25 Feb

Champions Online

Filed under: PC Games 3 Responses

My version of Area, blatantly copied from the current Marvel Comics character. He’s the Greek God of War who uses guns and rocket launchers.

When Champions Online was first announced, I thought I’d make it the only MMO I’d play since World of Warcraft. However, its reviews all round were pretty terrible when it finally got released and most people actually thought that the older City of Heroes was the better game, so I ended up not playing it. Nowadays it’s clearly an MMO in decline. I signed up for the demo available on Steam anyway just before I left for the Chinese New Year holidays because:

  1. It was free.
  2. I didn’t want to buy and start a new game for a few days and then be forced to stop playing while I was away.
  3. I’ve always liked the idea of creating and customizing your own superhero and was curious to see what I could do in this game.

The experience was overall not a pleasant one. First of all, the patching process was horrendous. The download for the client from Steam worked quite well but the patching process was a nightmare. You’re forced to go through the launcher to update everything to the current version but it provides almost no feedback on what it’s doing. Most of the time, it’d stick you with a tiny window saying “Trying to update Launcher. Please be patient.” and you have no clue if the process is dead or if it’s actually downloading stuff from the servers. I had to download the client three times before it would work properly. Even after that logging in was glitchy and unpredictable. At about the same time, I managed to get my old Eve Online client fully patched up with no trouble and logging in worked flawlessly so I’m pretty sure it wasn’t my connection.

Shooting down nasty invading aliens with my twin guns.

Nevertheless, I persisted and was glad to finally be able to play with the Character Creator. I have no idea how varied the powers themselves are as the demo doesn’t actually allow you to pick up new powers other than the ones you start with, but the options for visual customization seem rich enough. I spent more time exploring different option and creating characters than playing them. The biggest problems I could find were that there aren’t enough choices for coats and you can only add emblems to many types of tops by putting them on an ugly-looking badge instead of being imprinted directly on the surface. I did see many interesting designs made by other players but predictably, the most common designs were ones based on the Na’vi from Avatar.

The basic gameplay is similar to most other MMOs except that it’s supposed to be more actioney. Every character has a basic attack that does a small amount of damage and at the same recharges his energy reserves. In fights, you then activate various powers that drain your energy. There’s a block button that allows you to defend against incoming attacks, something I’ve never seen in other MMOs but presumably can only work reliably if you have a very good latency. The game mechanics are quite complex but sadly the game does a poor job of explaining them. Basically it uses the “wall of text” approach which is at once difficult to absorb and spoils immersion.

The demo puts the player in a starting instance in which the city is being attacked by aliens, so you can get into the action immediately. I have to say that it’s all rather run of the mill stuff. There’s one cool point where you get a special mission that activates for all players in the vicinity where you need to defend the area from attacking aliens, but as it’s still in the newbie zone, the NPCs seem to be capable of doing most of the work. The demo is also quite short and ends immediately once you deal with the alien threat, just at the point where you’re allowed to enter the real game world.

The character that I asked my wife to make one evening.

I can’t recommend the game at all based on what I’ve seen. The demo is too short to really get a good sense of what the game can offer and the inability to buy any new powers makes it impossible to judge how character development will be like over time. It also feels far too unpolished, incomplete and riddled with small technical glitches to be worth my time. I’m interested in playing the newly released Star Trek Online, but after playing the demo for Champions Online, I feel worried about the stability and reliability of the servers. Still, the demo is free and messing around with the Character Creator is quite fun all on its own.

Written on February 25 2010 and is filed under PC Games. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

3 Responses to “Champions Online”

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Wonderfully interesting blog post thanks for writing it I just added your blog to my bookmarks and will check back often.


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