Ripper takes a good long look at Sony Online Entertainment’s DC Universe Online and reviews it in this article, after the jump! Take note that this article was delayed due to the PSN downtime.
The Way The Universe (For Me) Began:
I have a good gaming buddy who was trying to pick the next best thing to play on the PS3 and asked me my opinion of DC Universe Online. I told him how I had heard from a few different gaming friends that they were planning to play it and that I would probably be picking it up myself. It looked really good and it had been a while since I had put my PS3 through a good workout. It was kind of falling into the background due to titles I was covering for other systems and I really liked the idea of playing a hero based in the DC universe, especially since DC spawned my favorite comic-verse of all time, Vertigo. So time passed, the title came out and none of my friends except my gaming buddy had picked up the game. I told him I would at least pick it up when I got a chance so he wasn’t playing alone. He didn’t mind playing alone too bad because he said it turned out to be an absolutely amazing game with so many player build options that he just kept making new ones. This really struck me since I play a very well know MMORPG when I am not consumed in reviews and one of it’s big selling points was build possibilities. So I went to check to see who we had review it for the site when it came out and lo and behold this one had slipped through the cracks. So I got hold of my editor, he got hold of a copy and I sat down with the plan to put some time aside for several days to give it a thorough run. I made my account, I updated it then when I went to log in… no connection. I tried again, then again, then looked things up and found the message “down for maintenance.” I thought well that will be maybe a day, two at the most. So began the PSN hack nightmare.
Finally Getting My Tights:
I could hash out the whole mess of the PSN nightmare but most of you have already heard me talk about it or seen a letter printed on our site and guess who got it?(If you are pointing at me you are correct sir, ma’am or miss!) So flogging an already well beat horse who probably feels just this side of the glue factory really doesn’t sound like much fun to me. So I will progress to the day I tried to log in and much to my amazement I got through! I was getting to play! I scrambled for my manual (which I looked at for about a minute) to see what I needed to do to get going and then just dove in.
The game breaks down into the standard classes for the most part: DPS, Tank and Heals but how you do each of these is actually remarkably diverse. You have multiple choices of faction, race, hero mentor (kinda a big brother system with Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman as your choices), movement modes, powers and weapons which will all very heavily shape your hero and your abilities with it. I’ll go over each a little so you can get a general idea of how diverse everyone’s characters can be.
This one is pretty straight forward but will shape all your play and missions for the rest of the game. Hero or Villain? Whatever you choose you will not only fight for their cause but you will find yourself fighting the other faction so make sure you are willing to commit to it!
This mostly just gives your character a look unless you find yourself roleplaying your character.
Based on whether you are a Hero or a Villian you have three choices of who to have as your super mentor, and whoever you choose you will follow their power paths.
The will decide how you move through the game, fast (like the Flash), acrobatic (like Spiderman or Batman) or flying (like Superman). This affects everything from how you fight to how you cross the city.
Working somewhat hand in hand with your Mentor abilities, this decides what accentuates your attack: fire, ice, mental, nature, sorcery, gadgets (like Batman).
Choosing from everything from swords to hand blasts, the weapon is chosen to fit the type of tank, melee or healer you will want to be.
All these things combine to determine what kind of character you have. Add to it customizing armor and colors and you can have a very unique and diverse character.
Everyone Loves A Sandbox:
You have the opportunity to take or not take any quests you like. Maybe you think running around acrobatic style is fun, go ahead and do it for an hour. Nothing is stopping you, this game is definitely set up sandbox style, though remember that much like in real life, the bigger kids will knock you down if you get in their part. It’s fun running around all over until you get the repair bill.
You Are The Hero (Just Like Everyone Else):
Like truly successful MMO games are prone to do, the game makes you feel like it is your duty to help the big heroes save the day and this game pushes it even farther because you don’t just want to be a hero. you want to be a super hero. The questing all supports this idea and helps level you up to take on greater enemies. Some grinding can be done, particularly at lower levels, but it can be even more slow and tedious than usual and in the end you wind up in inferior gear for your level. Leveling along with the quest lines tends to keep your gear on track.
Like All Good MMOs:
Here I will just shorten things up by saying in just about every other way DC Universe Online is like all the other successful MMOs. There are different levels of gear, there are end-game dungeons and raids, there are co-op PvE missions and PvP missions and arenas, all to give the player the most dynamic MMO experience possible.
Wait? I Could Have Paid What?:
One of the keys to the game is how you are getting a full MMO experience on a console. That was the thing I left out above, all those comparisons above were compared to PC MMOs and this one was built in a way that could be successful and breath new life into the PS3 which has on occasion had title shock. But like many successful PC MMOs they chose to have a subscription rate to sustain it which would make sense if they were on a platform with guaranteed successful staying power and it was comparable to a PC subscription rate. I thought maybe this was the case, the monthly rate is very comparable to another very popular MMO but then I compared it to it’s PC counterpart. DCUO on the PC has a lifetime membership option, on a platform that has been around for decades. compared to a two year maximum subscription for the PS3 version which is only slightly less expensive on a platform that will be supported…who knows? So if you went with the safer bet for the game platform you actually got the better deal. Combine that with the fact that the PS3 version is sometimes more prone to crashes when an update comes out and those who chose the PS3 might be getting nervous they got a raw deal. Then we have the PSN nightmare.
The PSN PR Nightmare:
Once again I won’t go hashing out details and quotes, point out timelines and system versions, if you really want to know what happened it appears to be mostly public record now. The real point is PSN got hacked and everyone knows that much if not another detail. There are actually plenty I imagine who don’t know the details or care because when it comes to our money, we base our choices on trust. There are people I know who stopped playing the PS3 all together when it happened and said they would never play again. Others said they would never use anything but a pre-paid card for the network again if that. The only reason I bring this up is because of server population. For a game like DCUO to survive on the PS3 people have to feel safe paying to play it or they won’t pay. It was smart to release a DLC pack for free to try to get players back, it was smart to offer a free month and it was smart to offer free games. People will come back for a little while for these things, but it will probably be far longer before they have faith in they payment system or account system again. I think they should have maybe given six months of free play, that way people would have become comfortable again then maybe drop another DLC pack right before subscriptions run out like they did this time. Time tends to heal wounds and people would be more likely to trust it.
I thoroughly enjoy playing it, I have even picked up a Visa Gift Card so that I can play it some more. I am a huge fan of Swamp Thing and all things DC/Vertigo and I think they did an excellent job not just porting an MMO to a console but actually building one that feels natural that way. I have spent hours jumping from roof top to roof top leaping down from above onto my enemies and tearing them to ribbons. Even with the instabilities the game is amazing and a lot of fun. I am even tempted to buy my gaming buddy a Visa Gift Card so he can play along side me, start our own little league and fight our way through to higher levels and try to get into raids. I really want to try to do this all soon because one other game service has discontinued it’s support of the PS3 platform, and maybe I am better off that I didn’t buy the lifetime subscription…