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 MMORPG review #1: Champions Online

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Daennika
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PostSubject: MMORPG review #1: Champions Online   Wed Jan 27, 2010 6:18 am

Hey guys!

So as some of you may know: I'm a pretty big online game nut, in fact I'm quite the addict when it comes to anything involving 3rd person roleplaying in "permanent universes" and sometimes money and other rational thinking keeps me from investing money in most of them. And you may also know that I'm a recovering anonymous WoW addict of 1 year (almost).

BUT! I was curious about Champions Online, and I tried it out yesterday. Here is my *BIG* review for it.

Alright, so Champions Online is an MMORPG. When people see that title they think "City of Heroes" but it turned out CO has nothing to do with that other MMO. It's hero-based, comic book styled, colorful, fun, gameplay focusing on fast action more than skill. I never tried City of Heroes but I heard it's not super fascinating so let's end that comparison.

The big ass review.

Champions Online lets you customize your characters from all angles: you choose not a class, but a set of super powers and move up from there (you can even customize the powers you wanna start with) and then it's THE SIMS but in more awesome. Body, Face, race, robotic or alien features are completely up to you. And once you go down the list of costumes, armor, attachments and accessories you just know that you're gonna like the game. My first idea was to create a "Unicorn". Let me explain:

I had this running theory over the years that it's rare to find females in geeky medias such as comic books or sci-fi. Now look for black females in Star Wars: NO SUCH THING. Although last year I came across photos of a black female SW fan wearing Mandalorian armor. That's right. Awesome, would you say! Well that is what I call a unicorn. And you can call me a racist because I will just have one thing to say to you. MOAR UNICORNS pl0x!

Anyway, once I spent a couple hours in the Character Creation to prove that making stereotyping look cool is possible, I decided to move on with the game. Oh, other awesome feature of the creation stage is that you can "Save" the skin/model at any time during the process, which is very handy when you want to use the same template for re-rolling.

So I click "Play!" and get thrown in a Gotham City type of map, only less dark and more cheesy, where insectoid aliens are invading the planet and apparently it's our job to handle it. Commence a series of destroy missions, rescuing citizens and other heroes.

Leveling goes at average pace by MMO standards but it will take you quite some time to figure out your favorite playstyle. And for that, you just need to try out different super powers for your character. Monsters or "mobs" tend to gang up on you as you advance so you want to focus on splash damage, or "AOE" (area-of-effect spells) to up your chances of survival. So in order to do that, I ended up deleting my character 3 times and still without finding my ideal combat style.

By the end of the tutorial quests that range from level 1 to 5 I ended up wondering what I really liked about the gameplay so far. It's rather simple to get through the action with only 2 powers to think about, the controls are pretty similar to other MMO's and nothing really sticks out in that regard.

On the other hand, the interface is tricky and not very intuitive: the different indicators are cramped up around your character icon or your mini-map, so it takes a while to memorize where is what.

What makes it a limited experience for me is the "power-ups" you collect as loot from killing monsters, they can be used it slots on your action bars but work as passive attributes. There is no visual gear upgrade, so you want to keep that in mind when you create your toon: what you are at level 1 is what you will be at level 30 and so on. When you think of powers you want to think "stats" and what would make your hero even more powerful. Let me tell you that this game is easy: you are overpowered from the beginning and it's actually hard to die unless you haven't figured out how to press the 1 and 2 keys. Your hero has 2 dominant stats but nothing keeps you from boosting the others to change the way you want to progress. Basic, but in the end it still comes down to what you can use to fight.

So my overall impression for Champions Online is this: cool looking game, a bit tricky to adapt to, restricted tutorial phase (no travel powers, small map), insanely awesome character creation, but dull gameplay. I wish there was a way to see more power evolution from the start instead of just letting us throw mailboxes or lamp posts at prong-like aliens. In that angle, not worth the 39.99.

My advice to you if you are curious: download the trial edition and have fun playing around with the character creator! I know I will keep doing that until my brain reverts into a passive indulging blob and pull out the credit card to purchase the game. Then I'd be able to make a review for the game and what it entirely delivers.
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