Monday, September 7, 2009

Champions Online Impressions

I have a very low resistance to games. Meaning, if I see a lot of people having a great time playing a game that I'm slightly interested, I'll pick it up just to try it. Such is the case with my latest purchase, Champions Online.

Now this game originally wasn't on my radar. I had tried City of Heroes, another super hero game created by Cryptic, and found it very lacking. It was like a Thanksgiving meal without the turkey and dressing. The little I had read on blogs from people who had been in the beta was that the game was not very fun and it was pretty broken. So if I was going to try the game it would be months down the line after getting way more feedback.

Then the game got released.

I started getting feedback on the game in a very interesting place, Twitter. A lot of those people I follow started tweeting about the game and the impressions were pretty positive. Apparently, Cryptic had decided, strangely enough, to fix a lot of the broken aspects of the game in beta, which isn't what successful game developers are suppose to do. As a result the game is much more polished, Sorry Darren, than expected. So, on a whim, I decided to pick up it up and a 2 month game card at Best Buy. This way, if I was bored in 3 months, it would be easy to quit.

The first thing that gave me hesitation that I might have been in haste purchasing the game was the fact that the installation gave me a few problems. The game got stuck on patching and crashed, so when I force closed the game, it wouldn't start up at all. This took me several minutes of internet investigation to find a fix, which I'm still not certain corrected the issue. All I do know is eventually the game, after a system reboot or two, started working again and patched. Then I was able to get into the game and start having fun.

The character creator is very robust. It's similar to the one in City of Heroes, just on crack. I mean, I've created three characters so far and I don't even think I have scratched the surface of the greatness the creator is capable of. I could spend hours just crafting new characters, sadly, they only give you 8 slots. I do wish there was a video tutorial or something similar to point out some of the more finer aspects of the creator, but I guess they wanted you to get your hands dirty and dive right in.

After several hours of crafting my toon, the game starts everyone off in a small tutorial area that teaches you how to block attacks, use your super powers, interact with objects, etc. Nothing too complicated and it gets you oriented to the look and feel of the world. Cryptic steals from every other MMO, including Warhammer's Public Quest system, although Cryptic's version isn't very exciting and I found myself not very interested in trying it more than once. which is odd cause I participated in the PQ's in WAR all the time. The quests aren't any different than any other MMO. Save the people, collect the items return and get your reward. Champions has a built in quest helper, which puts circles on your mini map letting you know these are the areas in which you need to get things done for quests. Again, it drags you around a bit by the nose, but I'm not against that sort of stuff. It doesn't feel odd like it did in WAR for some reason.

After playing around in the noobie area for a few hours, I still wasn't digging the game very much. I mean it was fun, but I found the interface and the movement very awkward. Course that could be my fault. When you get into the game, it asks how you want to set up your UI and controls. I set mine to MMO style, which I figured would be similar to WoW, but apparently I still had issues getting the camera right and getting my character moved into the right spot. But, I had read somewhere that you could use a console controller to play the game. So I dug out my wired Xbox 360 controller and got it working. I have to say, this improved the game for me 1000 percent. I never was a big fan of the concept of playing an MMO on a console, but after using my controller for a few hours now, I can finally get my head around that concept. Getting to things in my inventory, chatting and picking up certain quest items still requires a mouse and keyboard, which is kind of a pain, but overall I am having a fantastic experience using my controller with this game, and if you have one, I would recommend using it.

The game is gorgeous by the way. It has a certain style that is comic bookish and I'm sure people won't like it, but I think it adds a lot to the overall feel of the game. I do think they could have done more with the sound, because the back ground noise is very repetitive in certain areas and can tend to get on your nerves. The best part are the attack effects, spell and melee. I choose a dual swordsman for my first toon and the attack animation is just awesome. One of my attacks is a flying kick, which at times still doesn't work like its suppose too, but is still fun to watch. Kicking someone from halfway across the map is just a blast. Characters movement is very well done, even while flying or moving with super speed.

Oh, I guess I need to mention that little perk about the game.

When you reach level 5, you get to choose your traveling power, flying, super speed, teleportation, hover disc, etc. These will help you get around the map pretty easily and fast. It's akin to purchasing a mount in any other MMO, except you get it very early in the game. These traveling powers are fun, and you can attack with them active. I've seen people hovering or flying while taking on mobs, which is pretty cool to see. Course, like all powers, even your traveling ones, you can change the colored effect at will.

This is getting long so I'll wrap it up with some of the cooler aspects of the game.

All your character name's are tied to your account, so there is no naming restrictions, except for profanity, that I know of. So there can be more than one of any name in the game, so if someone chooses the same one as you, they can still have it because their account name will be different. Also, having your character name tied to your account makes it easier for people to find you while playing alts. They just add your account name to their friends list and any toon on that account automatically gets added to the list. Course, this makes it hard for you to hide from friends who are playing the game, but overall its a great addition and I wish more MMO's would follow suit.

Next time I'll mention some of the dislikes, but since currently I don't have a lot of them, it will be a very short post.

1 comment:

  1. The game isn't perfect, that's for sure, but I oddly find it infectious.

    I think it snuck up on a lot of us. I know I was aware of it for awhile and I figured I'd try it since I liked CoH.

    I hadn't counted on giggling like a schoolgirl while my character blasts mobs clear across a room, or when his rocketjets kick into full gear.

    The game still needs a lot of work. They definitely need a lot more quests so players have choices. It's so alt-centric but will I want to play through the exact same quests again and again?

    I hope Cryptic keeps up on it, because I'm having a blast so far.