October 25, 2011


I've seen some bullshit dick moves when it comes to the F2P marketing scheme lately, but so far I've never seen someone use and abuse specific taglines as badly as City of Heroes has done. I had no intention of paying more than 1 month sub to the game because, quite frankly, that game isn't worth $15 a month. I had no intention of logging in to maybe fool around every now and then and chat with friends, and collect badges because that's what I do, but I can't even enjoy that much anymore.

Now that my VIP status has expired, I expected to lose access to Praetoria, alignment, and my incarnate stuff as advertised and keep everything I owned prior to the F2P update, as the document even claimed. But nope, that's plain bullshit. First thing I notice, well not notice it's more of get a big box covering my screen once I was out of VIP, my character slots have been locked and I can only unlock 6 of them. 6 of the 12 slots I owned on just one server. They want me to pay to unlock the rest I earned and paid for years ago. I even lost access to several powers and emotes I had received throughout the tenure of my stay in City of Villains before I quit. That chafed me the wrong way to but that wasn't enough to make me rage against the wall and I expected it no less.

No, the straw that's really broke the camel's back for me and files the City of Heroes NCSoft F2P as one giant con job and uber dickery move that people who continue to play it bend over gratefully for is the fact that enhancements I earned over 3 years ago have been locked out. I have entire sets of enhancements from back when the invention system first hit the scene in City of Heroes but they are no longer working. It was a shock to me because I didn't know this fact that my entire build became invalid with a clean sweep change. This is like earning your gear in another MMO and being told you can't use your gear until you pay more. This is money grubbing uber dickery at its finest, and what's even funnier are the vast number of people who think this is perfectly fine.

No, this is not perfectly fine. This is a lie of epic proportions. I noticed that the actual amount of activity had diminished greatly the past few days and I suspect what I am feeling now is probably the reason why. The F2P bug wore off and the reality of the bullshit that NCSoft is trying to pull has sunk in. The nostalgia trip is over and people are leaving again to see that nothing has changed and they want you to pay for it in the process.

And what really makes me laugh about this is the people who turn around and try to cite Cryptic as being con artists because of how they handle freeform versus archetype. At least they were upfront about it and respected legacy stuff as well. Not to mention Cryptic has bent over backwards at times to actually make their F2P acceptable. And what's even funnier are the people that claim the Archetypes are restrictive, yet these people play a game where you are forced, forever, to be one class, with two power sets with no real change between them. I rag Cryptic a lot but I give them props for actually doing what they say and not coming up with bullshit along the lines of sounding like it's just the spirit that counts.


I've had a couple of people try to tell me I get what I paid for. OK nimrods, here's the thing. I paid for this crap years ago. And now NCSoft wants me to pay again. Hell, I have a friend who owned and had upgraded their account with Going Rogue and they lost all of that and NCSoft, again, told them to repay for it. No, just no. That's plain bullshit ripoff con job.

October 21, 2011

Reviewing the City of Heroes Halloween Event

This is actually a nice exterior map, but beneath it is a
rail shooter that is just missing the rails to make the set

Well, the first game that I am currently playing has released their Halloween event and so far, well, I can't say a whole hell of a lot because there isn't a whole hell of a lot to it. Now, before people come in and take the chance to sit here and tell me how wrong or stupid I am, let me explain this a little bit. First, I want to say I am not ragging on the season; I love Halloween. It is my favorite time of year, and before any neo pagans or whatever try to come in and tell me about the history of the holiday, I will tell you now, yes, I know. In fact I probably know more about it than you neo pagans probably know yourselves since I actually studied up on it over several years because I like this holiday that much.

Now, back on point. Halloween has been a rather staple event in City of Heroes for the past couple of years. However, for the most part it has always been a rather open world thing. Go knock (or click really) on a few doors, get monsters or treats, or beat up a couple of special event Giant Monsters that are just the Croatoa monsters rehashed in the world at large. (Yes, I know Eochai came before Croatoa, but since he is a regular now, I will state it my way). They've added bits here over the years but it was pretty much the same event.

