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.

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