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Heroes

Preview: Champions Online

Jul 13 // Ben Perlee
Champions Online (PC, Xbox 360)Developer: Cryptic StudiosPublisher: AtariTo be released: September 2009 (PC) Xbox 360 TBA The Champions IP -- or those not nearly "nerdy" enough -- is a dice, pen, and paper-based role-playing game from the 1980s. The game gives players deep customization options, and Cryptic is really aiming to recreate those same options, but in a visual and action-oriented manner. The team wants you to be able to create any character you want, with any awesome superhero name you want (no more "Superdude1987"), and to have your hero look just as he or she should.How do they do this? Well, the create-a-character mode is really, really deep. With sliders ranging from how far back your muscles are cut, to how far your cheek bones arch, there must be close to a 50 or 60 sliders to design your dream hero. It's very, very deep, and I'm reminded of many of wrestling titles, offering deep customization... except it's in an MMO. Even the powers can be deeply personalized. Emanation points (where powers shoot out from) can be changed to different parts of the body, and the colors of those abilities can be changed as well. Most everything is completely customizable, and while Cryptic offers 18 basic power sets (i.e. fire, ice, supernatural, gadgeteering, martial arts, super defense, etc.), any power can be placed on the character. Do you want a dude named Freezerburn with fire/ice skills, an ice slide that's yellow, and green fire that shoots from his eyes? It's all possible in Champions.Even traveling in Champions Online is specialized. Teleportation, flight, hover boards, ice and fire slides, mechanical boards, digging, and a whole lot more are movement options at your disposal. Fun little features, like being able to do the Soulja Boy dance, aim to keep this game grounded in fun.However, your hero isn't the only character you will create. Champions Online will force you to design your hero's arch-nemesis, a boss character with just as much customization as your hero, integral to your individual storyline. Interestingly, you can be lame like Batmen towards the Joker, and let your nemesis live after every fight. Or you can be awesome and wipe him/her out. You'd like to kill your archenemy? Well, you'll get the chance to make a new one, up to 18 in total. I spent about 20 minutes with this mode, playing around to create (of course) Mr. Destructoid. In my moment of creativity, he was a gadgeteer/gun class, as only Mr. D could be so badass. Unfortunately, since I couldn't find the clothing options for anything other than “skintight,” and there isn't exactly a smoking robot head (although Hamza will be excited to know shark-men are very easy to make), the creation I came up with looked more like a Tony Stark/mecha love child. Oops.Gameplay-wise Champions Online has been designed to be an action MMO. Sure, the interface and controls are very typical for the genre (unless you use the control pad, or switch the controls to a shooter or action style), but the action much faster than your typical MMO. Attack commands issue almost immediately, and defensive action commands and maneuvers are very important for survival.I've been told that while the soloing stuff is a big portion of the game (and missions are scaled depending on the number of both NPC allies and other players), the higher level stuff is almost impossible to beat without a max squad of five players, and the drops (which are designed depending on your character types) are different depending on the number of fighters. PvP is an interesting affair. Players can have “duels” at any time, any place. Once a fight has been agreed upon, a rocket will drop down to the ground, either creating a battle dome for ground battles, of a sphere for aerial battles, and players can duke it out for funsies. Experience can be earned in PvP, and certain drops can only be gained in this mode. It's an “unsanctioned” battle that's compared to a sumo match, as once one player leaves the arena, the other wins.Also, there is a special mode called the "Hero Games." Portrayed like a UFC match, (but still consistent with the Champions canon), players can fight in officially sanctioned duals (much like the duals mentioned above), but made official events in the game world, as opposed to the random battles on the streets. Even more interesting than the "Hero Games" are the "Apocalypse" maps. This PvP game mode is not typical for MMOs. Rather than just duking it out, players of 5v5 have goals to win a battle. For example, the "Apocalype" map they had on display, "Stronghold Prison," was a 5-on-5 battle between villainous prisoners trying to escape and defensive heroes. Each side is charged with killing NPC heroes on either end of the prison. Complicating things are long corridors filled with turrets that shoot stuff to slows you down and limit your traveling skill. It's a very chaotic mode that relys on a lot of teamwork. Without it, you'll be like me, and die a lot. Champions Online impressed me. Graphically, it's a super colorful cel-shaded world that looks to offer a whole lot of action with a different change of pace, compared to many other MMOs. It seems that Cryptic reviewed their experience with making superhero MMOs, decided what needs to be improved, and went about improving it. With a solid action style, a desire to let you create any superdude you want, and the hush-hush 360 version (very exciting!), Champions Online might be the MMO to check out this September.
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I'll be the first to admit: The idea of being a superhero has been a stupid little fantasy of mine many times in my life. Who doesn't want to be able to have amazing powers and do awesome things, preferably with a theme song?...