That was until around the time of Issue 10, when the Invasion started. You see, the invasion was cool during that scenario because of limited time badges and a feeling that the timeline was escalating. However, the brains over at NCSoft actually took that to mean we wanted invasions all the time, and now you can't even wiggle an eyebrow without an invasion week or something like it going on. This is something that NCSoft really hasn't grasped, that a limited time event loses its charm when it's constantly repeatable and it loses the value of reward for having participated in it when you know all the rewards you get will be there throughout the year for people to get with even less effort than you had to work for.

Now how I mean this is NCSoft thought that Invasion was so popular they would do something similar for the Halloween that year Invasion came out; A Zombie Apocalypse zone invasion. Same mechanics basically, minus bombing, and pretty much everyone either huddles around for the most zombies possible or they hide under cover (oddly) to avoid zombie spawns or better yet leave that particular zone.

Past this time I had little knowledge of because I actually quit playing City of Heroes around then, but I know, now, the banners were added and how those mechanics work (think zombie apocalypse with predetermined locations and a macguffin that needs to be destroyed to stop the spawning) and when Going Rogue and its tip missions came out, a Halloween tip that you could get that gave you a stupid easy instance you could run through to kill one guy and pick the badge you liked. And if you were bored enough get them all by repeating that step 5 times in total.

This year's Halloween is just all that, plus the addition of a level 29 trial that people get to enter. The trial sounded fun at first and there are some rewards for completing it, however, after having played through it a couple of times it came off rather bland and uninspired to me to be blunt about it.

First it's just a straight corridor map, IE you enter one end exit the other, no real deviation, just follow the hallway type map. There are turns and twists in it, IE the hallway turns and twists, but there aren't any real get off the beaten path moments or changes. The interior is nice and they probably spent some time on putting it together, but it loses its charm when you feel like there should be rails and a car under you at that point.

Second, unless your team is very thick or something, you can pretty much get all the badges this thing has to offer in one go. Hell, the only reason to do this trial a second time is to get both of the unlocks that it offers, and only if you decided that paying for those items in the Paragon store wasn't your cup of tea, which is funny to me since most everyone I did that map with did buy those items in the Paragon store (I didn't personally since none of them fit my theme).

Finally, like mentioned previously, there are no surprises. You are actually told what to do for all the special stuff right out. Instead of figuring any of this out we are basically led around like a terrier with commands to tell us to do it that way. The boss fights are forgettable and uninspired as the first boss is just Adamanstor made into an AV that you can basically laugh at, and the final boss fight is set up and easily tankable by one person while the rest just go off and get zombies for the badge they explain to you how to get in the entire event bar. Leaving no real mystery, it even says kill boss last. The only surprise is you need a costume to get the zombies out faster and defeating the boss wearing a costume gives you one of three badges. It's a fight that tests how thick people are, and trust me I've already ran into some people who were thick enough to replace the Berlin Wall.

In the end, this update to the Halloween event was just a disappointment. I don't expect much since they've only tacked on small bits every year, but with this aping of the trial and such I expected a heck of a lot more. There is a secret in it, but it isn't even worth your time as the fight is pathetic and there isn't even an acknowledgement badge to denote you even found it or anything really. So in short, it's a ride that's missing the rails and car to make it official. It's entertaining the first time through but after that point you should only be doing a second time if you need both of the costume rewards. New comers will probably get overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of things for Halloween, but that's because that's just several years worth of stuff tacked onto the original event. It's a nice effort, but still comes off disappointing to what it should have been.

October 18, 2011

Ranting about RP in an MMO

I've harped on this before, but I guess it's time to harp on it again; I really hate bad role-players. And not just any type of bad role-playing but the type that actually makes fan fiction look good. The type of people that think they are role-playing just because they like to describe every insipid, pointless action and call it an art form. This isn't role-play people, this is boring exposition and like it or not, role-playing isn't about boring exposition.

