Monday, August 17, 2009

Champions Online Review Part 2: Breaking it down

Graphics:

The graphics in this game are good, but inconsistent. This really detracts from immersion and is a distraction. The actual character models are well detailed, animate smoothly, and look good. But they look plastic. It's like someone took an Alex Ross cover and ran it through the Plastic Wrap filter on Photoshop.

Some enemy models are highly detailed like the character models, the Foxbot enemies and the Super Villains. Others are barely detailed to the point that they should just be faceless, formless blobs. Background run from the extremely detailed desert landscapes to minimalist art deco style buildings you would see in Batman the Animated Series. Both are fine on their own, but again a lack of consistent art style detracts from the game.

This is also true with the environmental objects. Things like billboards are super detailed high tech, slick and bright, but cars are little more than noir shaped outlines.

Gameplay:

If you've played WoW or EQ, you've played Champions. The only difference is the End builder mechanic, and it isn't different enough to distinguish game play in anyway.

Sound:

Through most of the Beta, sound didn't work at all on my primary computer due to a bug where the game would crash if you had a 64-Bit processor and ran Realtek sound drivers. When sound did work, it was generic and often didn't match up with the action on screen, being delayed like a bad kung-fu film dubbing.

When it did work, it was servicable.

Fun:

Taken by its parts, CO is kind of fun. But it's pretty mundane. There is nothing here you haven't seen already. Playing for more than an hour at a time, the contact grind and time sinks begins to wear on you. The problem is that to have any sense of accomplishment you really need to be playing for 2 or 3 hours at a sitting. This means it gets old pretty quickly.

In Game Systems:

Crafting: Almost useless. You will have better items from missions and random drops than you can craft at all points. You also have to harvest resources, and what you harvest is random. You also do a lot of “research” on items you find, which allows you to reclaim resources from them as well as increasing your crafting skill. The only time I really used crafting was to build consumable health packs.

Social: Didn't work. Teaming didn't, Auction House didn't, Ignore didn't, Search didn't. Multiple testers advised them that these features needed to be top of the list. Instead we got Winamp and I-Tunes integration.

PvP: You want to PvP? Do you want to PvP to win? Get a flight, get invulnerability, get a charge up ranged attack power. Make sure you have more of those than the other guy. You've just won. Every, and I mean Every, PvP match I participated in was won by the side with the most ranged attackers.

Combat: A lot of promises were made about combat, almost none were kept. Environment affecting combat was promised, didn't happen, enemies can shoot through cover, can super jump to the top of buildings, and almost every enemy above the basic “henchman” level has a ranged attack power that shuts off your travel power. Dynamic combat was promised, didn't happen. Target mob, press 1 for auto-attack, when End is high enough, hit your stronger attack. That's it. There is active blocking, but almost all MMOs have that now, so it is hardly awe inspiring.

Controls: Standard MMO.

1 comment:

Jani said...

I disagree with almost every point in your post about Champions Online.

Sounds like you we're paid some money by a competitor to tarnish their rep or something, but they actually made some new innovations work in the MMO genre.

"...but again a lack of consistent art style detracts from the game."

If you've ever read the comics of old, you can tell the consistency of the artistic styles and from which cartoon each style is from and how consistently the package flows through the game.


"If you've played WoW or EQ, you've played Champions. The only difference is the End builder mechanic, and it isn't different enough to distinguish game play in anyway."

Wrong.

WoW and EQ are different games than Champions Online and have much more rigid, old, rather ancient systems of combat mechanics.

The 'End builder mechanic' is different enough to distinguish the game play in a unique and immersive way since it brings 'blocking' style moves and 'charge up' style moves to the use of the player, not only the 1 sided 'charge up' mechanic and to see this you actually have to play the game more than 2 minutes.


I totally disagree on your paragraph about the Sound.

Being a 64-Bit processor owner and having Realtek sound drivers, the -ignorex64check parameter owned the sound problem for me without any problems or crashes and left me updating my long-not-updated sound drivers which was good to do atlast(was way due on that update like many others im sure).


About Fun.

CO is mundane, but there is something really genuine and new to see there for the lonely or veteran mmorpg player.

If one likes superhero action, the so called 'grind' does not begin to wear like in plastic rigid WoW or others old alike.

The sense of accomplishment comes from 'saving' npc's and friendly players even sometimes from 'danger' and it spins around the whole "..you know i bought this game 'cos i like superheroes like Superman and Batman, and yeah, Im 25 years old..", this is fun spawning from a certain comic book generations backbrain. If you havent read comic books and seen some heroes, you cant easily get the game.



Alot more to write about but no more time, gotta go to a meeting, but about Combat it seems I disagree too.

Have a nice day, just expressing my opinion

J.