PS3 gamers can go 'full super'
DC Universe Online PS3 (also on PC)
Developed by SOE
Reviewed by Matt Adcock
DC Universe™ Online is an action MMO (massively multiplayer online game ) that thrusts players into a high-stakes scenario where they fight alongside – or against - some of the most iconic super heroes and villains of all time. And for gamers wanting to slip on some tights and cape – the good news is that this is the first MMO to hit the PS3 and that it has been totally created to work with a Dualshock joypad rather than a keyboard / mouse combo.
"Power Girl - standing for truth, decency and skimpy outfits!"
So is it any good? Can it stand up to established ‘superhero MMOs’ such as City of Heroes which hit PCs in 2004 and Champions Online which is a couple of years old now?
Well - behind the scenes you can tell that Sony and DC Comics have obviously been putting in a huge amount of effort into making this the most authentic super hero gaming experience possible. The challenge was always going to be making a game true to the DC Comics canon, yet one which enables thousands of new heroes and villains to simultaneously appear overnight and stuck in to an over-arching plot!?. This challenge has been met by legendary comic book artist Jim Lee who serves as the game’s executive creative director, backed up by renowned DC writer Geoff Johns who has crafted the story. Additional support is being added by comics genius Marv Wolfman who is responsible for in game quests and events. The DC Universe Online team are the real comic book deal and boy does it show.
"Wonder Woman takes no prisoners"
The plot – brings a truly epic storyline where Lex Luthor appears from the future and calls civilians around the world to action to fight against Superman’s foe Brainiac, whose robot drones are attacking and threatening to overrun the Earth. Luthor’s plan to help fight the menace is to convert civilians into superhumans – this is where you come in - giving players the chance to step up as a customised hero or a villain.
So the scene is set for newly superpowered forces to meet the most iconic DC Universe characters – and whether good or evil - try to save the planet. Inventing your own hero / villain will mean close involvement of the established DC Super Heroes and Super-Villains and means you are in regular contact with characters from across the comic book spectrum.
DC Universe™ Online stands head and plasma powered shoulderpads over the other super hero games out there as is alone allows players to create their own unique superpowered character – a valiant hero or devious villain worthy of the DC pantheon. While you may not be slipping on the cape or cowl of Superman or Batman (although you can play as these characters in legend arenas), players are able to create characters credible enough to fight alongside them. It really makes you feel like you are part of the DC Universe. You can fight the good fight – or use the chaos that has engulfed the world to your advantage if you’ve chosen to be a villain – and evolve and grow your character into one of the legends in the DC Universe.
"The 'super' review kit"
But what if you’re a MMO virgin and think that World of Warcraft players are the dweebiest of the dweebs? DC Universe Online might just change your mind (not about WOW players but about MMOs). From the second you’re done picking your powers, outfit and weapons you can potentially be soaring across the skies of Metropolis or ambushing scumbags on the mean streets of Gotham City. And there’s so much to look forward to as the game grows, an alert in Smallville has just been announced which will see you visit Superman’s homestead and face off against Doomsday!?
For a pick up and play game (which is essential to win the hearts of console gamers who might never have considered an MMO – that comes with e monthly subscription fee to keep playing) DC Universe Online literally kicks the ass of both City of Heroes / Villains and Champions Online. Character creation is a breeze – but nicely extensive in the range of options so that even after these first two weeks of playing this I’ve yet to spot a single two identical heroes. The choice of powers and weapons is decent – and gets better once you get in game as each has a vast branching network of upgrade options that can see two heroes with the same core powers wielding wilding different attacks and style so play in action… You also get to choose a classic super hero / villain mentors (Batman, Superman or Wonderwoman for goodies, Lex Luthor, The Joker and the goddess Circe if you're a wrong-un). This is a clever ploy as you get to build up a rapport with your chosen mentor – as they in turn begin to entrust you with harder and more meaningful missions.
"Go with a smile..."
DC Universe Online is an absolute super powered blast! Coming out in a packed gaming schedule which has seen Mass Effect 2, LittleBigPlanet 2, Dead Space 2 and Two Worlds 2 (lots of quality ‘2’s) you might think it would struggle to find players but since I put the DCUO disk in my PS3 I haven’t wanted to play anything else!
The gameplay is designed so that you can level up without having to ‘grind’ i.e. go around killing thousands of low level creatures to bag the xp points which you do in most MMO games. Progression here is all about missions, most are combat heavy but that is where DC Universe shines brightest – every battle is fun face off, never tedious – especially as you can have differing load outs so that you’ll forever be trying new powers, techniques and even weapons. The controls are excellent, simple but allowing for a good range of strategies - Square and Triangle buttons on the PS3 gamepad control your main melee and ranged attacks – the L2 and R2 triggers hot key them to use superpowers… simple but very very effective. There are some great extended elements too - I won a special combat trinket hammer from the evil Harlequin from the linked DCUO Facebook quiz , a simple entering of the code on the PS3 and I’m now packing a weapon that few players who haven’t found the Facebook quiz have!
DC Universe is the first game that I will happily paying a monthly fee for and Sony Online Entertainment has hit a major home run – addictive combat and levelling up, masses of cool and unique loot to find or win, new alerts that pop up which can be tackled with friends or on your own, vaults where you can find goodies, open-world PvP (player vs player) events which see you testing yourself… This is the real deal and it is megaton!
Players can also choose between playing on a PvP server – where there could be an enemy human controlled hero or villain around any corner just waiting to get into a scrap with you… or a PvE server which will prevent any human interference and leave you happily just motoring through the game without going toe-to-toe with others.
From the gorgeous opening cinematic mini movie – you unlock more superb short films after each major mission – you’ll be sucked in to the greater plot but also captured by the sheer range of quests, exploration and sheer comic book backstory joy. The graphics are what make DC Universe Online a must buy for PS3 gamers - and it is the difference between playing on a big screen HD TV and a standard computer monitor is the 'wow' factor that should keep fans coming back to the console version.
You may have heard that there are bugs and freezing issues, and sure I’ve had a few but since the last patch the game has been lively, virtually lag free and much more stable. And this continued improvement is part of the quality that Sony are bringing to the super powered party… DC Universe Online will evolve, grow, change and keep adding massive new gameplay elements and story arcs – it might just be the last game you’ll ever need to buy!
"There's some scary stuff on the streets of Gotham"
DC Universe Online is a comic book loving gamers dream come true. Xbox 360 owners need to petition Microsoft for something similar as they are seriously missing out! I haven’t been so addicted to a game for years – the ‘just one more mission’ factor is killer. I plan to re-review this game in 6 months to update on what has changed, where the writers have taken the story and what cool new places I’ve visited. Now I’ve got to go as I have had a distress call from the moon which requires PLAYthing’s attention – oh and Batman is after me because I beat the crap out of Robin last night (who hasn’t wanted to do that!?)
Then again – I’m also planning my first ‘hero’ character so if you need a co-op boost online – find me my PSN name is Cleric20.
Out of a potential 5 you have to go with a Darkmatters:
(5 - Comic book action has never been so much fun, highly recommended)...
Read more about DC Universe Online here
"Dressing up as the characters is entirely optional"