City of Heroes
Everyone likes to be a superhero from time to time, and several developers have used the theme for their games already. Think Freedom Force or the many known ones that were put in the form of a game. NCSoft comes with City of Heroes, a MMORPG where every gamer can create his or her superhero and fight evil. I got a trial that allowed me to play for only 2 weeks sadly, and to be honest: that’s way too short for a MMORPG that’s as fun as it looks.
When I was playing the beta at the beginning of this year, I was clustered to my screen for many hours. I was happy to hear we could review the game but disappointed that we would only get a 2-week trial. But since I wanted to check it out again, I was satisfied with this “arrangement”.
There isn’t a real storyline in City of Heroes; superheroes need to vanquish evil from the city. The city this time being Paragon City, and the superheroes are all played by real people, something you can expect from a MMORPG. The bad-guys are all AI-controlled, if you hoped to be bad, I have to disappoint you and you’ll have to wait for the expansion City of Villains.
City of Heroes is quite different from the standard MMORPG in that sense that it isn’t very complicated. After having made a unique superhero (there are millions of combinations) you get a decent tutorial where everything gets explained. As good guy you need to make sure all the city’s problems disappear and this can be done by wandering around and help screaming ladies and gentlemen or requesting missions. These vary from clearing a warehouse to searching stolen artefacts. After a while they get quite repetitive, and the rooms in the buildings all look alike.
In a fight with a villain you can attack with the ‘attack’ button or press the numeric hotkey. I was always running and jumping like a madman while bashing my mouse, waiting for that one attack to be fully loaded and I could strike again. Next to that you also need to make sure your energy bar doesn’t go empty. The fights are quite intense and also hectic, especially when working in a team. You can work together with up to 7 other superheroes or set up a supergroup that allows over 8 players. The team fights are the most fun as with a balanced group with different classes, you’ll get most success.
So, there are different classes that each have their own abilities. The Blaster uses long distance attacks, while the Scrapper and Tanker are better for close combat. The Defender needs to make sure the rest of the team doesn’t die by healing them while the Controller can confuse opponents so that they’ll attack their own friends. Next to that you also have to make a choice between Science, Mutant, Natural, Technological or Magical, each having seperate attacks. By making your hero you can only choose the base attacks, but with each level increase you get to pick a new, more advanced, one.
You can use different items to help you win fights. There are the so-called enhancements that permanently improve your attack with range, force, etc… next to that there are also items that help you in the heat of battle, like items that replenish your health, energy, temporarily improve your strength, … these you’ll find after beating an opponent or in one of the many shops where you can buy them.
The graphics aren’t really great. There are many possibilities to adjust your superhero but the average pedestrians all look alike, just like your enemies. The outside world has parks, busy streets and abandoned alleys so there’s enough variation there. Once you enter a building though, you’ve seen it all before. The world is big enough to get lost in, but unfortunately, there aren’t enough players to fill it. There will most definitely be moment that you’ll feel lonely because you don’t meet any other players. Therefore, it’s most wise to play in a team.
City of Heroes is certainly a fun game although not enough people seem to notice seeing the small amount of players. Unfortunately I only got a trial version of 2 weeks that made it hard for me to test everything extensively. NCSoft regularly releases community updates with new possibilities, it’s always nice to see a dev think of their community.