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