The lights are on
I want to love this game, I really do. But there are a lot of problems
with it that are simply inexcusable. Many people want to compare it to
the behemoth that is World of Warcraft, but such a comparison is
inherently flawed. A proper comparison would be DCUO versus 1st month
City of Heroes (COH) or 1st month Champions Online (CO).
Let's start with the good.
is excellent. People may want to say it's not as robust as COH or CO
was at launch, and they're somewhat right, but not in terms of the
costume choices. The critical difference between DCUO and COH/CO is that
all of the styles (except for veteran rewards) were available to you at
the start from COH/CO whereas you have to unlock styles through gear
acquisition in DCUO. Even after you've parted with a piece of gear, the
style remains and you can mix and match pieces and individually color
them within the color palate. Customization is certainly a strength. If,
however, you want to customize every single facet of your character,
meaning things like your face structure, or your female toon's bust
size.. well, you'll be disappointed. CoH and CO certainly wins on the
The story of why there are so
many new heroes, knowing that the DC Universe technically has thousands
of parallel universes makes great sense. The story arcs do a good job
making you feel like you're a hero or villain in the this particular
universe. However, I would be remiss if I did not point out that many of
the large arcs are completely linear, and you only ever return to quest
NPCs at the mid-way or end point. The exception to this are side-quests
which often make you return to the NPC for that specific side quest.
are the overwhelming "good" things about the game. There's one aspect
that is simultaneously good AND bad and since it does not fit neatly
into either category, it deserves its own listing: The combat system.
The combat system is refreshing - it's like playing God of War in a
persistent world - and it utilizes combinations of button holds and taps
to attack, block and perform special moves. The bad, however, is that
the game relies heavily on aim assist and often doesn't properly
register your input. It is very inconvenient to have to hold L1 to
target lock, but if you don't you might just attack an enemy across the
street, or a barrel next to an enemy trying to smash your face.
Additionally, many times I've tried blocking where the game simply
doesn't register it on a simple, blockable hit. While they achieved
their goal of preventing the repetition of another plant-and-cast MMO,
they seem to have overlooked the fact that hitting the same combos, over
and over, for 30 levels and end game, is JUST as repetitive.
Now for the bad:
the game is terrible on PS3. I have never had a game on the console
chug to keep up as much as this one and, while I expect that in large
player populated areas, it happens even in secluded corners of Gotham
and Metropolis. Texture pop in is horrible on static models which
doesn't come as too much of a shock because the game uses Unreal Engine 3
which is prone to frame drops and texture problems when not properly
optimized. There's nothing quite as disappointing as being point blank
with a building and waiting for the texture to show up. The more people
you get in one area, the worse the graphical problems get. While a
problem like this can be addressed on PC by upgrading components to
handle the increased graphics, no such remedy exists for PS3 so the onus
was on the developers to optimize the graphics and code to prevent such
problems. It feels like they didn't even try.
The cities might look
pretty but they're smaller than they appear. By utilizing crafty,
distanced 2D art with distanced lighting makes the cities look large but
are actually pretty small and repetitive, and unlike other MMOs,
they're the only two active zones you have (the Watchtower and Hall of
Doom are just staging zones). One of my biggest complaints about City of
Heroes at launch was that there was only two zones we started in -
Galaxy City and Atlas Park. However, once you reached a certain level,
you left these zones for others. In DCUO, you start in either Metropolis
or Gotham, regardless of whether you're a hero or a villain, and you
stay, exclusively, in these two cities. They get boring fast.
voice acting is absolutely terrible. While some people may be glad they
don't have to read quest logs, I find myself reading them and ignoring
the terrible voice over work. To give an example, Wonder Woman sounds
like Annie the Chicken Queen, the woman Popeye's uses for their fast food ads. Yeah, it's that bad.
game, itself, doesn't help newer users to understand the roles
available to them. At level 10, every character becomes a hybrid. Either
you're healer-dps, tank-dps, or controller-dps. But the game does not
properly explain how to switch stances into your various roles, or get
into the nuts and bolts about the team dynamic of each role. Instead, if
you want to learn these things, you have to go to the official game
site and read the myriad of game guides they posted. Why? These are very
critical functions of an MMO, and players should be gradually educated
into these roles. The fact that stance switching and role synergy is not
well explained is easy to spot when you go into your first On Duty
dungeon and everyone shows up in a DPS role. Likewise, players can
easily go from 1-30 without ever grouping, and then get to 30 only to
find out grouping is mandatory for character progression.
User Interface is an absolute travesty, probably one of the worst I've
seen in any MMO, and you can't control any elements of it. You can't
move any parts of it nor can you resize any parts of it. It is how it is
and you're stuck with it. Communication, as part of the UI, is
absolutely terrible. Trying to type, even using a USB keyboard, causes
you to stop anything you are doing on screen as it brings up the on
screen keyboard while you're typing. Voice chat works only sporadically,
at best. Communication is critical to the success of MMOs where
grouping is necessary to progress, and DCUO's Communication and User
Interface is a hindrance more than a help.
While there may
be decent quests from 1 to 30, 30 becomes a brick wall of boring
repetition. At 30, all there is to do is stand around in a safehouse and
wait in the On Duty queue - single server pve and pvp queues whose wait
time fluctuates - to get into your daily PVE and PVP runs, which you
will be sick of after a week. There are two raids, which have one week
lockouts. This repetition is marred by bugs that should have been
addressed before the game left beta, bugs such as doors to the final
boss not opening and loot either not appearing or disappearing from
inventory after killing a mob or boss. Since the queue system isn't
robust, it could throw 5 DPS together and then put you in a bugged
instance, forcing you to leave and try again.
looking for a Super MMO with a moderate customization, decent story
lines and a polished presentation, DCUO only delivers on two fronts. All in all, it does neither the MMO side nor the button combo, Action platformers (think Devil May Cry, Bayonetta, or God of War), side of combat well. If
you can overlook everything this game does poorly, you will likely get
your $60 out of it, when it's playable, but there's little here which
makes it worth a recurring subscription fee, even at the newly reduced
$29.99 per 3 month plan.
game could become better than the 5 I gave it, but that depends on how much work SOE
wants to put into it. Given their lack of communication on the official
forums, the fact that they have been deleting multi-page threads with constructive criticism of and suggestions for the
game rather than addressing them, and the fact that they do not disclose
patch notes to the playerbase, even if said patches are simply for
server-side issues, I simply cannot believe SOE will support this game
for the long term. With Rift, Guild Wars 2 and SWTOR on the horizon, I
expect DCUO to be all but forgotten by late summer unless SOE pulls a
very large rabbit out of their hat.
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