I just want to start out by saying that I am not an MMO player. I have never played World of Warcraft. I don’t know how to raid. I am not leetz to your skillz or whatever the deuce you children say. I have tried out a few MMOs and they have all crapped out on me at about a month into it. It just wasn’t interesting for me. So I went into DC Universe Online with some trepidation. I do love the DC comics. I’m down with Superman and Batman. Well, up with Superman since he can fly, but, whatever. So knowing all that, let me just say one thing.
I am totally renewing my subscription at the end of the month.
DC Universe Online is, at its heart, another MMO. Which means that you’re going to do many of the same things you do in other MMOs. You create a character, play pretty pretty dress me up with them, outfitting them with clothes and powers and personality. Then, you let your character loose on the world, doing quests that revolve around killing a certain number of things or rescuing a certain number of things or transporting a certain number of things. And I’m sure that for a lot of well seasoned MMO players it will all seem rather old hat. Well, again, it is mostly new to me, but there is stuff in here that will make even the most hardened of WOW-inflicted shut-ins sit up and take notice.
You’ll start the game by creating your super hero avatar. It’s not the deepest character creation system I’ve ever seen, but it’s a good start in terms of pieces and powers. You first select whether you will be a hero or a villain before going on to choose why type of hero you will be. You can be a meta, meaning you have superhuman powers, to be mentored by Superman or Lex Luthor. You can be tech, meaning you made yourself a neat little super suit, to be mentored by Batman or Joker. Or you can be magic, a member of homo-magi and able to wield magical powers, to be mentored by Wonder Woman or Circe. You then mold your character’s appearance, putting their costume together from tons of pieces. A neat thing about the costume is that you collect styles of costume as you go, so whatever item you pick up, you can instantly change its style to match what you want your costume to look like. I think that’s super awesome.
Now you have to remember, this is a console game. The controls are different than those of other MMOs. In most of these games you click on something and then select an attack and then the attack happens. But DCUO is much more active and participatory. You have to pull off combos and use button presses to do those combos. It feels more like Double Dragon at times than Dungeons and Dragons. And since we’re on the subject of combat, let’s go further into that. You can get some cool new powers as you level up your guy, all of which are customizable. I have a fire guy. His name is Blazing Man. I have given him a neat little power combo that starts with him sending out a fireball to set enemies on fire. Then I use a secondary power to turn anything on fire into a big ol’ bomb. Causes area damage and sends said thing on fire flying into the air. There is great satisfaction whenever I pull this move off.
Oh, and flying. Let’s talk about flying. No game I have ever played has nailed flying like this game. It just feels… natural, I guess, to lift off into the air and go soaring through the towering skyscrapers, arm stretched out in front of you in the classic Superman pose. But of course, this isn’t the only way of getting around the absolutely huge areas of DCUO. You can also be an acrobat, able to climb buildings and glide through the air like Batman, or you can tap into the Speed Force and become a speedster like the Flash, gaining the ability to make gravity your bitch and run up the side of buildings.
So like I said before, the game is MMO basics. You kill or collect or transport things, it’s all standard stuff. But the DC flavoring that this game gets makes the game stand out. For example, in the Gotham level I’m not just beating up enemies, I’m weakening the Joker’s forces before he unleashes a deadly cloud of Joker Gas over the entire city. I’m not just rescuing NPC’s, I’m saving G.C.P.D. members from the Joker’s evil circus. I’m not just moving an objective to a random goal, I’m taking the giant comical bombs filled with Joker Gas into the river in order to render them harmless. And when I’m done with all that, I get to talk to Commissioner Gordon or, if I’m lucky, Batman himself. For a DC geek, it’s just the coolest thing ever. It gets even better when you realize how much there is to explore, when you realize just how many cool DC landmarks are in this game. I flew to the top of the Daily Planet. I explored the Cadmus facility at Area 51. I found the Batsignal after following its blazing trail of light. I even stood over the roses left in the exact spot in Crime Alley where Thomas and Martha Wayne met their end.
Now, are there down sides? Sure there are down sides. Sometimes the game gets choppy. It is an online game after all. We must bow to the whims of the Internet Gods for this thing. Sometimes the players you play with aren’t the most dependable. Your armor gets worn down way too easily. You’d think that stuff made to go into battle with the likes of Gorilla Grodd and Doomsday would be made to last. And speaking of super villains, why is Harley Quinn so much harder to beat than Bane? That doesn’t seem right. Oh, and before I forget: race levels. God do I hate race levels. I hate them in all games that have them. Who decided race levels are fun? They’re not. The only good things about the race levels is that they sometimes show me where some hidden collectibles are.
Well, I’ve talked way too much already. The thing is, MMO’s are hard to review. It’s a continuous experience. All I can really say is whether or not it is worth the investment. So I am saying that right now. As someone who has failed to get into every other MMO that I have tried, this one is getting my subscription dollars. I strongly recommend that you give this a try.