuing Zatanna from the nefarious
villain Felix Faust, the fan service here is quite unparalleled.
Many of the missions that you engage in will see you bumping into
familiar DC comic characters and whether it was my character teaming up with Superman or rescuing Zatanna, it does
create a sense of connectivity this impressive universe.
Unfortunately some of this connectivity is lost in the massive size
of the gaming environment. The first night I played DC Universe
online (DCUO), it was like flying through a town that has been devastated
by some contagion or Zombie outbreak. Even though you can fly
through the majestic streets of Metropolis or the dark and gothic
alleys of Gotham City, they are quite underpopulated in terms of NPC
citizens. Depending on what time you play, the universe might even
be lacking quite a few player characters and thankfully things have
gotten better as there are more real players joining everyday.
City designs is another issue with the game. Everything looks a
little too perfect and pristine and has this dated feel to it as
well. Though there is a great mythology behind this title,
quests are pretty much your standard MMO affair. You are given a
mission to either defeat an enemy, defeat a set numbers of enemies,
rescue someone or recover some kind of artefact then repeat the
process. There are however some mini-games that are littered through
the game such as speed races or flight races that are kind of cool.
It kind of works but doesn't at the same time.
The developers of DCUO also boast that traditional MMO titles are
grind fests which force players to spend countless hours of their
life searching for experience points as they fight enemy after
enemy. DCUO is far more generous and like the Flash, levelling is
not a chore and after playing it religiously for a few weeks now, my
character is rather powerful for a DC mystic. Although I have been
beaten quite a few times by the League of Sin, a group of player
But in order to embark on missions, you need to fight. In essence,
DCUO is a button masher and I do mean that in the literal sense.
There are however a variety of combos to use and also power-ups that
does mimic the super hero genre well but for the most, I felt like I
was just mashing buttons on the controller. If you have played other
MMO's before, combat is a little on the easier side, unless you
accidentally fly into a lair full of villains and their
henchmen which does make things tough. However if you take your time
and use your wits, you will be more successful than not. The
highlight of combat was accessing your super powers that was
actually fun but I always craved for more abilities. Your
super power skill trees does allow for some great replay value for
other characters but
when you are out in the real world fighting crime, you are limited
to a set number of superhero powers.
Combat does allow you to team up with other players but then you
have to access the socialising facet of the game. Unfortunately on
the PS3, communicating with other players is a chore. Using your
DualShock controller to type out a message, one key at a time can be
excruciating. There are however some set communication menus that
lets you choose pre-typed sentences and of course, the social
gestures. But this is one game that definitely needs a keyboard if
you want to maximise this experience. Voice chat is available but I
have yet to meet one player who utilised this.
Player vs Player areas can be a little scary if you're new and
joining a group is your best chance of surviving as you unleash your
abilities towards your new found foes. From securing mystical
artefacts to my favourite, Legends PvP. This allows you to take
control of either a superhero or villain base as you try to stop it from
being overrun by your enemies. I know it has been done before but
seeing some of the iconic places from the comicbooks did put a smile
on my face. If you do get "killed", you will flee from the scene and
appear in a safe zone until you can fly back to the battle. You are
Graphically, DCUO is an interesting game. The cutscenes look amazing
but some of the cities and areas that you visit have this dated look
to it. The music is too generic and lacks that superhero oomph.
Voice acting ranges from good (Zatanna) to poor (Wonder Woman) and
at times, the sound effects kept on disappearing for me. Another
issue with the graphics is that the game suffers from pop-ups.
However, I've seen some wonderfully designed characters though and
all the official characters do translate well.
I've tried two different characters in DCUO with Superman and Wonder
Woman as my mentors and unfortunately I've pretty much seen it all
now such as the dark and gloomy streets of Gotham to the clean and
bright streets of Metropolis. The cameos in the game are very cool
and being a comic fan, it's a true experience to come face to face
with these characters to either interact or assist them on a
mission. It is easier than most MMO's but for me, something was
missing. The characters that you create are too generic and at times
when I was flying through the streets, it was like seeing World of
Warcraft characters walking around. That shouldn't happen in a
superhero game. Then you have the sometimes long loading times and
updates that does put a thorn into this game not to mention the
monthly membership which should be a little more affordable. For
now, DC Universe is a little rough around the edges and hopefully
the developers will release additional areas in the upcoming months
but for now, my experience was a little less than satisfying.