I use to be big into role-playing a long time ago, but I came to the realization that role-playing is practically a dead medium in the MMO industry because of the simple fact that no one can actually accept that they are not a unique little snowflake, and the potential that their character could lose to anyone else is a cardinal sin. Not to mention, it disgusts me immensely people expect me to take someone at face value for a level 1 character is suppose to be the next savior of the universe, or a god-like being when they wouldn't even have hope 1 in hell of defeating my character. God moding your character doesn't make you a role-player.

The ones that really annoy me are the RPers that don't even take the 5 minutes to read up on the lore basics and actually try to fit their character into the universe they are RPing in. In fact, many of the so called RP characters are blatant rip-offs of other, well established characters from other mediums that can't even fit in the universe that is being offered. And instead of actually fitting in, they stick out like a sore thumb on a yeti in the middle of a green park.

It's things like that that really drive me nuts. And that's not even getting into the fact that when people sit down and just write their paragraph worth of exposition to describe taking a sip from a goddamn drinking glass, they can't even be bothered to use the proper tense for the sentence and that really irks me to no end. Example: Would take another small bite and speaks after she swallows. What? Did you take the bite or didn't you? Use proper tense and grammar damn it. And why do you need to tell me you are speaking, when if you are using proper punctuation, it should be bloody obvious? You are not the Shakespeare of the gaming world people so stop trying to write like you're a literary genius in the making. And quit trying to write everything with pointless exposition that doesn't mean a goddamn thing. This is what separates professional authors from fan fiction writers.

Now, don't get me wrong. I love to RP, and I love to try and RP in MMOs, but the fact some of you don't even try really kills that immersion half of you bitch about but don't even bother sticking to yourself. And don't sit there and try to describe every inch of your action just to say you stifle a yawn; that is not good role-playing. In other words, quit trying so hard to sound impressive when you are making yourself look like a tool.

Maybe it's the lack of tools in the medium (but then again, in UO the RP was top notch and the number of physical emotes we had was two) compared the tripe we see in the modern MMO. In the end, it's just getting bad and a complete turn off seeing so much immersion breaking and bad RP being used.

October 15, 2011

Remembering City of Villains -- The Faction Oft Forgot.

I still have sometime before I get swallowed up for a day or two by Deus Ex: Missing Link DLC, so I figured I will sit back and talk about a few things conversely in City of Heroes. Namely game play and content and what should have happened. Of course, my view is objectivist, but I know it is a view that many others share or have shared in the past and I still feel as strongly as I did about them in the past as I do now.

Now the first thing I want to get out of the way is something I touched on quite a bit in my last review of City of Heroes, and that's the graphics. I don't care what anyone says, they look like shit, and Paragon should have been spending all that time at least upgrading and updating the poly count and textures. Seriously, those ancient models need to be replaced. I don't personally care if they don't add more costume locations or change the sliders much past what they can do now, but this entire system of keeping everything looking like it Deus Ex 1 is just piss poor design decisions, especially since so much time was devoted to adding new graphical features such as occlusion, real time shadows and reflections and water. Saying it would be impossible or it can't be done is just one big ass lying bullshit excuse, especially considering the new textures and costume bits and character models in the game, not to mention Mythic has proven that wrong already.

That being said, let's get to the heart of what is on my mind concerning City of Heroes, and actually it has to do realistically with City of Villains. Technically, City of Villains doesn't exist anymore, no matter what anyone says. It's currently occupying the afterthought sweepstakes spot behind City of Heroes. And despite any attempt to the contrary to say it, City of Villains actually gets as little recognition in any ads and updates as possible. Ironic considering the alignment system they aped hardcore during the Going Rogue hype train. But then again, like I said back then, I personally feel Paragon/NCSoft would get rid of City of Villains and just make them extended hero zones if they think they can get away with it.

At one time this side of the game use to actually receive some merit, but because things didn't start out like they planned, instead of actually trying to hype up that side of the game and improve upon it, they instead let it rot. Anything new that was added to City of Heroes the villain side was not allowed to actually partake in or, were just tag a long's in the overall story arc. This resulted in a lot of pissed off players and ironically the few times villains did receive anything the hero side of everything threw a basic temper tantrum saying how it was unfair, but considering how little villains actually received for the most part told us to deal with it or roll heroes.

However, that's the past and the current game is the current game but there is still a lot of things that Paragon should have done and fixed in the game as it stands today but evidently they refuse to. Namely the utter lack of game content villain side. Now, you will undoubtedly have the jackass mentality that states you can swap sides at your leisure but some people do not want to do that. It falls on the same coals as the argument to find another game from the dick heads over in Champions that are afraid of team style game play.

Many solutions have been presented and honestly, it astounds me that they still have ignored it even to this day. When the revamped Faultline zone was introduced into City of Heroes, Paragon miss-stepped so hard that they fell through the ground. This zone was perfect in setting up a competitive PvE environment and many people agreed with that, except for the asshats who felt that it would ruin their immersion which they could never honestly give one legitimate reason to actually back up on.

There were many ways to handle such things to give villains more content without having o invent new zones, it just boils down to the fact that the devs were lazy and rather listen to the minority instead of actually making the underdeveloped game side actually be competitive, content wise. Even to this day City of Villains has a glaring lack of content, and things like the Shadow Shard, the Warzones, and Faultline should have been opened up to them, but for whatever reason was decided they shouldn't.

It's one of those Greek style tragedies and of course Paragon probably trying to just sweep the entire affair under the rug. The fact they aped alignment shifting in Going Rogue seems to be their laughingly pathetic excuse to rectify the actual problem to.

In the end a lot should have been done. City of Heroes still suffers from the fact it caters too much to one faction and it shocks me when things are actually done in favor of villains. In fact, there is an actual bit of displeasure, from what I have been reading, that villains have actually been getting the benefit of the new story arc in the game. Rather impresses me. Even to the point that I've also heard that it's a boggle that some heroes even debate going villain side to get patron powers. But honestly, it really isn't even that much of a choice since going villain side is a temporary thing and can be rectified after only a few days.

There's a lot that needs to be changed in City of Heroes, honestly. But I doubt much will for a while, if at all. The games dated even if some people try to hold on like it's the best thing evar to happen.

October 13, 2011

Reviewing Champions Online -- Schizophrenia Incarnate

Edit: I have just read that the F2P for DCUO will be on the 19th of October. So, barring anything unusual (such as the Missing Link actually launching the 18th) I should hopefully have an overview going out a week or so after. I am trying to go into the F2P of DCUO without the meh attitude I got during the beta.

Last time I talked about City of Heroes, and DCUO is still not on the horizon as free to play yet, I decided I am going to talk about Champions Online today. Champions Online is again another game from Cryptic and is actually the IP that City of Heroes was based on. That being said, everything that Cryptic wanted City of Heroes to be is not what Champions Online became. Instead it's just a giant hodge-podge mess of a game that doesn't know what it wants to be in the end, and the hardcore minority players do everything in their power to sabotage any future the game has.

Graphically there isn't much to say about the game. It's one of the best visual experiences out there with only a few minor quibbles here and there and perhaps the most robust and detailed character editor/costume creator you can find on the market (outside of spray painting your shirts in APB). You have a plethora of costume choices, a ton of locations an varieties you can actually edit said locations with many, many different color choices and mish mashes to come up with on top of the ability to control finer details of your character such as arm length, hand size, and many other features that are often over looked in face of generic texture skins.

But one cannot play a game based on Barbie Dress Up and outside of the awesome character creator, despite all feelings to the contrary, Champions Online offers painfully little to the actual genre that it is suppose to be appealing to. This is a glaring weakness that overpowers the sun and will immediately strike anyone in the face as soon as they enter into the world itself.

I have to say, Champions Online is a game trying too hard. They are trying to do so much to appease everyone and focus on the small group of vocalists they have forgotten they are trying to make a game that appeals to a much larger crowd and not the lowest common denominator minority group. They've appealed to the weakest link so much it's filled into the game as a whole, and the result is the game keeps losing the interest of the very people they keep trying to appease because they listened too much to them.

Champions Online is a game with too much going on and too little content. That's hard to quantify, but basically there is a thing that is too much of something but not enough. Champions has no endgame content, and again, like with City of Heroes, offers a ton of starter content but the middle and ending of it suffers all in favor of the alters who can't be bothered to play a character longer than 5 minutes until they make a new one.

The powers system itself is an abysmal mess as well, where there is no clear cut definition to help characters, and the one thing this system is crying for is constantly denied at every avenue to have it implemented. In this case dual power builds. The powers system in Champions is, to put it mildly, schizophrenic, it suffers from bloat but offers no clear, concise path to how a hero should be built. Powers are little more than a hodge-podge, at best, and while powers can be chained together, even if wildly different, there is little that actually synergizes. About the only real option you have is building a tank mage, as support characters are pretty much non-existant in this mess and any attempt to do so will be met with derision from the masses if you even dare suggest making the roles stronger.

In fact the entire set up is just bad. In comics and stories, heroes are a combination of things, but Champions took the route of listening to a select group of people and instead of sticking to their guns and actually putting some control in, allowed them to dictate that characters should be able to pick and get everything. Sorry, this is not how super heroes are actually created. Super heroes have their combat skill, or lack thereof, their powers, then they have a signature ability or abilities that define them. Sometimes two or three of these parts are all the same but that is always constant.

The powers system has to be one of the worst things about Champions. Because of how it works, people are forced into specific powers regardless of desire or intent, if you are freeform. Even if you had a concept build or something trying to stick with that build will be met with disdain and contempt from fellow gamers who spend most of their time meta gaming and basically doing everything they can to build the ultimate build, regardless of final intent of the user to actually have a character that might actually fit these powers and abilities. It's not so much build the hero you want as it is build a schizophrenic character that has no clue what they are.

Content here is lacking as well. Following the dogged WoW model of go to contact and get the dude smack down quota system, there is little that actually challenges many except the most inept of builds or players. While some will contest that heroes should be unstoppable, this is not what makes a hero. A hero and a badass are not just unstoppable forces that can finger flick things out of the way. A hero and or badass is defined by someone who can fight against the odds, rise to the challenge and overcome them through their tenacity, injuries and sheer intelligence. A character who can do everything, destroy everything or be unhurt by anything is not a badass or hero, they are a boring character, and this is the crux of another problem with Champions.

Champions is a boring game because there is no challenge. It's all single player style, and anyone who says that is a good thing doesn't deserve to play MMOs and should go back to their single player games. MMOs are defined as games where people join together to do things and be a community about them. This decided take from the idiot minority in Champions that heroes should never break a sweat against anything or never team up is both stupid and yet another thing that is killing the game.

When there is no challenge no one wants to stick around for an encore of the same thing and this is yet another problem with Champions; everything is handed on a silver platter. Any reward you want you can practically get without effort. This is terrible design decision because it bores people further and makes them not want to play because they have nothing to work for. This is something the lowest common denominator minority can't get through their thick skulls. They think people love this game style yet everyday you can see the numbers dwindling out of each of the zones. People want to feel they earned something and if it's handed on a silver platter where minimal effort is required, even on the most difficult setting, then this is terrible design decision

And that brings up the community. This is something I didn't touch on with City of Heroes, because it slipped my mind. However, to put a small blurb in, despite how dated that game is, the community is still top notch. There are the asshats, as expected, but for the most part people are genuinely trying to help other people or create events or just trying to be friendly.

Not so in Champions. Oh, regardless of how some people try to claim, Champions has one of the most egotistical communities out there. The forums are rife with it despite anyone's claims to the contrary and the if you aren't playing someone else's way, no matter how much they call freedom of choice and such, they will shoot you down. And if you even bring up endgame and raid content in those forums, or even in game, you will be met by the same people trying to tell you to go play some other game. It's the same attitude that games like WoW have, and the sad part is they try to sit there and say they are the superior community.

Overall, Champions Online is the victim of a lot of expectations that were never met. The super hero expectations were never met, the better City of Heroes expectations were never met, and the large world of Champions IP was never really met. There was a magic point in the beta where things were almost perfect, but then Cryptic started listening to a group of loudmouths to implement specific features. And as those features got added more people quit.

In the end, Champions is promising a lot for its future, but it has to get over the hurdle of listening too much to the minority there. The game has suffered for it and its constantly in an imbalanced state. The freeform combat system is nice and all, but you never feel challenged. Cryptic is stating that the level cap will be going up to 45 then 50 and endgame will be added, but somehow, considering they thought UNITY was suppose to be endgame, I have serious doubts about it.

DCUO will hopefully hit F2P soon. Honestly, I think they have the right ideas just poor implementation, and of course too few actual super powers. I guess I will see what the last 10 months have done for DCUO when I actually get into the F2P.

October 2, 2011

Reviewing City of Heroes: Freedom -- Nostalgic trip, does it hold up?

One thing I have been sitting here and thinking about is all the games I have played. I've been wanting to do a compare and contrast, so in this case I will do City of Heroes versus Champions Online in a mild sense. I wanted to actually put DC Universe Online in the mix, but since the F2P isn't out just yet, I guess I will actually write about that later and probably put in some points in its own little article to try and give some comparisons between each of the games.

Anyways, CoH just recently went F2P. In short, the entire model is a copy and paste of the model that Cryptic developed for CO, but with a few modifications here and there, and a hell of a lot looser morals. But, that is something to cover as I go over a bit more later. Over all, they put a few things in that actually was sound, logically, but there are many other things to complain about because they basically took what should be standard services and told people tough shit, buy it.

My character using older
textures. Just taken
the day of this blog,
and the art everyone uses,
unless they buy costumes.
Now, what got me to go ahead and go back and check out 'City of' was just simple nostalgia, and honestly that is the only reason anyone could actually go back. I know many say it's just preference for this or that, but honestly, those people are going to hell for lying because as great as 'City of' was in its time, the game has not aged well, and one could even argue that it was dated before it even launched. In fact the compare and contrast is so bad that the so called Ultra Mode that 'City of' has actually makes the graphics look worse when they are turned on instead of better. Yes, I am saying it may be better to play the game with modern graphic features like occlusion, real time shadows and the like off, because 'City of' actually looks worse with the effects on.

This isn't helped by the fact that graphically, all the new stuff is a higher resolution texture slapped on the ancient, super low polygon character models. This creates some rather jarring contrasts between body and new features like new head types and such. It's almost painful to put new costume pieces on characters with these ancient character models. This is where me being spoiled by actually being able to create a realistic looking body comes in, because in CoH the body proportion distortion is just painfully obvious. Even the shortest legs are too long for the average female, and this is just my mind trying to ignore the facts that characters have mitten hands (ie no fingers) and boxed feet (no toes); two things I am definitely spoiled for, from Champions.

But I digress, you can't just rate a game on pure graphics alone, even though graphics can be a number one reason why you end up stop playing. Seriously, I can compare 'City of' graphically to Deus Ex one (yes, the first game) and graphically they would be similar in many respects, with very little to differentiate either of them. So, to cut to the end on graphics, they look like pure ass. Again, people will say it's just preference or style or what have you, but seriously no. The graphics look like ass, and ironically, compared to Champions, look more cartoony (which is hilarious since many complaints I heard from people before was Champions had cartoony graphics). So easily Champions is definitely the better game graphically. Hell even the animations tend to piss me off in 'City of' with either very sloppy animations, or animations that look half done. The female walk, the typical style male fantasy female runway walk has a jarring and rather disgusting ability to move the female spine in such a way that her lower back actually seems to be physically disconnecting from their upper chest. And the special dances (you have to buy) I don't even want to get on those on just how poorly animated they are.

Now, next on the list I would have to say the UI. There are things I would take away from this UI in a heartbeat honestly. Namely the split chat box and the ability to have more than one chat box. But after I consider that, there is actually very little else I would want. Seriously, the UI is actually slow and clunky, as typing doesn't update in real time. The game actually produces and audible beep for each character you input when typing, and it's roughly a half second from button push to actual character popping in the UI. Considering how fast I can type, I've actually had to slow down in many cases because I would actually type faster than the UI could register, which would have the downside of actually producing, what I call, the multiple window explosion syndrome, where specific bound default keys open up various windows whether you wanted them or not. Now, for slow typer's, that's not a bad thing, but for people that actually learned to type and don't hunt and peck, that's a bit of a detrimental thing.

Now what follows is controls, over all the controls are solid, albeit programmed in that kind of turn based combat system. Now some people might not understand this idea. But what it basically means that actions have to sort of follow a bit of strict rules. It's not going to be easy to explain so I might as well get into the heart of the combat system. 'City of' combat is very strictly turn based. That means it follows the ancient global cool down and everything has a certain attack period and fire time. Nothing else can happen while X is going on and any attempt to change that gets met with the system telling you to basically piss off. If you are used to games where combat is more free flowing and you can cancel an action or chain various attacks together, you are going to find this type of system painfully slow and clunky and, at many times, boring as hell.

Mother Mayhem: High
Resolution texture model
added recently. Mostly,
reserved for new NPCs or
new costume packs.
Now, onto the powers in each. Granted at first glance 'City of' actually has a ton of powers, until you actually stop being a twit and actually start reading and looking. Then you realize a lot of powers are copy and paste of each other rearranged with very little to differentiate them from one set to another. Almost all the fire melee sets are the exact same with little to change up, and might even share a few powers with the ranged fire powers. Now, 'City of' still probably has the edge in the sheer number of variety powers, however, but people always try to say the game has a ton of powers, but you can probably cut that ton in half because at least half the sets are copy and pastes.

There is variety there but a lot of the set pieces are starting to repeat themselves. On top of that, as far as the power system is set up, the entire power system is based on a system of chain attacks, IE you go down from one attack to the next to the next. In short, instead of being able to just keep attacking, you use what amounts to filler attacks while you wait for the cool down on each effect to end. I guess some people like that type of combat, but overall I find it clunky in the end. I am use to active combat that when I push a button I expect the effect to happen and if I am fighting I can actually defend myself. There are some things I liked about certain powers and such but overall system is just too damn slow and really doesn't espouse the heroic defender of justice feel that some people might be looking for when it concerns combat.

Now, here is probably going to be the clincher for a lot of people; content. Now, 'City of' has several years worth of content. And, just looking at it from the outside, that's a lot of content. However, here's the problem with the content; You go to a contact, get a mission, usually with flavor text sometimes in an attempt to be in a story, go to an instance and fight group of mobs to complete the mission or reach a specific objective. Sounds simple and basic and pretty standard. Except this is the same model used for almost every mission you enter. There is very little to differentiate one mission from another, except maybe the wallpaper, which there is painfully obvious few actual varieties of.

It's almost the same with every enemy group as well. Depending on how much "challenge" you give yourself, you fight the same group of mobs with different skins and sometimes different powers, but overall the same set up. Two groups will be at +1 level to you by default in an attempt to give added challenge to an otherwise mundane instance and early on it can be but once you hit 20 that should not even be a worry for whatever character you create.

My character from Champions
dressed similarly, with a few
extra options and not utilizing
all costume spots.
To side track myself, that brings up another point. I actually stopped in to do the tutorial for this, and to be blunt, this tutorial was obviously an afterthought or incredibly rushed. The map made me think of the Shadow Shard a couple of floating islands, but that wasn't supposed to be how it feels but that was exactly how it felt. The entire Galaxy City was wiped out (technically not since you can go to its Echo) and the entire tutorial has you doing things that you will never do in the game unless you are a subscriber and you get to endgame. In fact it has the Open Mission set up in the tutorial (that only appears in Praetoria) with a boss fight (a type you only encounter in a incarnate trial). The end result is a bunch of crap you never actually get to play with unless you subscribe which is kind of a jarring kick in the teeth of free to play accounts, in my opinion. I won't say Champions tutorial is a bed of roses, in fact I think it needs more work, but overall the tutorial in 'City of' is just one jarring rushed mess. At no point do you feel like you are in a crumbling city.

But that brings me to endgame. This, again is a sticking point because only people that pay a subscription actually get to participate in this. Endgame is alright, part of me does like how it's set up. I do like they finally added raids and there are things and objectives to earn and such along the way. But, they are set up in a way that organization is not a top priority. That's not a completely bad thing, mind you, but I can't say it's all good. On top of that, the incarnate system, if someone really wanted to, they could get the top tier in all their incarnate powers in less than a month. IE less than a subscription time. Now it takes work, and I am not completely against that, but I do feel they might have made it too easy.

But then again, that's a lot more endgame than Champions currently has. The lunacy that seems to be infecting some people there over endgame content is just hilarious, especially the people that think it would be unfair that certain content taking raids. Those are, of course, the type of people who either base their claims on hearsay or make up stories about limited time and such due to sob stories of family and three jobs and the like. To which I ask, then what the hell are you doing worry about an internet game? Regardless, hopefully Champions will be bringing an endgame and stop catering to the lowest common denominator that thinks everything needs to be soloable. Time to grow up people.

So, here comes my round-a-bout to the Paragon store. I said earlier I do like how the store was set up to do certain things like buying individual pieces for costumes instead of whole things, but then I looked deeper and further, many basic services, like a height slider cost $15 bucks to buy (a feature that was offered as part of the science costume pack expansion that gave emotes, costume pieces, costume change emotes, a power and the slider for $10). That is a ludicrous price. And the next thing that burns my bacon and made me stop caring the minute I saw it, Parago/NCSoft completely reneged on their promise to never have pay2win items in their store. And sure enough, pay2win enhancements are there.

The costs of many things are just out of whack. If you look at just costumes, you think you are getting a damn good bargain, especially when looking at costumes from CO since those come in bundles (currently). But then you add up the price for each piece (and mind you CoH doesn't even have half as many costume locations as Champions does) then costume sets start becoming more expensive. On top of that, the special powers like travel powers and such (which can't even be upgraded either) cost more than travel powers or archetypes (if you are silver) in the CO store. In the end, I just find the CoH store to be one big rip off compared to the CO store.

In the end, the only reason I've decided to even bother logging into CoH now is just to visit friends. The game play wears thin very fast after a few hours, and the store leaves an extremely bad taste in your mouth, especially when applying the newer high resolution items on the outdated, ugly, low poly, low resolution character models. Add in poor proportioning and the fact I am spoiled by a costume editor that is nearly triple the depth of CoH in choice and positioning, and freedom on what to do, from sliders to personal settings and costume spots, not to mention ass graphics and slow game play, it's hard to actually get into it seriously for any length of time. Some people will always say that will be preference, but realistically, that's just nostalgia. There are things I would want from 'City of' implemented in Champions, but in the end I prefer Champions over all, the game play is more solid and the game doesn't actually look like so much ass that you laugh at how jagged a statue looks from across the city.