Firstly, DC Universe online has recently become a free to download and free to play game on the PSN store. (It’s for PC too, but here I am reviewing the PS3 version). It’s an MMORPG of sorts, having you create a superhero or villain from scratch (or modelled on your favourite from a selection) choosing things such as your mentor, skill-set, weapon and of course outfit/style and name.
After fighting you way out of the tutorial level, you are free to run, fly or glide around the cities of Metropolis and Gotham, battle against other players in PvP mode, complete quests, level up and unlock more items and powers and missions.
So what’s good about DCUO? Well I must say the graphics are far better than I had imagined, characters look very different, move quickly and have countless numbers of moves and all look good, lighting is well done and the huge cities are rendered nicely, it’s not amazing to look at, but its pretty impressive. DCUO’s biggest strength is perhaps in it’s variety, the nearly unlimited character creation options, and the many quests and objectives open to do is great, I think there’s something here for everyone, even those who aren’t comic book hero fans. In addition it’s important to acknowledge that this game is currently free to play, there isn’t much on the EU store that one can download gratis, so this is a very good thing indeed.
What’s not so good about DCOU? First and foremost before you rush to find it on the store, is the download size, this is a huge game and you will be downloading in excess of 16gb worth of game file for your playing pleasure, be warned, on the fastest of internet connections this will take many hours. And for all the trophy hunters out there, you only unlock trophies as a Legendary member paying £10 a month (see paragraph below). However, I can personally confirm that as of this moment in time, if you upgrade at any point, any trophies you have achieved are rewarded retrospectively, which is nice.
Lets talk money for a moment too, meaning membership, because although DCUO is free to play, you can also pay to play, buying a DLC gives you premium access which means more character and inventory slots and less queuing to play. (A warning to UK free players, the queue to play from 5pm onwards can be up in the 5000, meaning a hour or so wait before you gain access to the universe, this isn’t always the case, but can happen) For £10 a month you can gain Legendary access which means even more character and inventory slots, no queuing and access to all DLC content for as long as you remain a legendary member. Legendary also grants you the ability to create leagues so that you can join with friends to complete objectives. So the richer amongst us may have the better gaming experience.
Finally in the “I don’t like this part much” section is the difficulty spikes and issue of balance in the game, due to the vast number of character options, this is a challenge in any MMORPG, but I feel the need to note this here. Having been a Legendary player for a month, I can confirm that choosing Green Lantern as your character skill-set makes the first 10 levels and associated missions pretty easy, as opposed to other skills and weapon options. (If you play the game and are initially unimpressed. I strongly recommend you hold out till level 10 when more play options, quests and better perks unlock.) With regards to other character types, hitting level 15 was challenging but achievable, but I can honestly say, the quests given from levels 15-20 are on occasion, what feels like, nigh on impossible to complete solo. There is a strange part of me that enjoys this sort of challenge though, as players are rewarded for learning the game mechanics and trying out different skill combinations.
So the verdict is I would say that DCUO is worth the large download, and was pleasantly surprised by how much fun I have in the Universe. Here’s some scores for you all.
|Gameplay||8/10||Great fun, huge variety but the controls aren’t friendly to new players, takes a while to master.|
|Graphics||9/10||Impressive given it’s an online game, and a well populated universe, but not astounding.|
|Sound||9/10||Great punchy sound effects and a variety of voices.|
|Music||7/10||Epic superhero themed music, but it’s a few songs repeated over and over unfortunately.|
|Story||10/10||Excellent and varied, depending on which mentor, and path you choose.|
|Variety||9/10||Biggest strength of the game, so much to do and explore.|
|Trophies||6/10||Challenging and repetitive, and not available unless you pay for membership.|
|Network||9/10||Have not witnessed any downtime in my hours of play, great so far.|
|Multiplayer||7/10||Very difficult to form leagues and stay close to your friends in battle, this needs improving.|
|Character Customisation||10/10||Truly impressive and importantly, quite easy to use and navigate.|
Total Score: 84% I warn you, if this game sounds like the type of thing you may enjoy, it becomes incredibly addictive quite quickly! Those looking to join a league tweet me (@kezla)