Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Never Fear, Dekker Sampson is here

Okay, so that ridiculous name was mine as I play around in City of Heroes. Now, this game has been out for a while, but I thought I might as well do a review on it because I didn't start playing it until recently.

For those of you who don't know City of Heroes or City of Villains, it's a game that is produced by Cryptic Studios, and gives us a whole new look into the world of MMORPGs. And after you get through the long and beautifully done character creation, you'll find that this game is not much of a let down; no wonder it's been a constant in the gaming world for the past 3 years and spun off into novels, comics, collectible card games, pen-and-paper RPG and an upcoming TV series (all the things we're made of here at Nerd Evolution).

As far as character creation is concerned, creating a character consists of several steps. First the player selects an Origin, an Archetype and a primary and secondary power set. Next the actual avatar with its costume is created. Lastly, the player chooses a name and can optionally write a background story to add some flavor to the character as well as creating an individual battle cry.

There are five Origins a player can choose for his/her character that dictate what type of enhancements the character may use, affect a single short-ranged power and can influence the various villain groups that the character goes up against; these origins are Natural, Magic, Science, Mutation, and Technology.

There are also five basic Archetypes in City of Heroes that affect a character's Power choices throughout the game. Blasters are primarily long-ranged damage dealers. Controllers have powers that allow them to prevent their foe from moving and attacking. Defenders complement others by providing a wide range of healing and defensive powers for other characters. Scrappers are melee fighters, dealing damage quick and close-ranged. Tankers' best offense is their great defenses and ability to take as much damage as they put out.

City of Heroes also has two "Epic Archetypes" which are designed to be more challenging to advanced players, and can only be unlocked after reaching the level cap on any other Hero on a player's account. Currently, there are two Epic Archetypes which are the shape shifting Kheldians. Apparently one group is known as Peacebringers, peaceful symbiotic aliens that have light-based powers. The other group is called Warshades, more war-like symbiotes also known as Nictus who are normally enemies to the Peacebringers but have reformed their 'evil' ways.

Now, many of you out there might be big World of Warcraft fans, but this game has a twist that WoW doesn't have: other than the superhero/villain thing, the environment is interactive. It's this little aspect that made my gaming enjoyable. You see, you need points in order to level up your character (and yes, this is like any other MMORPG, where you have to fight for long hours at a time in order to gain a new ability or to make another more powerful). However, unlike most MMORPGs, you can't just run out into a forest and start killing animals. There is no forest. In fact, you live in a giant metropolitan jungle. The closest thing you got to a wilderness is a complicated sewer system.

But anyway, when you need to level up, you just walk down the street, and eventually you find your friendly neighborhood pedestrian getting mugged by a street gang, or you'll just find a group of teens breaking the noise ordinances. Either way, there's a whole lot of butt for you to kick without getting flak from the Paragon PD. In fact, if you get bored, you can just right-click one of the people walking around and follow them. It's kinda boring, but you get some good gang encounters that way. Or you could start a supergroup (like the JLA or something) and get to work on the baddies that drop from outer space or Villains world.

It's unfortunate that Marvel attempted to sue on the grounds that this game infringes upon their copyrights, because after they lost, Marvel put a game into the works that does basically the same thing, but uses well know Marvel characters and groups. No, strangely, Marvel selected Cryptic Studios to develop the game that will probably become the major competitor for CoH, but at least the company will still be be making cash hand over fist.

Well, I give City of Heroes an A because it is a beautiful game that doesn't have the useless running that you normally encounter with these kinds of games, and also seems to keep that fantasy factor we've all come to love from MMORPGs. Plus, I could boogie down in the middle of the street and cars would just push me out of the way. Always a good day when that happens.

Happy Gaming.

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