Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pierre reviews The DC Universe Online

Sometimes Pierre is hard at work on an animation project for a Canadian studio. Sometimes he is working on artwork for people like the recent horror story he worked on. Then sometimes, he is just playing games to relax. Today, Pierre tells us what he thinks about the DC Universe Online which he recently just started playing.

When DC Universe Online was first released, all the signs were pointing towards that it would be free to play before long. Heck even BEFORE it was released. For a MMORPG, there is no way that it had enough content for people to pay $15 a month. Also, the options to customize your character was limited at best.  As more details about the game leaked out, it soon became obvious that only extreme DC fans would pay $15 a month to play this game.

I know a few full time gamers (I used to say professional gamers,  but their lack of skill made me realise that although they were playing 80 hours a week,  most of them weren’t very good),  and for full time gamers,  they would go through DCUO’s content with multiple characters in 2 weeks,  maybe 3 weeks at most. Even casual gamers would take about one month to go through DCUO’s content. So how could Sony/DC expect people to pay $15 a month for DCUO??

If they had released new content on a regular basis,  maybe people would have stuck around,  but their first new content (War of the Light) was just released not that long ago.  There is no way that people would pay if there was just that little content added.

So since November 1st, DCUO has been free to play. And like many, I was curious about it. So I did download it to try it out. I downloaded both the PS3 and the PC version of the game. But I mostly played the PS3 version so far. Why both?? I prefer to play on PS3 nowadays, but none of my PS3 friends are playing DCUO, and I have a few friends who play or will play on the PC.

No, I did not download it November 1st, I waited 2 weeks. I did not really have the time to try it out. And I expected that a LOT of people would try it out that first week, and I was pretty sure that Sony would never be prepared for the rise in traffic that DCUO would get. And even more when two weeks later,  they still have a tough time adjusting themselves to all the new players that they have now. From what I read, it seems that they had 1 000 000 new players the first week they went free to play alone. I wonder how many more they got since then? And now, I am one of them new players. I don’t have much time to play, so I only played a few hours to get a feel of how the game works.

What I mostly did so far was play around with the character creator. In my book, the more options you have to customize your character, the better. DCUO is lacking a little in that department. It is somewhat limited and is missing some key elements.

I wanted to play as Batman, or Batman from Earth 53 or something, but that was not really an option. It seems that they went out of their way to try and prevent people to make their own Batman or Superman characters. But I will get back to that.

So I created the next best thing, Le Fantome (The Phantom in French).
And I made something that looks pretty close to the character.

Then I played around with the character creator and created Spider-man (either the 616 or the Ultimate version), Cyclops (his original costume and his “all new all different” one), Angel (at least 3 versions of his early costumes), the Punisher, Moon Knight, Colossus, Hawkeye, Storm Shadow, the Spectre, Invincible, and I have seen many Deadpool, Hulk, Iron-Man in the game,  and despite DC’s best efforts I have seen many Nightwing, Robin, Green Arrow, and Superman,  and others that I fail to mention. Somehow, it seems easier to make Marvel or other non-DC characters.

So after playing with the character creator,  I tried the game itself,  and it was fun. It is a game of button smashing, so if you guys expect a game with lots of strategy or with a deep story, you will be disappointed. But so far,  it is a fun action game. But I only played a few hours, so maybe later in the game things are different. We will see.

It is fun to visit Gotham or Metropolis and see Superman,  or to get a call from Oracle. If you are like me and miss the DCU already, you will get a kick of seeing them characters once more. And it is fun to fight the DCU villains like Brainiac, although early on what you see are actually his drones, but still you know that Brainiac is in there somewhere. ;)

The environments look nice, and it is fun to climb building or to jump from building to building. If you make yourself a Spider-man character, you will have lots of fun.

Lots of action! Sometimes,  it is overwhelming when you get caught into a crowd of henchmen. But you will not run out of bad guys to fight.

Not being able to play as Batman or Superman or any other DCU characters (unless you manage to create yourself a Nightwing645 with the character creator).

When I first heard about DCUO, not being able to play as a DCU character made NO SENSE. Why play DCUO then???  If you are going to play a generic character, why not play Champions or City of Heroes instead?? Why bother with DCUO then??

The argument is that it would be silly to have a 1000 Batman running around.
Really?? As opposed to Batman Inc?? Heck early on they go out of their way to introduce players to the multiverse and that there are infinite Earths. Why not allow players to play Batman from Earth 666 or something?? And if DC were worried that there would be too little diversity,   you already see a LOT of the same characters over and over. So you might as well see a lot of Batmen.
Although now they have added the Green Lantern, Red Lantern, and the Sinestro Corps that you can be a member of as far as I understand. So that is a step in the right direction.
  • How about adding other DCU factions that you could be a member of??
  • How about being able to play as a member of Checkmate?? Or the Darkstars??
  • Heck you could have a thousand of those and it would not matter.
  • Also, there are only 2 cities,  Gotham and Metropolis.

Did they really expect hardcore players to have enough of them 2 cities?? Even for a casual gamer that is not that much. You have to wonder what they were thinking. If they were adding one new city every month, Maybe that would make sense, but it took what, 6 months?? More??? For them to release their Green Lantern add-on.  Ouch! (And I don’t even think that it adds a new city. Or does it add Coast City?? I could not find any info about this.)

Sometimes you have to wait 10 minutes,  20 minutes,  as much as 45 minutes to play. It is not a problem at 3 AM,  But between 5 PM to 10 PM,  the waiting time can be long.

On the PS3 there are sound glitches - A lot. Too often,  I lose the sound completely,  or sometimes only a few sounds remain. It is not game breaker, but it can get annoying. Especially if Oracle gives you a call to explain to you your next mission and you can’t hear her. I hope they fix that soon.

Getting stuck in doorways - Sometimes, characters remain standing still right in the middle of a doorway blocking the way for everyone else. That can be annoying. There even was a time when one character was blocking one doorway, and two others blocked the other doorway trapping tree of us. Not fun when that happens.  I hope they manage to find a way to fix that soon too. And as far as I can tell, there is NO Daily Planet in Metropolis. I have no idea why this was omitted,  but that seems,  odd to me.  Although maybe it is there and I just did not see it yet??

So overall,  it is a fun action game that will allow you to do a lot of button smashing on the PS3 or a lot of mouse clicking on PC. I might pay $10 for the Green Lantern add0on at some point. I would love to play a member of the Sinestro Corp.

So if you pass by Gotham and see Le Fantome prowling on a rooftop, come by and say “Hi”. ;)

Until next time.
- Pierre

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