City of Heroes Review
By mmohut's Omer Altay
City of Heroes is a uniquely themed Superhero MMORPG. The game was developed by Cryptic Studios, the folks behind Champions Online, and published by NCSoft. Although the game never became too popular it has survived the test of time, as it’s been around for a good 5 years now. I’m not exactly a superhero or comic book fan, but I still respect the folks over at Cryptic Studios for creating such an original game. If you like superheroes or comic books, City of Heroes is well worth checking out.
Players start their adventure in Paragon City by first creating their own superhero and selecting their archetype, which basically determines their class. The five ‘archetypes’ are Blasters [Long Range damage dealers], Controllers [Mage class with powers to disable opponents], Defenders [characters with powerful debuffs and buffs], Scrappers [Melee fighters with quick melee attacks], Tankers [High offense and Defense. Primary tank class]. Players can create villains as well, which also have their own five archetypes. On top of archetypes, players can select their superhero’s ‘origin’ from one of five selections which determine what sort of future enhancements your character will have. On top of archetypes and origins, players can also select one of many primary power sets, which determine what weapons / abilities your character is proficient with.
Amazing Character Creation
Yes, this topic deserves a good paragraph for itself. The character creation in City of Heroes is absolutely phenomenal. I can say with confidence that City of Heroes has the best character customization of any MMORPG, both free to play and pay to play alike. The only other game with a comparable level of character creation is Perfect World, but City of Heroes still beats it hands down. Since the game is a superhero themed one, players get to create their own superhero and even customize their powers. The character creation screen gives players so many tools to work with that there are nearly limitless different ways to design your character. From costume to physical features there are literally countless options to play with, which ensures that players can create genuinely ‘unique’ characters in the game.
Button Mashing Fun
The combat in City of Heroes is fairly unique, as there is no ‘default’ auto attack. Every attack in the game requires players to hit some sort of hotkey or button. I find this system vastly superior to the generic ‘click the enemy and wait for it to die’ system, as it keeps the player engaged. Even at level four, I had five different attacks to use, which meant during battle I would constantly be mashing my hotkeys if I wanted to deal the maximum amount of damage possible. The more powerful attacks tend to have longer cooldowns as well, so players can’t just mash one attack and expect to do well. There is a problem though with the game’s entire combat system though. It’s way too easy.
During my time with City of Heroes, I never came close to dying. Not once. Heck, I never even came close to falling below 80% health, and I’ve been completing every quest I’ve been given. There is a way to make the game a bit more challenging though. Players can ‘up’ the difficult of their missions by talking to the ‘Field Analyst’ in the game, but even this only increases the difficulty inside of missions. Enemies outside of missions always feel too easy. From my experience with the game though, it’s not worth killing enemies outside of missions as missions yield much better experience points and ‘influence points’ than just fighting enemies on the streets
Wait? Where’s the loot?
One incredibly unique thing about City of Heroes is that enemies in the game don’t drop any loot. Players instead gain experience points and ‘influence’ every time they defeat an enemy. Influence is basically the in game currency, as players can use it to purchase new skills and abilities. Just because enemies don’t drop loot doesn’t mean the game lacks any features other MMOs have, as City of Heroes has all the standard MMO staples including player guilds, PvP, crafting etc.
Even though City of Heroes is a good 5 years old it isn’t being neglected. Since launch the game has enjoyed the release of 15 major content updates dubbed ‘issues’ [get it? Comic books? Haha]. The game’s most recent issue was released just a few weeks ago and the game’s developers have since announced that they will be releasing a new expansion to the game titled ‘City of Heroes: Going Rogue’. If you’re considering giving City of Heroes a try, know that the developers still care about the game and that it’s still updated frequently.
You’d imagine that a game with a superhero theme would have some epic crime fighting quests, but unfortunately, that isn’t the case. From my experience with the game, most of the quests involve entering a random building and beating up some generic thugs. Quests like this aren’t bad, but it’s a bit frustrating that nearly ALL of the game’s quests play out like this, at least during the early levels of the game. To be fair though, the first few times I ran teamed up with other heroes and completed a mission with them, beating up a bunch of enemies as a group did feel awesome, but after beating up thugs for a couple of hours, the fun quickly dies out.
Final Verdict – Fair
City of Heroes is an incredibly unique game, and a must play for superhero / comic book fans, but other than that the game just doesn’t do a great job keeping the player hooked. The free trial restrictions are also fairly restrictive, as trial users won’t be able to get past level 13 and can only have a maximum of 50K influence.
Pros: +Large game world. +Unique superhero theme. +Top notch character creation and customization. +Many playable classes.
Cons: -Limited PvP options. -Game world feels empty. -Missions are repetitive and dull. -Gameplay feels slow paced.