Thursday, November 3, 2011

DC Universe Online Review

Here it is, the long awaited (by who I don't know) review of DC Universe Online. First of all, let me say that I am a casual gamer. I play on the weekends, having to hold down a job and take care of my family, and even then I only play for a few hours at a time, so please take what is below with a grain of salt if you are a hard-core, play every day type. Also, which I have been in instances/raids/etc, I general do not prefer that type of play. If possible, I will solo and maybe help out other players on missions. With that boilerplate out of the way, let's get on with it.


Character Creation

Creating your character is quite easy, but also in depth. You are able to pick from Male/Female and from 3 Body Types in 3 Sizes each (none of which has any bearing on the character other than looks). From there you can pick a Hero/Villain to be inspired by, which will give you a character with random powers and a costume based on that person, or you can go the custom route. I prefer the custom way, but then I was trying to create a specific character when I first played the game. You have a wide variety of powers, fighting styles and origins, so that you are able to get a very custom character. The same can be said of the costume choices. I had a costume in mind for Lupine (who has since been renamed to Lupine Prime when the servers merged), to match the one I own in real life, and I was able to get close enough that the differences don't really matter. You will also have a choice of which Mentor you want to follow. They are Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman on the Hero side & Lex Luthor, The Joker and Circe on the Villain side. Regardless of which mentor you choose, you will still have access to all the missions on that side, which is a little rough on replayability.

One thing I would like to see them add would be secret identities. While it's great to be super all the time, I would like to be able to duck into a phone booth (yeah, I still remember those) and change into a civilian. Maybe have some missions where that is necessary, or just remove your character's information from the map. There might even be a way that heroes/villains that know your SID could see that information but no one else can. For example, if Clark Kent were walking around the street and both Lex Luthor and Batman say him, Lex would see him as an NPC and Batman would see the same info as if he were in his Superman costume. Just something that popped into my head when I was doing the character creation for the first time.


Early Missions

I really like how they scale missions to match where you're supposed to be, level-wise. You also have options as to what you want to do when, so it is definitely non-linear after the first couple of missions. There is a decent amount of variety to them and it shows you how to do everything you'll need to in the game. The issue here is that you can do missions from every mentor, which means that all characters end up with the exact same experience. I would much rather triple the missions for each mentor and only allow a character to do the missions associated with their mentor, except for a few crossovers that would make sense or if another character shares the mission with you. That would give people more incentive to play different characters just to get the full number of missions.



The graphics are definitely up to snuff, especially if you look at it compared to World or Warcraft or Star Trek Online, both of which I have played. What makes this even more impressive is that it was designed to run on a console rather than a PC. The character models, both NPC's and Players, look clean and not very blocky. The emotes are nice, if limited, and do add to the game. One of the problems with the characters, though, is that if you interact with someone, they turn to face you but keep doing what they are doing. The Flash, for example, is busy typing something when you speak to him in Metropolis, but he keeps on typing when he turns to you. Just a little odd.

The backgrounds are exquisite, with lots of nice little touches that comic geeks will get a kick out of. They really planned out the cities of Metropolis and Gotham well, and that makes me sort of regret what I'm going to say next. I wish there were more cities out there to explore. Don't get me wrong, I love what they've done, but there's only so much of these two areas that I can take. I know, there are alerts, etc, but those aren't really meant for exploration (and I have other problems with them that I'll get into later on). I would REALLY like to see Star City, Coast City, Keystone/Central Cities, or just somewhere else.

One other issue that I have, and it's not like it detracts from anything, is that I have to play in 720p rather than full 1080p. It's probably due to internet connectivity and other technical issues, but I've got the TV that can handle it and I really would like the higher resolution. But that's just me.



I had a number of issues with the sound for the game, but that was a few months ago. It would cut out at times, so I could see Wonder Woman's lips moving but not hear anything. This seems to have been fixed and the sound is quite good. Both the music and the sound effects add to the game and give it some added flavor. It is a bit odd to hear conversations of people with microphones (I don't have one) when going past them, but it is part of the experience I suppose.



 They did their research, I'll give them that. The universe in this game has a whole lot of depth. There are characters all over the place, some of which you really have to search to find. Again, though, I would like to have a Secret ID available so I could go into a place like the Ace of Clubs, or the Lexcorp building and not attract attention (or, heck, just go into them period). The number of heroes and villains they crammed in here are great, but I would like to see more of the background players, like Bibbo, Jimmy Olsen, Harvey Bullock, etc.

The layouts of the cities, as I mentioned above, are great with lots of little achievements for finding certain iconic locales. The first time I found the Bat Signal in Gotham I definitely geeked out, and that just shows how much thought they put into the game and what's the players want. Although, I would like to see more things available, but that will probably be after the whole "Brainiac is attacking" thing runs its course, since the Daily Planet Building is currently bubbled and you can't get to it.


Later Missions

Being a casual player without a huge amount of time to play, I don't have much success with the end game missions. They are made to be done by groups, and I tend to solo everything. Even the PUG's I'm in for the alerts seem to be made up of people that take the game MUCH more seriously than I do, so there's not much here that I've enjoyed. I guess I won't be doing much of this stuff anytime soon, since I don't relish the idea of getting killed over and over, but I'll give it a shot now and then. It would be nice if these missions were scalable so that you don't need three or four people to get through it.

The major problem is that the missions I listed above are really the only ones out there. Sure, I could go and do the instances that I did before, only tougher, again but I really didn't get that huge a thrill out of it the first time. And, once those are done, then what? Oh, I can create another character and do all the same stuff over again. Thrilling.


Bottom Line

OK, here's the total of what I was saying above, and I'm not going to just give one rating, since the game's too complex for that. Just remember, this is only my experience so you might have a completely different take on it.

Initial Play = 4 out of 5
Replayability = 3 out of 5
End Game for Casual Players = 2 out of 5
End Game for Hard Core Players = ??? (I'm not one, so I don't know)

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