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A big lover of all types of media, from Movies to Video Games, Books to Music, Television to Stage.

January 26, 2011

Too Short, Too Long, Or Just Right? DC Universe Review.

Greetings all.  I was just fooling around with yet another title on the Big Fish Games website.  The game I was playing was titled "Spirit Seasons: Little Ghost Story," and after completing 40 minutes of an hour long demo version of the game, I found myself more than halfway done the game.  I went to the forums and checked how long others were finding the title, and the majority were saying that they were completing it within 1 1/2 hours, and complaining that the game was too short and not worth the $7 asking price for the full version.  I heartily agree, and will wait until I see it available as a daily deal before I purchase it myself, and even then I'd have to have a lot of spare change burning a hole in my pocket to do so.  I love hidden object games, but Holy Shortness, Batman, that's nuts!

Which brings me to the other title I'm playing a lot of these days:  "DC Universe Online."  Freaking love this title, honestly.  For those of you not in the know, this title is the most recent MMORPG available on the market, and is only accessible to those using a PC or the PS3.  No X-Box love here, sadly.  Been futzing around with the title since last weekend, and I am enjoying it quite a lot.  It is in fact a Pay-For-Play title, however, and this is the part that is bothering me.

First off, the good.  The game allows you to play as either a hero or villain, but does not allow you to do anything against your archetype.  No beating on cops if you're a good guy, no helping little old ladies if you're a villain.  The quests, as far as I've played, are fairly straightforward being mostly 'go here, beat up these guys, return' or 'go here, interact with this item, return.'  Not overly repetitive, but not a lot of special stuff going on either.  What brings the game to life is the city around you, and the 'instances' you go into in order to complete boss missions.  While unlike games such as WoW, you can easily do these dungeons solo at the level they suggest for the quest, as the game can scale the difficulty for those larger or smaller groups to enter them, and this is a huge step forward for people to be able to access more content without depending on others to be good players.  In fact, except for one quest I just picked up last night, to deal with a wanted poster, I have yet to be urged by the game to group up at all.  There are PvP arenas, to be sure, but those are totally optional rather than necessary.

The game interaction is great, and the tutorial gives you pretty much all the information you need in order to make a good showing of yourself throughout the world.  Tons of hidden objects add depth, and the fact that there is literally TONS of voice-over clips, for each and every person you encounter, is phenomenal.  All in all, a lot of work has been put into this game, and it shows.

Now that the good is out of the way, let's get down to the bad.  As I've said, I have been playing this for less than a week, and it is Pay-For-Play.  The title ships with a code for a free 30 day trial, and then (at it's most expensive) it becomes $14.95 a month from then on.  I don't know how worth it that will be at the start.  I played WoW a lot when my account was active, and with a level cap of 60 it took me a long time to get to the end of what I would consider the 'solo play' aspect of that game.  "DC Universe" only has a current level cap of 30, and I am already pushing 14.  Less than a week, and doing a lot of exploring (read as not trying to level up quickly), and I'm already just shy of halfway to the level cap.  And they want $15 a month for this?  For what?  Yes, I am aware that there will be content releases, maybe even expansions down the road, but $15 a month right off the bat?  I'm on the fence.  Yes, you can play both good and evil, but there are only three storylines for each side (based on which mentor you choose to follow), and I already have a level 6 villain I'm working on as well.  Again, less than a week, folks.

Along with this, it must be said that the character creation aspect of the game leaves a lot to be desired.  I can understand what the limitations are on the PS3 (which is where I'm currently playing the game), but only being able to work with a colour palette of three choices?  That's so very limiting.  Yes, the three colour choices can be individually adjusted to make each one unique, but then being able to only apply those three shades to EVERYTHING you are wearing?  Yeah, it keeps the same scheme active throughout your wardrobe, but how much individuality can you really express when everyone is using the same primary and secondary colours for 95% of their choices?  Additionally, there is no way to really have your avatar sport a character-defining icon in a way that symbolically identifies you over others.  For example, Superman has a giant-ass 'S' on his chest.  Great, and I can have an 'S' too - a little tiny 'S' that gets lost in the detail of whatever chestpiece I am wearing, if in fact the piece I choose will even display the icon at all.  On top of that, I can't put that symbol anywhere else on my gear, like on the back of my cape or backpack.  Nope, tiny symbol, centre of chest if at all.  Good luck standing out in the crowd, unless you choose your colour scheme to be Day-Glo green or orange...then people will identify with you being the one that hurts their eyes, a great way to meet new friends online.

And that brings me to the ugly: No servers are joint PC and PS3.  In other words, in a household like mine where we have a PS3, a desktop computer and a laptop computer, the three of us who live here will NEVER be able to play online together in the same party unless we but either another computer or two more PS3s.  I, personally, think this is fu*king ridiculous.  If you are going to make a cross-platform MMORPG, why in the hell do you make it so that people in the same household can't even play together without buying more hardware than they need?  The company line is that it would make the game unfair due to some people having an advantage over others.  I do not know what the fu*k that means, not at all.  A headset for the PS3 is fairly cheap, as is a headset for a PC.  The PS3 can provide voice chat, Ventrilo provides voice chat.  The PS3 can map abilities to different buttons, and if the programmers did their jobs right the PC can do the same but be limited to the same number as the PS3.  So, exactly who has the advantage, and where is it?  No idea, but if I can't play with my wife and my roommate, then that's a really big drawback.

Overall, I like the game.  There is a lot of fun to be had here, but in it's current state I am not certain that paying to play it is viable.  Depending on when content is scheduled to be released, it may become worth it even before my trial is complete, but given that it takes a long time to develop new areas and new scenarios, I do not believe this will happen right around the corner.  It takes WoW about a year between expansions, and they've been doing this a while.  Oh, and for the record, this game has a buttload of potential, but in it's current version it is most definitely NOT a WoW killer.  I give it a solid 7 out of 10, subtracting a point for the low level cap, a point for not being able to play with my in-house homies, and a point for lacking customization in a title that really screams for it like no other.

One last thing:  Anyone interested can find me as Timbuctu on the 360, and Healthbane on the PS3.  Those are my overall gamer handles.  For "DC Universe," I'm found on the Relentless server as either Gutrend (hero) or CutieMcPretty (villain).  When I reinstate my WoW account, Gutrend is my main, a Skeletal Horde Tank, currently found on Kilrogg but changing realms whenever I get back to playing the title.  I have many other toons there as well, including Healthbane as a Horde Warlock, and Stalkress as an Alliance Rogue.

Until next time, gamerscore ho!

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