Hey geeks.  There’s something unique about the desire to save the world with your astonishing personalized abilities.  So why is every superhero game so busted?

This is the second installment of my SuperHero MMORPG review.  There are three current games on the market (after the closure of fan favorite City of Heroes/Villains): Champions Online, DC Universe Online, and the upcoming Marvel Heroes.

Now up:

DCUO Logo

Customization

DC Universe online has a reputation.. “Sidekicks Online”.  The customization factor in this game is considerably weak.  Many costumes are locked behind gear, and the ones available to players are not very original.  If you desire to play as “Batkid” or “Super-Lass” this is the game for you.  The game itself gives you alot of options at creation to parrot the uniform of the existing DC heroes.

Powers in DC Universe Online are also less customizable than the previously reviewed Champions Online.  The system allows you to choose from two of 14 power sets.  The combat system is much more nuanced from there allowing players to choose their combat style and/or weapons.  If your desired powers are included, the concept is realized quite well.  If you desire to create a power-set you will find yourself disappointed.

Community

The DC Universe Online community is oddly conservative.  I think this is more thematic with the DC Comics IP.  Characters in DC Comics tend to be almost allegorical.  There is no surprise that fans of the stories follow type.  The problem comes when you realize we are not talking comic book morality, but internet morality.  As a gaymer I found the community tolerant but not accepting.

Further complicating the communal core of the game is the two factions.  Players can choose to be heroes or villains.  There is a real difference in the way the roleplayers of each faction tend to interact with one another.  I didn’t spend enough time in the game to truly get the nuances of each faction but one thing seemed clear, the villains tended to be much more adult in theme.

The game population is pretty healthy, but it is split between the server base for the consoles and the pc users.

The biggest take-away from DC Universe Online community for me was that they did NOT seem to be Comic Book geeks getting into games.. but rather Gamers who had a secondary love of comics.  This very distinct difference means that the desires of the community are based in game mechanics and they enjoy the action packed combat more than the typical MMO.

Lore

The DC Universe is VAST and well documented.  The game takes you primarily through Gotham City and Metropolis.  The two are rich in possibility and distinctly different.  Gotham is well known for its darker tone and feel while Metropolis gives the big city feel.  There are very few rural comic book stories so these scapes  offer enough to satisfy a superhero.  I must say, I felt spoiled by the maps like Canadian Tundra and the Southwestern Desert in Champions Online because they offer more than the  global superhero perspective without the juxtaposition of a city setting.

You do however find that the game takes the superhero genre much more seriously than what is found in Champions Online.  You find much fewer demonic, druid, or fantasy inspired character creations.  The lore is iconic and therefore respected by the players and game designers.  Warner Bros. keeps a tight reign on its licenses.  It is no surprise that the game truly does feel like a video game adaptation of the DC Comics universe.

Game Mechanics

Combat

The combat in DC Universe Online is a nuanced take on the action combat genre.  The powers cast are furt˙er complicated by the “weapon” system.  I have not played with it at a high enough level to really understand it.  It very much feels like a console action game.  Playstation Players will find it especially enticing compared to most MMORPG controls.

Powers

The biggest complaint for DCUO is that there simply is not enough customization and what powers they do have simply are “not enough”.  The game is much more about Damage casters than the usual trope of the MMO Trinity.  This makes one powerset blend usefulness with the others and the uniqueness of play-style is generally lost from set to set.

Summary

DC Universe does many things well, but nothing exceptional.  The character creator is average.  The combat is average.  The mission system is average.  This game is very much “the standard” game.  It simply doesn’t do anything exemplary.  While it is enough to sustain itself and the IP is exciting for comic book fans, it simply has nothing els truly unique about it.

Answer:
Busted

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