DC Universe, Champions: NYCC (Much) Cop?

By Kieron Gillen on February 23rd, 2009 at 6:03 pm.

Pants on the outside, gameplayability on the inside. Also, genitalia.

[NYCC is getting ever more distant, so this is probably the last of the round-ups of games I played swiftly there. Unless I do a round-up post of the things I played hyper-quick or just watched. And… go!]

This is a Comicon. Clearly, I couldn’t help but play these two. With the two competitors for the MMO Superhero crown within twenty or so metres of one another, it makes a lot of sense to play one, then immediately head over to the other in a feat of superhuman videogames journalism. By which I mean, playing a game and saying what I think of it. I’m hardly Batman.

The immediate difference was one of simple preparation. The Champions Online stand was very much dropping you in an area with a pre-generated character and letting you wander around and fight people. The DC Universe was created an active demonstration. with a miniature plot which the people on the stand encouraged you to play though. So I walked away from he DC Universe having fought my way inside Star Labs and then teamed up with Lex Luthor to take down the Doomsday (and got insulted by baldy for the trouble) with Champions Onlne, I hit some baddies with a sword, then hit some more and hit some more and eventually wandered away, trying to decide whether I should play some more games or try and get some of the surprisingly acceptable convention Chinese food.

In other words, DC Universe made a better impression of itself at least as much because it tried to make a better impression of itself. It dressed up proper for the occasion and, as such, was the more satisfying experience.

(Talking about dressing-up – neither game showed any sign of the character design stuff, which is a shame. It’s the area that everyone is clearly dying to get hands on with. There was the running theme at the DC booth of people fending the “Can’t I be Superman?” esque question, to which the answers were impressively polished.)

The second thing to note about the pair of games – DC Universe’s booth, as far as I could see, only had joypad controllers. Champion Online had – equally, as far as I could see – only mouse and keyboard controls. I also wonder how much this directly influenced how it was to play. Champions Online, despite the systems we’ve already talked about, felt very much like City of Heroes or most other trad-MMOs. DC Universe felt more like Final Fight – or, with its small party set-ups, a combination of Final Fight and Phantasy Star Online. While I was paying some attention to powerbars and health and similar, much of my time I re-connected with my Inner-Haggar and amused myself picking up things and smashing the living hell out the opposition with them. Having played the game briefly before at San-Diego Comic-Con, I managed to actually get appreciative gasps from the crowd when I froze Doomsday with my earth-powers, picked him up, and used him as an improvised melee weapon against a few other people.

MMOs are big games. You worry about depth in DC Universe. Well – you wonder about depth in either. But DC Universe, at the show, seemed to be much more in its element. Both in how it was presented and the elements of the game it has a sense of showmanship which Champions Online didn’t display. And, in its brutal-fighter-esque way, seems to be the game that most obviously offers something different from the standard MMO experience. This competition remains one of the most interesting in the coming year, but I’d say that in the Comicon-confrontation, DC Heroes came ahead.

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15 Comments »

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  1. Chalkster says:

    Much as I enjoy a good smash-up, my choice in MMO won’t be determined by gameplay. I’m far too vain for that.
    It’ll be the character creation engine that will hold my attention, just as it does now, in City of X.

    We shall see what we shall see.

  2. The_B says:

    I’m hardly Batman.

    Lets look at the evidence –

    Two primary occupations.
    Considered by some to be a hero (see: pieces on Cradle)
    Considered by an equal amount of be a villain (see: FEAR2, NGJ)
    A sidekick in one of the occupations (Yes, I’m calling McKelvie Robin)
    Part of a collective in the other occupation, but also does stuff on his own. (Yes, RPS are the games journo equivalent of The Justice League)

    Plus you never see Kieron or Batman in the same room together at the same time. COINCIDENCE?

  3. Bootch says:

    I had a look at both the games (watched a couple of vids on internet and checked the websites) and from what I saw and read, theres two major differences in the games.

    DC Universe seemed very much a fun to play, well thought about game with in-depth stories etc.

    Champion seemed to have a very much so more customizable character system but with very linear, boring looking game play. Looking at it as a whole it just seemed more like a magical powers, mythical usual RPG scenario (Just WoW and the likes with fancy rubber/latex costumes -.-)

    So overall Champions online looked sucky in comparison.

    And about the gamepads they used for DC Universe, in a video he said it was for PC and PS3 (maybe xbox cant remember) and could be played with a controller or keyboard and mouse. At the convention I think it was a PC with a PS3 controller plugged in via USB :P

  4. fodigg says:

    Hmm. They had xbox pads for CoH at Gencon. It was actually what I enjoyed about it.

  5. cliffski says:

    How come superheores always shoot beams out of their eyes? It makes no sense. your eyes are not an orifice. You would assume that lightning bolts would blast out of your mouth or ass, if anywhere.
    Just saying.

  6. Kieron Gillen says:

    It looks fucking awesome.

    KG

  7. Nick says:

    Who says you need orifices to shoot things from?

  8. Marcin says:

    Hands. Blaster bolts from hands. Sense? No. Looks awesome? Yes.

    When I was at E3 several years back, Tabula Rasa had a GREAT running demo, and see how that turned out. I’ll just have to wait and see both of these for myself.

  9. Foca Mais says:

    Beams are made of light. If light can enter your eye why can´t they make their way out ?
    Bolts can run throught anything that conducts electricity. The trick is to know how to conciously conduct electricity to the palm of your hand and shoot it without dying of shock.

  10. Chaz says:

    Never really got into the whole super heroes thing as a kid, probably because it is more of an American comics thing than what I grew up with here in the UK. Dan Dare and Judge Dredd were my heroes. Give me an MMO based around some 2000AD characters any day of the week. How about a Strontium Dog MMO where you can create your own mutant?

  11. Lobotomist says:

    DC sounds like well thought out console beat them up with great story and characters.

    Champions sounds like generic world/game

    Remember that we are not talking about single player game here, we are talking MMO

    Tight story + scripted events are not good for MMO , it should be generic and let players create stories for them selves.

    This is why Champions will have longevity and DC will be flavor of the month (like AOC for example)

  12. Chaz says:

    Whilst I’m not really interested in either, I expect them both to do fairly well as they both have console exclusivity. DC being a SOE product is exclusive to the PS3 as well as the PC, and likewise with Champions on the 360. So even if one does better than the other on the PC, the console sales should help even things up a bit.

  13. Rei Onryou says:

    It’s hard to determine which game would be better based on the floor show. Some devs go all out, others just show a small bit, but it may not be conclusive of the final product. I really want to find out which one has a better Character Customizer (let’s be honest, your experience will be determined by how much your hero feels like YOUR hero) as well as general long-term gameplay. Whichever gets the best PCG/RPS review will probably be my choice of game (or whichever one everyone else decides to play).

  14. Ian says:

    Not enough super-people fire stuff from their elbows.

  15. Redford says:

    You said the magic word.

    “Phantasy Star Online”.

    Stop making me excited about a Sony product, dammit.