As a subscriber to Playstation Plus I got access to the DC Universe Online European Beta. This sounded interesting and the promo video had piqued my interest so I thought I’d give it a try. Now first up I’d like to point out I don’t tend to play many online RPG’s, the only ones I’ve really played are City of Heroes and Champions…. You may see a theme here, I like my super heroes and the idea of playing games with the.
I liked City of Heroes but the class and level systems annoyed me and I didn’t really know anyone who played it. I’d rather play a game with people I already know than try and make friends online, for some reason I’m just like that. Champions had a similar issue, the initial teething problems for what was a great game caused the player base to collapse. Plus of course both of those were using new or little know settings so people felt less of a connection. I had high hopes for the DC game… and when it actually comes out I may revisit it. But I’m going to detail here why I uninstalled it last night.
First issue is the fact the I’ve got an older PS3 and the HDD is getting a bit full so I have to be careful with large installs. But the DC Beta didn’t seem too large, super. Of course this was because the first thing it does it check then download any missing content… Oh well I thought it says it’s going to take 25 minutes, not a problem…. Wait a sec, that’s 25 hours. Cue one overnight download session.
So I finally got the game installed and last night gave it a shot. I had an idea for a character who had lived in a pre crisis world where Kal-el and his pet assassin the Bat ruled the world with an iron thumb. Because of this he couldn’t trust some of those on the ‘heroic’ side and was going to be a villain. Of course none of this mattered because the only thing I got the chose was a name. And my first choice ‘Shade’ wasn’t allowed because either it was invalid (IP issues perhaps?) or someone else had it.
Strike one right there. The whole idea of your character name having to be unique is insane, you’ve got an account that’s got a name and it’s unique. Why should your characters have unique names? Because it’ll confuse people? I know a ton of people called John and I don’t get confused. How will you contact people? In Champions every character has an address in the format character@account, that can be used in the in game instant messenger and chat… dead simple and easy to recognise.
This was not the first thing in the character gen that annoyed me though, that would be the graphics. I was wondering if perhaps someone had swapped my PS3 for a PS2 while I wasn’t looking… the resolution is not great, especially on a 37″ widescreen.
But I perservered through the character gen, whilst getting a bit annoyed that I was making a number of choices without being given much information. And I got ‘Nite Shade’ created and into the Brainiac hive ship.
This being the tutorial opening game thing, where you, by yourself, escape a hive ship. So much for multi player. Time for a slug fest I guess. Or maybe a button mash would be a better description. You start by learning basic combat square and triangle to hit things (ooo triangle does ranged attacks, shiny) L1 to target and R1 to block. Grand. Then you get to choose a super power and learn how those work. Well sort of… you learn that you can make super power attacks and then the recharge at some unspecified rate. At this point I was seriously missing Champions which I haven’t played for a few months.
In that combat is fast but tactical, plus it has one of my favourite abilities. When you target someone and turn on your basic attack it just keeps firing, if you’re not doing anything else and your opponent is close enough you hit them. Pow. In DC I was basically mashing buttons and trying to find out what the heck was going on.
Plus, despite being in the centre of a Brainiac hive ship, and being told by a shadowy chap that I was in danger of very real death, I at not point in the tutorial did I feel like I was going to lose. I wasn’t even totally sure what the bars in the top left of the screen did, I guessed the green was health? Maybe. Who knows, obviously Brainiac isn’t as tough as Superman makes out.
So eventually I found myself off the space ship, having beaten up lots of robots and met lex luthor (failed to get his autograph though sigh). And then ended up in a nghtclub…. at which point I stopped playing. The game had failed to grab me, it has made me debate playing Champions again in the new year. Hmmm.
If you’re a big DC fan you’re going to like it, you’ll be able to sit around dribbling over all the (not very pretty) renditions of the DC universe characters. Me… I’ll wait for Dragon Age 2 I think.