E3 09: hands on with DC Universe Online

Jun 04 // Colette Bennett
The only reason I quit playing City of Heroes is because I realized I wanted to forego pretty much all my real-life responsibilities to play it. MMO's are dangerous for those with a short attention span, and I've pretty much tried to keep clear of them since then to preserve what sense of productivity I do have. To be honest though, after hands on time with DC Universe Online, I don't think I can resist playing this one. Samit has already filled us in with a ton of info in his original impressions post, so I won't go back and repeat all that word for word. Just in case you've never heard of this game and have been living under Rumplestilskin's mustache for the last few years, it's an action-centric MMO which allows you to play as either a hero or a villain and interact with all your favorite JLA characters. I started out by playing through two basic missions: the first was a beat-em-up that allowed me to mess around with my ridiculously powerful skills such as swinging around a giant hammer, throwing earth spikes up through the ground and picking up colossal objects to throw at my enemies. After that, I got an antidote mission that sent me off to knock out some infected and then heal them. After you do that, they get up and help you to fight, which I thought was really cool.After I healed some infected, I headed deeper into the level and came across a huge boss, who I fought alongside Superman (and let me tell you how freaking awesome THAT was!). After he fell, you take his brain to a containment field, and best of all, you can use it along the way to beat on enemies with. The novelty of beating people with a massive mutant brain is just hard to describe, but I'm sure you imagine how great it felt to do it!When I got knocked out (and by the way, there is no death in the game -- heroes don't really "kill"), I noticed the choice to rally or flee. You have three chances to rally, which simply means to rejoin the fight, but after three knockouts you have no choice and you have to flee. Your tenacity will reward you at the end of missions with a headline, which comes in the form of a newspaper boasting your good deeds in bold letters on the front page. SOE is not sure if this feature is staying in yet or not, but I hope they keep it -- it really fits the feeling of the game well. DC Universe Online doesn't have a release date yet, and then version I saw is very much a work in progress, so a lot of things could change before it finally hits retail. What I played was really engaging and fun through, and I got the feeling this is an MMO you can play solo or wth your friends with equal ease (which is a huge selling point for me since I'm an RPG gamer at heart!). Now if I can manage to not get too addicted...  
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Any DC fan was probably already drooling as soon as they heard that Sony Online Entertainment was working on an MMO featuring the characters of the DC Universe, but I found myself wondering what it might have to offer beyond ...

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Prince of Persia voice actor recounts survival of Mumbai attacks


Dec 03
// Samit Sarkar
Last week, while Americans were celebrating Thanksgiving, a series of ten coordinated terrorist attacks hit Mumbai, India. Over 170 people have been confirmed dead thus far, and nearly 300 were injured in the tragic, brutal a...
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'Heroes' game is official, will be published by Ubisoft


Jul 26
// Dale North
We've heard a bit of buzz this week, but now it's real: A videogame based on NBC's hit television show Heroes has just been officially announced. Ubisoft signed a licensing agreement with Universal Pictures Digital Platforms...

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