DC Universe Online: PC review (Hero)

  • Format: PC (version reviewed), PS3
  • Unleashed: Out Now
  • Publisher: SCEE
  • Developer: Sony Online Entertainment
  • Players: 1 (MMO)
  • Site: http://www.dcuniverseonline.com/

Extract from a diary delivered anonymously to extreme centre wing publication Critical Gamer:

Gotham. A city of depravity and filth where you’re more likely to see a rotting dog than a live one. A city where the citizens are as dirty as the unclean streets and criminal is the profession of choice. A city where sin is at home. For the longest time it was the chosen battleground for every costumed villain with a vendetta against Batman with little else in between. Citizens were bystanders, each nothing more than a potential hostage situation waiting to happen. Now with Brainiac’s invasion and the spread of power-giving Exobytes, the everyday filth of the city has the chance to be special.

The spread of the Exobytes fell further than one iconic Gothic city. In Metropolis, a city that hides a heart just as black as Gotham’s behind glass and shining paint; the battleground of Superman and Lex Luthor, and Wonder Woman and Circe, became the second proving ground for new heroes and villains. Bitten by an Exobyte an everyday target becomes an everyday super hero; commanding fire, ice, magic, or nature itself; and also becoming able to fly, climb buildings or move at super speed.

It’s hard to feel like one of the special chosen when there are so many falling into the roles of hero and villain. It’s harder still when the role of hero or villain means nothing more than taking orders and requests from those with no strength, or those who formally did and now are rooted in place by the sickening grip of NPCitis. Childhood ideals are stripped away and moments supposed to create that warm fuzzy feeling of usefulness become awkward moments of disbelief, as you are informed that Superman has sent you an e-mail.

The city is a big place. It never feels overcrowded, especially with the power to make everyone else invisible. Lurking alone in the shadows or perched on a building overlooking your next hunting ground is still possible – looking stylish for no one but yourself. It’s easier to keep the brooding look down in Gotham, where gangsters or cops will be your target; in Metropolis stylish is hard when fighting semi naked Amazonian women or mutant apes. Regardless of what you are hitting with your weapon of choice, even if your targets are already being hunted, contributing in some small way will still grant credit towards completion – removing frustration to a degree and leaning the world slightly towards being too easy.

Played a game once. It was called Crackdown. Orbs came out of enemies when they died, a fountain of different coloured circles to collect. There were other orbs static in the environment to find and collect as super cops leapt over buildings punching and shooting their way into airbrushed history. Whoever created this world probably played it as well, inexplicably scattered race markers and all.

To reach the current pinnacle of power can barely be called a feat. The glory is stolen by the level of difficulty. It is gained so simply and by so many that reaching that point feels almost too quick and too easy. Unless you’re late to the party and become the target for every top level fighter looking for an easy target to frustrate and annoy. There is encouragement to start over, to try the other side of the law perhaps, to do some annoying of your own; but if you do, you will quickly find that outside of iconic battles heroes and villains go through the same hoops, and experiencing both only confirms that they are just two sides of the same stain ridden coin.

For those sick of saving or killing the innocent, for those sick of listening to the pleas of ordinary people and iconic characters alike, for those bored of thinking up ways they would like to torture Booster Gold, there is little to do that doesn’t require waiting. Teaming up with others to tackle worldwide alerts, raids, battlegrounds meant for two, or to battle in stereotypical types of event between the heroic and villainous side all require queuing. Waiting in line to save or destroy the world – the superhero experience re-branded into the supermarket one.

Passive abilities are considered king on both sides of the law. Abilities that just happen, that require nothing from you. Laziness isn’t to blame, just the lack of short-cuts to activation. Going down the root of your chosen movement or power will result in no fewer than a dozen abilities, teasing you with possibilities and then beating you down by giving you only six slots. Perhaps it was on purpose to encourage using specific types of set ups across roles, or perhaps it was kept simple for those playing on the other field, the Gotham and Metropolis of another world, another format, that doesn’t even mix with this one.

Saving two rotting cities from alien invasion is over quicker than you will like. In the blink of an eye thousands are saved, ignoring the enemies that will be forever present in the streets of course. As you wander two cities filled with plenty of people just as special as you, boredom will set in. Without further challenges, without further enemies to challenge, the rotten cities will grow stale until the next update; and the new heroes and villains populating them will fade away. What remains in the meantime to occupy the person who has done everything has its own problems, and is at best plugging a steadily increasing leak in a dam waiting to burst.

The accumulated filth of all the semi-naked women and killer clowns will foam up about the potential victims wandering the streets, and all the citizens and NPCs will look up and shout “Save us!” and you’ll look down and whisper “Maybe later. I’m queuing for like three different things right now.”

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Written by Ian D

Misanthropic git. Dislikes: Most things. Likes: Obscure references.

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