[Editors Note: The following review was done by nerdbastards fan and uber nerdy girlie Sarah Moran. The review is in depth, awesome and a little sexy. For more on Sarah you can check out her blog sarahthisis.tumblr.com and follow her on the Twitter @SarahThisIs]
DC Universe Online delivers; be the hero (or villain) you want to be.
Think back to all those years ago when you were running around your neighborhood with friends
pretending to be simply the best retail employee Target had ever seen. Or wait, did you pretend to be
a sub shop employee? Movie theatre usher? Low-level paper pusher of some mind-numbingly big
corporation? No, you didn’t, because that would make you lamest kid on the block. What did you pretend
to be? Super-heroes. Every child, nee ever person has imagined themselves being better than they are
now. Becoming stronger, faster, smarter, whatever improvement you needed to make your life easier or
accomplish a daunting task ahead of you. We’ve all wanted to be “super.”
Breaching those subconscious dreams and aspirations is the newest MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer
Online Role Playing Game), the brainchild of Sony Online Entertainment and DC Comics, DC Universe
Online. A game that delivers on your dream of being a super-hero (or villain, you might have been
a twisted little child, you sick bastard) and gives you the best place to strut your super skills, the DC
landscape. Other super-hero MMOs have come before, but none of them have had the name recognition
of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman or the Joker. These are icons to nerds far and wide, big enough
to herald the first successful MMO on a console? It’s sure looking that way with DC Universe Online
selling like hotcakes around the country. John Smedley, President of SOE tweeted on Jan 24th, “People
are asking what the PS3 / PC split is on sales. It’s 52% PS3 and 48% PC.” Who’d of thunk it? And once
you get passed the fact that serious journalists like myself are getting important data from a twitter feed
you have to ask yourself, an MMORPG that’s selling well on the same console that brought me God of
War III, should I check this game out?
Let me start my recommendation by saying I’ve been awaiting this game for a long time. The
announcement of this game even influenced my purchase of a PS3 over an XBOX 360! DC Universe
Online is available for the PS3, PC and I believe Mac’s running Boot Camp. My experiences with the
game are PS3 based, if any PC DCUO gamers want to chime in please do. Remember that incredible
opening cinematic that hit the web like a ton of bricks a few months back? Well it looks even better on a
40 some inch HD television. I re-watch the opening clip every time I or a friend makes a new character,
it’s just jaw-dropping awesome. The jist is, to save Earth from a grim future where Braniac assimilates
us all Future Luther has stolen Braniac’s nanobytes, which contain the DNA of heroes and villains of his
time. Luther releases those nanobytes into Earth’s atmosphere converting helpless citizens into a new
breed of heroes and villains. Then lets the current Justice League in on the gig and splits. Saving the
world or not Luther is an ass. I appreciate the effort that went in to crafting a story which ties very well in
to the already established DC Universe. There will even be a comic book tie-in, because DC’s not stupid
and they need to capitalize on what could be their biggest video game hit in years.
Before diving into character creation you might want to think about what kind of server you’ll play on. There are two server choices, PvE and PvP. And what does that mean? Well, let me share some of what I’ve been learning. I’m new to MMOs and have only dabbled in free trials before. While DCUO is very much an action game and you won’t feel completely lost if you’re an MMO n00b like myself the important components of an MMORPG become clear early on. You are expected to be playing alongside and hopefully interacting with dozens of other players. PvP is Player vs Player, meaning at any point a player of the opposing team could show up and whoop your ass. I know, it’s happened to me, a lot. Stupid Lvl 30 jerk-wads fucking me up mid-mission. PvE is Player vs Environment, on these servers heroes and villains will only occasionally run in to one another when on similar missions. You can choose to flag yourself for PvP on a PvE server, meaning you are then visible to enemy players. I would suggest if you want to concentrate on leveling up (the current level cap is 30) stick with the PvE servers, missions can take forever if you are being continually pounded by a bunch of heroes. Saying that, I have enjoyed the PvP servers as they have forced me to become a smarter player. Button mashing will only get you so far in this game.
Freshly granted your powers from Braniac’s nanobyte technology you begin your character creation. This
is a highlight of the game. While I’ve heard it’s not as robust as say, for example City of Heroes which
has a character creator where you can tweak almost every element, you’re still given a vast number of
options to get your character right where you want them. For body types there are three choices: small,
medium and large. Males add more height and bulk the larger you go; females get taller and each have
large, gravity-defying breasts. It wouldn’t be a true super-hero game without impossible boobs, would it?
From here you’ll choose your alliance (hero or villain), a mentor (heroes: Superman, Batman, Wonder
Woman; villains: Lex Luther, the Joker, Circe) and movement mode (flight, super-speed and acrobatics).
If you’re brand new to large environment games and want a way to travel the massive landscape quickly,
choose flight. You’re mentors decide in what city you’ll begin and with what missions. For example if
Batman is your mentor you’ll start in Gotham and fight the Scarecrow. If you align with Wonder Woman
you’ll begin in Metropolis and you’ll help Zatanna fight off Faust. You’ll eventually have a chance to
complete all these different missions in both cities but your mentor decides where you begin.
There are six different power sets you can choose from: gadgets, mental, fire, ice, sorcery and nature.
You might feel this limits you but the power trees are very deep. For instance I have two characters, a
hero and villain, both with gadgets and their powers have completely different functions; one is more
distance based while the other attacks real close. A lot of this depends on how your power interacts with
your weapon. For weapons there’s a lot more choice; you can have a bow, one-hand sword, dual wield
swords, rifle, pistols, staff, and the list goes on. You can even fight sans weapons with styles like martial
arts or brawling. DCUO has an abundance of costume and color choices to allow you to make a costume
that harkens back to the Silver Age of comics or a modern, tech influenced design. As you progress in the
game you’ll unlock more styles, giving even greater option to you costume design. I never felt hindered
when it came to creating my characters, and judging by the plethora I and my friends have made we have
yet to run out of ideas. I’m also not aware of a cap on the number of characters, but it’s possible this could
be limited down the road.
