Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Champions and Ardy

I knew I forgot something. I had a long string of blogging to be doing about Champions. I've stuff yet to come on the Microtransaction bits, MMO bits and so on.

This however is inspired by Werit, Keen and the players of the Shield of Paragon, Guardian Angels and other Coh supergroups.

I don't really like Champions.

That said, I never really did. There are some who greeted the news way back when of a Champions mmo and from their reaction it was though the Lord God himself came down and handed them a dream. Hark how the angels sing, go forth and pwn for justice.
I was unimpressed. Maybe it's a function of those gaps in my geekery that are responsible for me never having played a single Blizzard game (and boy was twitter shocked at that).

That first feeling has carried all the way through closed beta up until now.

First a quick comparison. This time last year I was chomping at the bit to get into Warhammers closed beta. I wanted that game. When I got the CO beta invite, I had forgotten I applied. Most midweek preview sessions ("Hi it's wednesday, log in, test") came when I was busy and the weekend ones rarely stood a chance if there was anything going on in Paragon City.

Champions has delivered a truely impressive Character Creator. But you know what? I'm not going to give them awards for that. Of course they delivered one. They made City of Heroes and its character creator. Delivering anything less than what they left behind in the hands of Paragon Studio would have been staggering idiocy. As much as some people will give it its due with the hours you can spend tweaking to your hearts delight, well... sometimes I just would like to play. It shouldnt take long to get from login to tutorial. When you're being given options to change the size of different parts of a single limb, you've gotten a tad silly in my book.

The variations on the characters get especially pointless when you consider the type of game Champions is. It's supposed to be action packed, quick quick quick, hit the button, build your energy, FINISH HIM! With the amount of sharding they're doing (Keen called it redundant instancing) and the pace of combat they want, I haven't yet seen how the game will have a social centre. Perhaps I'm wrong or more likely I didn't play enough. Champions though feels like a ritalin deprived game. They don't want you standing and spinning stories, they want you out beating the next guy with a tree you ripped out of the ground (which is admittedly cool). Who cares if your biceps ripple ever so slightly and your eyebrows are a certain way and your facial expression is sad. I'm going to notice your size, any bright colours, how you travel/hit and if you run funny. That's it though. The faster the game pushes me, the less time I have to take in what took you three hours and a muse to create when you'd have been just as effective if you hit the random button.

One note on the character creator. City of Heroes players, prepare to recognise many pieces. I don't just mean the art, I mean the names as well. I don't know if Cryptic retained rights to bits and pieces of CoH. For example the game engine (at least according to wiki so take that with a grain of salt) is a modified version of the CoH one.

Moving on, there are bits about Champions I enjoyed. The travel powers all have looked good and add a nice touch, however when you look at them close they're mostly variations on flight and jumping. Still they do look good.

I enjoyed the ability to select from where some powers originate, I liked how quick and easy it was to change power colours (whereas when CoH has it in Issue 16, I predict many trips to Icon). There are plenty of a-okay things about the game, but none of them grabbed me.

There are also plenty of things I hate. In case you hadn't guessed I hate the pacing. It's bad enough that with the instancing I may end up selecting zones to follow friends only to find that they've done a certain mission and ended up in yet another instance where I cannot follow (or at least if there is an easy way to follow, I didnt see it. Im talking about moving from Wartorn tutorial Millenium city to peaceful and from wintery blizzard Canada to regular old Canada, same place different versions).
The game is all go. For some that will work, they want the action and get it quickly. For others, I forsee early burn out.
I hate the cel shading animation, I always have. It's never done anything for me though I will grant it is very true to the comic book feel. I hate the chat system where everyone at all times is reminded of my username. And why is that? Well apparently there wont ever be any naming conflicts. You too can be Superman, because your usename will make it unique. Don't give me the monster of a creation suite you have and then make it so that I wont have my own name in the end.

In the end, I've come out of closed beta the same way I went in, unimpressed. City of Heroes has flaws, I'll happily point them out in a second, but despite that they're working on improving the game with each issue (Ardy hates the AE though). I'd sooner spend a day in Paragon City than Millenium City.

The most damning thing about Champions though? I was worried it would gut City of Heroes.
Every single player I know across several global channels has reacted the same way, "Thanks but no thanks".

Champions, you have one final crippling flaw to me and one shining virtue.
Firstly, you have Jack "Statesman" "Force Field isnt broken" Emmert. I don't trust that man any more and while he appears to be learning from some mistakes, I am not yet convinced.

The virtue though? Every thing you do makes Paragon Studios have to work harder to retain its numbers and suceed. Survival of the fittest. I don't think Champions could kill City of Heroes, but it certainly looks like it could forge its predecessor into something unstoppable.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Now thats a idea! City of Heros/Villans current owners are now under a seirus gun to improve their game, because they no longer have a monopoly.