Heroes and villains

DC lends its characters to the MMORPG in “DC Universe Online.”

by Tony Libera

âÄúDC Universe OnlineâÄù




Sony Online EntertainmentâÄôs âÄúDC Universe OnlineâÄù is the modern nerdâÄôs wet dream, a combination of two of their greatest passions: Superheroes and massively multiplayer online role-playing games. While the blend is nothing new, SOEâÄôs licensing of DCâÄôs characters and extended universe sets âÄúDCUOâÄù apart from competitors like the seasoned âÄúCity of Heroes,âÄù released back in 2004.

The story opens with a future version of Lex Luthor recounting his tale of woe to superheroes of the present. Having defeated Superman, Luthor was primed to take over Earth, but another villain, Braniac, stepped in, using stolen superpowers to create an army of metahumans. Luthor took the technology and traveled back through time, hoping that by creating more metahumans in the past he could stop Braniac from taking over Earth in the future.

This is where the player comes in and where decision becomes key to the game experience. Outright, âÄúDCUOâÄù offers an impressive amount of choice: To be good or evil, to follow under a particular famous mentor, to fly, to hurl fireballs, to wield different weapons, to be the person you dreamed of while running around in the backyard as a child. The sheer amount of customization pertaining to traits, styles and powers in âÄúDCUOâÄù is inviting for the demanding player, giving wholesale control when it comes to character design.

From this point on there are missions to be followed and battles to be fought, and in that regard âÄúDCUOâÄù is a lot like other MMORPGs, the difference being that youâÄôre fighting alongside Batman and Superman rather than elves and wizards. Unlike typical MMORPGs, âÄúDCUOâÄù offers simplified gameplay mechanics, which makes it easier to control on a console like the Playstation 3. For the most part, âÄúDCUOâÄù is more concerned with action than strategy, and this allows players to really show off their new heroesâÄô powers.

Playing PvE (player versus environment, or âÄúsolo,âÄù more or less) can get stale after a while, as certain missions adhere too tightly to the stock quests of countless RPGs past.

At their core, MMORPGs are social experiences, which means players need to get outside their safety zones and utilize PvP (player versus player) to get the full experience. PvP puts you in the center of the DC world, forcing you to do battle with other superhuman folk from around the world.

In its infancy, âÄúDCUOâÄù has a fair share of bugs âÄî it lags and itâÄôs frequently glitchy, especially if youâÄôre playing on a Playstation 3, but on the whole itâÄôs a worthwhile play for fans of the genre. The gameâÄôs biggest drawback is, of course, the subscription, which forces users to pay $15 a month to keep up their caped crusading.

As fun as it is to frolic around Gotham City and thwart enemies alongside DCâÄôs greatest characters, chances are that paying a recurring fee for a currently unpolished game will be too much hassle for anyone but the most avid of gamers.


3/4 Stars