DC Universe Online is a role-playing game, not sure I mentioned that. But if you’re afraid the game play will be slow, turn based operations you’re wrong. If you’ve played any third-person action game in the last five years you’ll feel completely at home with the game mechanics. In fact the times when you need to sift through your inventory or check up on missions is when you are most vulnerable to attack, so stayalert, the game moves quickly. I suggest you find somewhere better than the top of a building to hide out, everyone looks there, you’re not fooling anyone. It’s a familiar layout; weapon attacks are located on your square and triangle buttons, jump with ‘X’ and circle allows you to interact with the environment. Yourpowers and items are located either on the left or right triggers with an accompanying button. I’ve beentold it’s similar to Marvel Alliance 2, but I can’t confirm this one way or another. I mentioned earlier youcan button mash and you probably will at first, but once you unlock multiple powers on several hot keys you need to be aware what button combination does what. Especially if you’re hoping to delve into any of the PvP action the game has to offer. While earlier I said you can choose whether to play on a PvE or PvP server, all servers allow you to interact with other players in either versus or team roles.
There are four types: Alerts, Legend Battles, Arena Battles and Raids. Alerts are instances where you
and three other teammates are sent to a location to achieve a task or battle a common enemy. The first
one is set in Area 51 and you’re stopping Braniac from stealing kryptonite. You can choose whether
you want to participate in either a damage or control role but all I’ve noticed is everyone running around
trying to complete objectives as fast as they can. It still works but I’m sure this behavior pisses off die-
hards who want everyone to play their role correctly. This is where the game succeeds in being inviting to
new MMO gamers, you don’t have to completely understand all this jargon and you’ll still have fun. The
Legend and Arena battles are where you’ll be matched against an opposing team. In the Arena’s you’ll
play as your character and be expected to capture command posts and defeat enemy players. The Legend
battles are where you take on the role of a legendary character, such as Batman, and fight alongside three
others against an opposing team of four. These battles tend to take place in well known locales like the
Batcave or Arkham Asylum. You unlock the ability to play as different Legend characters throughout the
game. Often you’ll have a team of four Batmen tangling with a team of four Harley Quinns, like what my
first Legends battle was and it was effin hysterical. The Raids I am less familiar with as they are taken on
by higher levels. Yes, believe it or not my highest character is only Lvl 17. But my understanding is they
are larger PvP matches, similar to Arena battles.
I don’t have only love and admiration for this game, at times it can be downright frustrating. Especially
when the servers are down which is more frequent than I would like. As many of you probably know this
game had its release date pushed around quite a bit, and the final switch from a late March release to mid-
January might have been a little too optimistic. While playing you’ll still find glitches, especially sound
glitches where the dialogue cuts out or none of your attacks have a corresponding effect sound. These
can definitely be disorienting but are not a game-killer. I have faith in the developers to be constantly
improving, they’ve already added quite a few more servers to handle the growing demand. I’m not
trying to make excuses for SOE when things fuck up, but I also have no plans to ditch the game due
to a few bugs. Subscriptions fees will also be a new thing for a console-based game. Like with many
MMOs there will be a $14.99 a month fee to play. Outrageous! But my understanding is this, DCUO
will be constantly maintained and updated thanks to your fees. So if you truly want one of the best MMO
experiences available, it ain’t free. Nice little perk for PC players though, apparently there is a $200
lifetime membership which if you figure it out pays for itself in a little over a year. Again, it’s no use to
those of us on the PS3. Here’s hoping they find some way to reward us loyal, early subscribers.
One final, big flaw the PS3 version sports, terrible communication. It’s practically impossible to
communicate with other players unless you have a headset. It’s not required to play the game and you can
use a keyboard (or type from your controller but it takes eons and everyone will leave you before you’ve
typed ‘hello’) but for a game intent on making itself action-y and fast paced the typing is a hindrance.
For a PC gamer using the keyboard comes naturally but when you play on a console with a controller,
jumping to the keyboard to plan a strategy with friends is irksome. So a headset is must, unfortunately,
but I don’t really see any other way around it.
What really sells DC Universe Online is the environment. Just the other day my hero, an archer named
Guinevere, went toe to toe with Giganta, then helped Batman, yes THE Batman, thwart a plan of the
Joker’s. Pretty cool, huh? Just hanging out in these familiar cities, visiting places like the The Daily
Planet or Amusement Mile, it will make you giddy. Like that little kid that used to run around the
backyard pretending to save the world, well in DCUO you can actually save the world. Granted, it’s
a fictional, computer-generated world but the accomplishment still feels good. Interacting with iconic
characters and locales is hands down the selling point of this game. This is a game made for fans of DC.
Plus there are countless chapter ending clips based on the illustrations of Jim Lee, they’re beautiful! If
you don’t geek out hard for DC like myself you can still have a blast but you’ll miss all the fun of waiting
on your favorite, obscure character to make an appearance.
So, should you buy it? Well, do you love the DC Universe, dream of being a part of that world and can
handle a monthly fee to be allowed to play? Then yes, you need to get this game. I haven’t played another
game since DCUO and if I can keep up this kind of devotion I won’t feel like I’m blowing 15 bucks a
month. If you want a taste anyone who pre-ordered the special edition received a buddy code to share
with friends. Or if you have a friend with the game see if they’ll let you make you’re own character, I
know I personally have three characters but dozens have been made on my account. It’s too much fun not