DC Universe Online – Looking Good

Aside from MMOs my other great passion has always been comic books (DC, Marvel, indie, you name it) and although you would’ve thought comic based MMOs were my ultimate fantasy I’ve always actually been rather skeptical of them. I played City of Heroes and Champions Online when they first came out but never thought much of them (even though by all accounts CoX has shaped up into a fun game) and for some reason I’ve just always had an inherent dislike to the mixing of the two together as I never felt that the core concepts of what would make a good comic book video game could exist in the MMO genre. Simply put, comic book MMOs plain don’t work.

However, after reading more and more about DCU Online I’m starting to become somewhat hopeful about it. Will this be the game that proves me wrong and shows that comics and MMOs work well together? That still remains to be seen and it’s definitely early days yet but SOE seem to be making some very sensible and appealing decisions. Releasing the game on the PS3 (let’s hope it still makes it out for it) shows that the game is going to be more action orientated than the usual 1-2-3 keyboard click affair that exists in most MMOs. This was one of my biggest gripes about comic books MMOs and how the over-the-top sense of grandiose and uber-power required for superheroes can’t be found in the MMORPG gameplay model. Furthermore, SOE have also employed a voice cast that has real connections to the source material. Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamil from Batman: The Animated Series in the early 90s, Adam Baldwin who played Superman in the 2007 Superman/Doomsday cartoon and James Marsters (Brainiac from Smallville) all show that SOE is willing to stick to fan-favourite decisions in the name of the greater good.

And then there’s the new cinematic trailer. Now I know that these things say diddly squat about gameplay and that all trailers make games look good but I have to say that I’m especially impressed by the DCU Online one. Not just because it’s cool and well made but more so because it really embodies the feel of the comic books and presents a very strong, mature world. The trailer means business and presents a comic universe in which the heroes aren’t afraid to man up and take the kid gloves off. Plus it gets bonus points for giving us a well pissed off Superman.

In addition the set up of the game world from the trailer is excellent. I never cared for the idea that superheroes were common as muck and existed everywhere because the entire point of being one is that you’re special (and I don’t mean special in a short bus kinda way). SOE’s solution is as elegant as I’ve seen and fits in nicely with the overarching story of working alongside either the heroes or villains to stop Brainiac. To put it briefly, this is a virtual world that I want to play in and that’s good stuff.

Of course, I’m still not completely over my cynicism towards comic book MMOs but I am starting to get warm fuzzy feelings towards DCU Online and that’s certainly a good sign.

-Gordon

P.S. My one gripe about the trailer – Batman getting beaten like a pinata by Deathstroke? Not bloody likely.

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19 Comments

  1. If only they had some sort of object that could force someone to tell the truth at the very end when Batman questions the veracity of Luthor’s plea….

    It’s a fun trailer, but it couldn’t wash away the awful feeling I got watching the actual gameplay footage. Expectations still very low at the moment. So far nothing I’ve seen from DCUO has elicited a pre-order or even purchase day-of. I look forward to seeing some beta responses and, of course, would love to have my expectations proven wrong.

  2. Amuntoth says:

    After me and my wife watched that we decided that we didn’t WANT to play the game, instead we just wanted to watch that MOVIE. That would be amazing, what with Superman trying to kill Luthor and the Kryptonite and just…wow..

  3. Jeff Martin says:

    Well I have had quite a bit of hands on time with the game, and Like Gordon I see Superhero games as a massive failure waiting to happen; CoX had some glimmers of fun like 3rd collum goons hunting you down after you discovered their plans, but no “zingo”..at least for me. CO was and is a Train wreck.

    But DCUO….it’s insanely addictive to play and you don’t feel like you are grinding through a mmo, you feel like…well a DC superhero, now that wil anger a lot of MMO gamers, because despite what they tell you they want their formula, and spreadsheet and the fastest path to the cheese. But Comic book fans…I think they are going to dig it.

    SOE is making a ballsy move releasing in NOV against a probable Cataclysm launch, but…they are confident…a lot more confident than I have seen them since EQ: RoK was released.

    Time will tell I guess.

  4. My superhero game of choice was (is?) CoV – playing a supervillain is just so damn awesome.

    But any story that has Lex Luthor winning, then undoing that for the good of mankind – well, that’s pretty cool. Reminds me of the fantastic Justice League episode “Hereafter.”

    But seriously – until this CG video, DCUO wasn’t on my radar. And it’s still very, very low.

  5. amcl says:

    Let’s hope they make the right design choice and release it for Mac too ;)

  6. Scarybooster says:

    I am waiting for some good concrete words on this MMO. I did get a hint from a Dev, it is best played on the PC with a controller. I’m thinking Marvel Ultimate Alliance feeling with an MMO setting. I hope it is better than CO

  7. Michal (Mic) says:

    “Batman getting beaten like a pinata by Deathstroke?” That actually was my favorite comic relief part and I laughed aloud like “WTF is that?? What are you gonna do, bruise him to death?!” Hilarious. And yes, it’s time for a pissed off Superman to burn someone down with his laser beam eyes. I like that this game has a very “gritty” vibe and none of this “Let’s pull our punches while we work to create an avalanche of snow to temporarily bury the baddies so we can get away” Yeah, no, Superman killed Adam DEAD. I quite enjoyed that :)

  8. Bhagpuss says:

    I share both your interest in comics and your disinterest in superhero MMOs. I betaed CoH and it was an interesting variation on the MMO theme at the time, but not interesting enough for me to buy it when it came out or any time since.

    Not being a gamer, MMOs are the exceptional game type that interests me, along with point-and-click adventures and traditional CRPGs. I like the long-established MMO/DIKU-MUD style gameplay and I fairly strongly dislike anything “action” oriented. But…

    I’ve been a huge DC fan for almost 50 years. Being in that world is an opportunity that just can’t be ignored. I’m signed up for the beta and checking every day to see if a start date has been announced. I just hope SoE (still my favorite developer despite their best attempts to shake me off) don’t manage to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in their trademark style yet again.

    • Gordon says:

      I’m with you on the SOE love. Even though they keep managing to put their foot in it, I still love them so :) I hope DCU is decent and not released too early (that seems to be SOEs biggest fault really).

  9. I’ve been playing this game since it went Free-To-Play… is it worth the subscription? Maybe but it is definitely worth FREE! If you haven’t played it then I strongly suggest you try it. You will not lose anything because it’s Free-To-Play… DC Universe Online is one of the best Free-To-Play MMOs today!

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