Updated Wed, Nov 04, 2009 by Martuk
The Hero Games are a lot of fun despite a couple of issues.
The Hero Games PvP is set up in a neat way, but it’s not without its issues. One PvP issue I took notice of was with root abilities. You can continually be rooted without that small window of root immunity present in many other MMOGs. I spent the first minute or so of my first PvP match getting chain rooted near the entrance. Not only that, while you're rooted, your enemies can just pummel you and not break the hold. So imagine being helplessly rooted and all you can do is press the break button while everyone just kicks the crap out of you, and then, when you finally break the hold, you get rooted again. That was kind of my first PvP experience. Luckily, this didn't happen every time and the PvP was actually fun when it spilled into group combat.
You can't have an MMOG without loot, and Champions Online integrated loot in a way that can help enhance your hero much like other MMOGs. The economy isn't the greatest and Bill Roper has stated that this is something that is being worked on, but in the meantime you can keep gathering resources and use your funds for learning and mastering your research and development (crafting) skill and buying and upgrading power skills.
Combat feels faster, but it is still based on the traditional MMOG combat style.
Combat is pretty fun and is really done in the style of traditional MMOGs but with a slightly more action oriented aspect. The fighting seems much faster paced, but you still pick your skills from the traditional hotbar and wait for them to execute. This can become interesting in groups of superheroes with high particle effects as you can see all kinds of colorful clouds exploding on the screen. You can also block attacks by holding the block button to reduce the damage you receive. This adds a nice strategic element to the game and can often times mean the difference between victory and defeat in a battle. I used the hit, run, and block method with several supervillains to achieve victory.
Your superhero levels up much like you level in traditional MMOGs. You gain experience by completing missions and killing enemies and as you gain levels, you'll earn points that can be used to purchase new powers and enhance some current ones. You'll have more solo content than not, but you'll also encounter some enemy lairs that you'll need a group to get through. Nothing crushes your superhero ambitions faster than some supervillain making you scream for your mommy.
Champions Online is a pretty good game as a superhero-based MMOG. While there is nothing really groundbreaking in it, the game does use a tried and true formula that works. The scenery is interesting and the themes of the areas are creative, keeping the game interesting as you make your way through it. The music is well done and often fits the theme of the area well. For example, in Burnside you get a clearly defined western theme somewhat symbolic of those old spaghetti western movies as you make your way through the old west style ghost town. While the game does have a few issues, some that are being worked on, it's certainly worth giving a try if you're a fan of the superhero genre.