|a game by||Cryptic Studios, Perpetual Entertainment|
|User Rating:||8.0/10 - 1 vote|
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Tarmac Joy games in which I can witness an NPC utter the words "Thank God!
I feel much safer now that Bea Arthur's Ghost is here!" Champions Online, and maybe the next Tomb Raider, that's about it. But it's a fine example of the sort of attention to the small details that the team at Cryptic Studios has paid with its second blast at the superhero MMO genre.
Whether it's NPCs praising your prowess as you fly past, mission text and elements filled with humorous references to modern pop culture (including nearly the entire cast of Lost), letting players send Twitter messages and updates from within the game, or the ability to choose the colour of your energy bolts and whether they fire from your head, palm or tits, Cryptic have not so much gone to town by filling Champions Online with any idea it can think of, as taken a degree in advanced town planning, built every road themselves, and then shagged every fertile woman they could find to populate the locale. You literally cannot move more than a few feet in Champions Online without seeing some testament to creative, blue-sky game feature development.
The only problem is that somewhere along the line, they appear to have forgotten to put any work into creating the actual game to tie it all together.
Champions' biggest problem is that is lacks any sense of depth. It's one of the most surface-y MMOs I've ever played. Whereas most of these virtual worlds try to offer some sense of progression choice for your characters, in Champions Online, no matter what type of hero emerges from the much talked about (and rightly lauded) character creation system, you're going to be doing exactly the same things, in exactly the same ways, each and every time. This goes right down to the over-long and unskippable tutorial zone that, while fine first time round, is a massive pain in the utility belt by your third and fourth time through. This has the unfortunate side-effect of putting you off using the impressive character creator, as you know the pain you'll eventually have to go through once you're done with it.
The basic combat mechanic, the skill or level progression paths, the mission arcs - attempt them with more than one character and you rapidly discover you're not so much exploring a world of superheroes, as working your way through an identical checklist of generic MMO goals each time. Other than the surface visuals, nothing about Champions Online's structure suggests that it started out as a superhero game for multiple players, instead coming across as a completely standard MMO template hiding underneath a glossy superhero paint job. There are precious few moments when you ever feel like you're being given a classic comic book experience. Seriously, when have you ever heard of superheroes buying new powers in a shop?
Annoyingly, Champions Online offers many glimpses of actual fun, notably when powering through the grind With a bunch of friends (although that can be said of any multiplayer experience).
If you look past all the complaints about it not being a superhero MMO and accept it for just being a colourful, basic blast-heavy combat environment, you can have a nice enough time. But be warned, that novelty is going to wear off rapidly once you reach the late teens, and realise you're in for a seriously grind-heavy experience with no hint of any high-end game that offers a goal to reach for.
And the ideas do show promise that there's a better game in here somewhere. Removing the notion of kill-stealing, eliminating spawn camps, encouraging players to just jump into someone else's fight with no penalty to either participant is a stroke of genius.
But it's hard to see that underlying structure of the game changing at all though, so unless you read about some serious patching a few months down the line on Cryptic's message boards, the best advice we can give for those tempted to try Champions Online is to treat it as a diversion until we've seen if DC Universe Online can offer better and more substantial superheroic thrills, or just stick with City of Heroes.
Download Champions Online
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP