Developer: Sony Online Entertainment
Release Date: Out Now
DC Universe Online is a new MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online) game from Sony Online Entertainment. The game features nearly all of your favourite DC Comic characters, although you only get to play as them in some of the game modes. The game is set in both Metropolis and Gotham City, and which mentor you chose decides which city you will start in.
Those of you who are expecting to be able to play as soon as you get the game will be disappointed. PC Users will be used to waiting to install a game, but PS3 owners be prepared to wait, with the game having a long HDD install, taking about 30 minutes. On top of this both PC and PS3 users will need to download an extra 2.5GB worth of updates. All this data installation took about 2 hours on the PS3, with 15GB total data installed on the Hard drive, so those of you with smaller Hard drives may find yourselves needing to delete some older data in order to make room. The large install is probably so that data can be streamed from the hard drive while moving around in the open world, which is obviously faster than spooling it from the disc.
The game starts with a video showing the DC Universe Heroes fighting with the villains in a war torn world. This ends with one person left standing, the camera looks up to the sky and a huge fleet of spaceships is seen. The one survivor goes back in time to give ordinary people superpowers using microbots and this is where the story begins...
The very first thing to do is create your superhero character. You can either choose from a preset form or create your own from scratch. There is a huge range of customisation options available, from your gender and powers, to what your outfit looks like (colour etc.), even down to how your character stands when left alone. There are millions of possible combinations of customisation, which helps to ensure no two players will look alike. After your character has been created the game will begin with the player breaking out of a prison cell on one of the alien leader Brainiac’s ships. The player has to fight past guards to a control room where they disable the main weapon of the ship, their mentor will teleport in to help them fight enemies until the teleporters are hacked to allow them both to escape. This is more or less exactly the same whether you chose to be a hero or a villain apart from the voice telling you what to do, if you’re a hero it will be Oracle, while if you’re a villain it will be The Calculator. This level acts as the tutorial, teaching you the basic moves in the game, then you are left to your own devices, in either Metropolis or Gotham City.
The game’s story is told through missions, which the player can chose to do by going to various points. These missions range from helping a well-known DC character, to just collecting data from defeated enemies for ordinary people. These missions, or quests, give you XP once complete and some also reward you with items, used to boost your stats. These missions can be done in any order, or don’t have to be done at all if you wish as you’re free to roam and discover just what you can get up to. The game sticks to the open world during the missions, with you having to travel to the set place in the city to carry out a mission. The missions are nicely organised into distinct plotlines, with stages of increasing difficulty, finishing with a battle against a well known hero or villain who acts as a “boss” character. There are also a number of races set around the city, which vary in type depending on the movement you chose for your character; flight, super-speed or acrobatics. These races give you some XP and an item if you get the Platinum medal. To begin with many of these missions will feel the same; ‘defeat 10 of this enemy’ or ‘collect 15 of that item’, but as they progress into more difficult enemies, and different tasks, you become hooked.
The game is very combat orientated, with lots of button mashing needed. As you progress up levels you are given tokens which can be used to unlock different powers and combos, ranging attacks for your chosen ability, to iconic moves from the DC Comic Universe. An enemy can be locked onto so that all attacks are aimed at them but as with most targeting systems this lock-on will often not lock onto the enemy you want, and so you’ll be fighting one enemy and it will lock onto another, leading to you having to fight off groups of enemies at once. To help with combat, and to improve your skills, various items can be used or worn. These items are awarded to the player for completing quests and defeated enemies will sometimes drop them. They can be mixed; parts from one theme don’t have to be with parts from the same theme, and can help you customise the look of your character even more. At higher levels this equipment is needed to stop you getting killed quickly, but the equipment is damaged by every enemy hit and so at higher levels it doesn’t last very long and will need to keep being fixed.
As you get to higher levels the game options open out even more. Once at level nine you can go on ‘Alert’ missions, where you’ll team up with some other players to take on a special mission in one of three areas; Area 51, Gorilla Island or Bludhaven. At higher levels you’ll find player PvP (player versus player) modes available, and will also be able to compete in the Legends matches, where you play as one of the well know DC characters to complete an objective-based mission. This adds to the game’s variety, and there are hours of gameplay available in just these modes alone.
Graphics-wise DC Universe Online can’t really be faulted. The cel-shading works well with the bright colours and vibrant surroundings, and the open world features lots of detail. There are a few bits here and there which could be better, such as the wheels on cars not actually turning, and it sometimes takes a while for the scenery to pop up and for textures to load when you change location. The animations on the characters are very well done, and some of the ability attacks look brilliant.
Overall DC Universe is a good solid MMO, even for those of you unfamiliar with DC Comics. There are a few glitches here and there including some annoying voice chat issues, but they can be expected from such a huge open world game and will hopefully be fixed at some point. Just completing the missions alone will take hours, and although some can become tedious after a while alternative modes will keep you coming back for more.
- Free roaming on huge map. - No specific order for missions. - Wide range of customisation. - Hours of missions to do.
- 15GB install - Lock-on doesn’t always lock onto correct enemy - Equipment breaks easily - Voice chat issues - Doesn’t explain all parts of game very well.