City of Heroes Review
By Simon Graves |
Paragon City is in trouble. And I was just the man to help... well, woman sometimes, but that's another story. It's been a month since City of Heroes was released to store shelves and I can firmly say that I still really like this game. That isn't to say that it doesn't need some improvements in certain areas, but what Cryptic has created here is nothing less than one of the most exciting MMOs that I've ever played with the coolest premise.
What is City of Heroes? It's a massively multiplayer game that lets players sink themselves into the role of a fledgling hero, just awakened to his or her powers in search of bringing justice to Paragon City, a place under assault from all sorts of nefarious people and creatures. There's a pretty large background story which you can find at the official site if you're interested. The basic gist is that players have to hit the streets, "arrest" some evil-doers, and increase their powers to take on the even worse baddies.
Like many MMOs are trying to do nowadays, City of Heroes tries to tie the story into the gameplay. And like many MMOs it does a mixed job of it and will require some reading, which I really don't mind even if some do. The story will unfold for each hero as they receive missions from various contacts who will unfold situations as well as clues found on these missions that will explain what is happening even more. As players progress in level, the story will move along different arcs leading to boss characters and more. It's really hard to institute a continuous and deep story in a game that has so many players moving through it at the same time. I do with there were some in game cutscenes for important parts of certain missions... but maybe that's too hard as well. Overall, considering the limitations of the genre, the story arcs can be interesting and will drive players on into new areas.
But before any hero's story can begin, they must be born. The character creation in City of Heroes is hands down the best I've ever seen for an MMO. Creating a costume for your character is not only fun, but addicting. I've literally spent hours creating costumes and looks for various types of characters. The best part is, while there are costumes that are similar in the game, I have yet to see any identical costumes, except from some people that had obviously planned it that way.
Picking powers and progression for the powers isn't as robust as Freedom Force, which had about as many options for super powers as there were for costumes in City of Heroes, but that's also understandable. But I would have liked to have seen at least some customization for color of powers and maybe effects for certain powers like flying based on powers you've picked during the game... but overall, it's an amazing system that I've enjoyed tremendously.
The graphics in general are also very good. Having played a bunch of the World of Warcraft beta, I do find myself wishing for a little more variety in terms of areas, such as suburbs, hillier areas, but the zones that are there are full of life and fun to run through. Later levels such as Founders Falls, Brickstown, and Eden are certainly do a good job of this and I hope the new levels added continue to mimic the attention paid to these beautiful zones.
The special effects are worth special mention as well. Not only are they brilliant and gaudy, but they drive the excitement of the battles. If the effects weren't this good, combat wouldn't be as interesting.
Once a character is created, the game provides a brief tutorial to get players accustomed to the controls as well as give the character enough experience to be granted their first increase in security level. Level increases reward players with new powers or enhancements slots for the items that can increase the effectiveness of powers.