Champions Online gets a lot of things right and a few things wrong. It’s not going to be a WoW killer, but it’s still a great game in it’s own right. It’s strengths are an amazing character creation system, exciting combat, some innovative ideas and great graphics. It’s weaknesses are problems leveling through certain levels, a slightly cumbersome menu system, and lack of quest variety.
The character creation system isn’t everything that it was said to be. You can’t make a fat person and there are a lot of things that aren’t there. That being said though it’s by far the best super hero character creation system out there. I found that creating characters was extremely fun (and have quickly filled all my character slots). I’m not usually an alt-aholic but this game definitely brings that out in me. If you start off with an exact image in your mind you might be disappointed in how your character comes out, but if you go with the flow as your making the character you can end up with some awesome heroes. In game I have seen everything from mutant alien creatures, eccentric gadgeteers, samurai, terribly mutated monsters and many more. You can even, for most powers, define what color your powers are and where they generate from (do the lasers come from your forehead, eyes, fingers or toes?).
There’s never a dull moment in the combat either. It’s an energy based system and you have a basic attack that generates energy for you but does little damage and then more powerful attacks that suck up a lot of that energy. The different power sources in the game play a big role in keeping it exciting also. I found my sword-wielding knight almost always used energy sucking powers because his attacks did less damage all around but all of them had a chance of regenerating energy. The Electric Philosoraptor (tiny beast in a power suit) on the other hand had to use his base attack very frequently to save up enough energy to spend his major powers, which would drain most of the enemies health. Other power sources end up with a bunch of minions and don’t do much themselves and some are made up of buffs that make the hero extremely powerful, but for only a short time.
The downside to combat though is that leveling isn’t consistent. They seem to be working on it and at least once a week a patch comes out, but there are many instances where you just run out of quests for your level. And anything more then two levels above you ends up killing you fairly frequently. From the forums and my own experience I get the feelings that the main slow spots are around level 13, 23, and 30. This can be very frustrating and the only way I’ve found around it is to go to lower level areas and do quests there. It would help a lot if the enemies gave decent experience, but they don’t. There is almost no point to killing enemies, nearly all your experience will be coming from quests. Also, the PVP in the game is fairly glitchy and unbalanced. I had fun playing it, but someone who was into more hardcore PVP might get frustrated pretty quickly.
On that note the quests are also lacking a bit. Every MMO has this problem, there are only so many times an NPC can ask you to kill x amount of boars before you start wondering if your actually affecting any change. I wouldn’t say Champions Online is worse than the MMO norm and some of the quests are very fun and fairly epic, but the ones that really wow you are few and far between.
The cell shaded graphics in the game are pretty stunning. It seems to also have been built with longevity in mind. I own a fairly good gaming computer and can’t run it at full graphics, however if you take most of the graphics down and I can still play it on my dinky laptop without too many problems. The ability effects of both the players and the enemies have many particle and energy effects. The feel of each zone and the details added are good also. You don’t get the feeling that everything in the game is stock.
There’s also a lot of other random good ideas the Cryptic Studios has integrated. Some are unique some aren’t, but they add to the game. I played WoW quite a bit before Champions came out and one of the frustrating things about WoW is never being on the same servers as the people you meet in real life. In Champions their solution to this is to have one massive server, but run many instances of each area. You never are in the same area with more then about 100 people so it never gets overrun and you also never have to worry about not being able to play with friends.
The flight types are creative and each one has advantages and weaknesses. You can swing on webs, fly with jet boots, slide on ice, dig under ground, and jump tall buildings. The options are creative and each one will leave with better or worse abilities when it comes to overall speed, ability to reach random places, and ability to avoid enemies. After playing each main type for a while I’ve not found that any are innately better than another.
Another great innovation about the game is the ability to switch roles at will. There’s a little menu button that allows you to choose if you want to play a defending position, a supporting position, an attacking position, or a more balanced position. Each option will change how you receive stats. Your health and damage reduction will increase dramatically with a defender stance, but your attacks will not do much. Certain power sources lend themselves towards certain stances better and when you are soloing it’s best to stay in the balanced stance, but all in all it means you won’t be waiting for hours to find a tank anymore, you’ll just have one of your party members switch stances.
Personally, I like the game a lot. I started out thinking it was a bit mediocre and I think the learning curve adds to that feeling, but after I found a few power sources I enjoyed playing it quickly became my new obsession. It does have quite a few glitches and the server was even down for nearly a whole day during the first week (though they credited everyone’s accounts with an extra day for that) but all these are expected with an MMO that’s just starting up. The core gameplay is very fun and I can only see it getting better with time. If you haven’t already, and have any interest in super hero stuff, I would recommend giving it a try.
[tags]Champions Online, MMO, Video Games, Super hero, geek[/tags]