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City of Heroes - PC - Review


Posted by: jkdmedia

Review Rating 8.4 Great
Your Score

Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games are as difficult to get into as it is to say.  Developers have continually focused on overly complicating features of gameplay to increase the already open-endedness of RPGs.  That is what makes City of Heroes the breath of fresh air needed for the genre.

The title gives away the general game concept.  You create your very own superhero - choosing everything from the kind of powers you have - to the color of your spandies.  It's important to spend time on your character's look, because you'll be seeing the same costume every time you enter.  There are no material changes that you can make to your character, and other than the purchase of weapons, what you see is what you get.  There are several flaws in character creation that can't go unnoticed.  First off, you will see cheap attempts of recreating DC and Marvel superheroes in game.  I recommend using that little thing we in the real world call creativity (it separates us from the accountants) in the design of your character.  If you are to recreate your favorite superhero, the absence of capes will fully annoy you.  Hopefully, capes will come later in game via patch in the near future.  Censorship is always a concern in MMORPGs as this genre is said to be somewhat family friendly.  Though your curses may translate to <bleeps>, hero names can be very inappropriate and don't do anything to help your gaming experience except to be looked at as immature. 

Besides the look of your character, choosing an archetype is of vital importance which includes blasters, which specialize in long-ranged combat; tankers, the big guys on campus with exceptional strength; controllers, that manipulate the actions of foes; scrappers, close-ranged hand-to-hand fighter; and defenders, healer of team allies.  Because it is relatively easy to direct yourself in the path you wish to go such as a flying ice man or a she-hulk with teleportation abilities, your character's archetype becomes the foundation to your characters progression.  Blasters make for a popular choice, but each is necessary in the formation of a "Super Group."  With the option of having many slots open for new characters, don't be afraid to create some truly interesting characters (even for no other purpose but to have me laugh at you in-game).  But you don't get MMORPGs just to cut out the Role Playing.  Building up your character's levels and skills becomes an obsession.  Experience comes from taking out the NPCs that roam in groups throughout the cities and doing missions for contacts who need your help. 

The baddies, unlike many RPGs, carry on with day-to-day life such as mugging, selling questionable material, disturbing the peace, or jaywalking.  Remember, there are no safe-havens for criminals!  Deciphering the difficulty of the enemies is especially important when strategizing your attack.  You will rarely find foes alone and if you mess with one member of the group, you mess with them all (thus disaffirming the old saying that there is no honor amongst thieves).  Typing NPCs don't make intelligent maneuvers when combat.  But rather than helplessly running in circles or standing their ground, your enemies will meet you head on or will run like little children when the odds are stacked up against them.  After a heated battle, your standard Damsel in Distress will thank you profusely.  Don't be afraid when you have the urge to offer them advice in a deep heroic tone (I am partial with, "Your welcome, little girl.  Remember, Superheroes need super education, so stay in school!"  Thumbs up). 

As enhancements are gained and found, old powers improve and new ones constantly change the way you play.  It is also important to use inspirations which act as potions to cure ailments or make you all that you can be.  When you first start playing, gaining levels is easy and noticeably so.  But things get dramatically harder around level 10 as missions increase in difficulty and there are more and more opportunities to become incapacitated.  The system is easy to understand but limited in the functionality.  You get your missions from contacts in various cities.  These missions send you all around, from high atop buildings to the dark sewers.  You can have many ongoing missions at once, and can complete them at any time (convenient, yes; realistic; no).  Oftentimes, you can simply call your sources as you gain trust to be assigned various missions or to call back upon completion.  I'd like to point out that in a city of heroes, person versus person combat has no home.  Not until the planned release of the expansion, City of Villians (who knew?), would that ever become a possibility.

Reliance on other players isn't as stressed in City of Heroes compared to other MMORPGs.  Though you can have a sidekick with a player at a lower level than you and creating a super group can be a cool way to unite a special blend of heroes and even a better way to gain experience, I consider other players to be a nuisance when I'm on the verge of locating enemies and other gamers have taken them out before me.  There is also a limited trading system and its importance is insignificant in the game.  It's not as community driven, simply put.

Graphically, City of Heroes brings a lot to the table.  The characters look very nice, the textures are fairly sophisticated, and the animated power effects are definitely the game's forte.  The scenery and maps look alright, but alone doesn't separate it from the pack.  There are no environmental changes nor interactivity.  In other words, if a big fight broke out between your foes and your allies, the end result wouldn't look like the crumbled city you would hope for.  The sound effects are nice and accurately portray the sound of gameplay.  However, every superhero is supposed to have their own musical number and was a major disappointment when playing in the heat of combat with nothing but the sounds of your foes collapsing on the ground.

City of Heroes is a nice title for anyone who wants to break into the MMORPG genre.  It's easy to get right into the game and will build invaluable play experience you can use when you kick it up a notch with another MMORPG.  Old pros of the genre won't find City of Heroes quite as exciting and probably should invest their time elsewhere if they are not that excited about the game.  It brings what it says it brings, a city of heroes.  Now, its up to you to take on the challenge.

Review Scoring Details for City of Heroes

Gameplay: 8.2
It's fairly simple to jump right in the game and start playing.  But it becomes noticeably harder to progress after a certain point to achieve the level needed for the movement-related power groups such as flying, teleportation, or leaping.  And after that, the incentive to stay on the course of level gaining diminishes significantly.

Graphics: 8.3
Everything is here that is supposed to be here.  Though environmental interactivity is lacking, the power effects definitely cause some widening of the eyes and even the characters look good.

Sound: 7.8
The sound is a mixed bag with an obvious lack of music backing the gameplay but impressive sound effects.

Difficulty: Medium

The AI is impressive.  You're enemies will be gunning for you until your end.  However, if they feel it is impossible to win, watch them run!  Each map contains enemies for various player levels.  But understand that lower level baddies mingle with the high level baddies regularly.

Concept: 9
City of Heroes takes a thrilling new path into a world we have wanted to live in.  Forget knights and gnomes; being a Superhero just doesn't get any cooler!

Multiplayer: 8

You'll meet hundreds of creative players around the world taken on the roles of their own superhero.  Though the groups and other features you can do with co-gamers is not bad, it plays an insignificant part in the greater goal of the game.

Overall: 8.4
Perfect for the starting gamer who wants an easy transition into the MMORPG world.  Though it might not excite the old fans of the genre, it still is a good idea to give this game a shot.

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