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Champions Online Preview

Nick Tan
PLAYERS 1- 999 
DEVELOPER Cryptic Studios 
T Contains Blood, Fantasy Violence, Suggestive Themes

What do these ratings mean?

The JLA can suck it!

In a world where the streets are no longer safe for the common man, where justice is shrouded by darkness, when the danger is inescapable and all hope is lost, there is…you. Champions Online, the upcoming MMO from Cryptic Studios, is going to take you out of your shoes and put you into some knee-high latex boots, for some serious hero-on villain RPG action, combining their own love of comics with a cavalcade of customizable features and an intriguing game world into an epic and enthralling superhero experience.

click to enlargeIn the universe of Champions Online, all things are possible and nothing reflects this more than your custom avatar. You can go for the classic DC/Marvel type hero with the huge muscles and tights and dyed underoos on the outside of their pants, or opt for something a little less, shall we say, traditional like a giant behemoth of a monster with an ostrich head, laser eyes, and the ability to fly. They even went as far as to include luchador costume sets just because fans demanded it. They’re also working out a system that will allow multiple players to have the same screen name, as I’m sure there are going to be a lot of folks out there trying to steal my million-dollar Ostrich Man idea.

Once you’ve got the look of your hero down, the next step is to choose their powers. You’ll be given a list of pre-made ability sets, such as telepathy or elemental control, but that doesn’t mean you can’t mix it up. They’re mostly there for the people who want to jump straight into the action or don’t have much experience in selecting a tactically beneficial powers set. For those who like more of a potpourri of skills, you will be able to go in and set your skill roster to something that reflects your own personality more. (But no one can stop the flaming, laser-eyed Ostrich Man!)

click to enlargeThe customization doesn’t stop at your character, either. Oh no. Because what kind of hero would anyone be without an arch-nemesis trying to destroy the world at every turn? (Answer: A very lame one who didn’t sell many comics because all he did all day was sit around waiting for the Ostrich phone to ring.) To solve this crisis, Champions Online will give you the opportunity to create the perfect villain to complement your crime fighter. Options for creating the felon who you’ll grow to love to hate, look to have just as much depth as those for creating champions. You even get to pick the henchmen! (I am so going to make the Monarch’s henchmen from The Venture Bros.)

Once you’ve created the perfect setting for your graphic novel world, it’s time to save it. You'll face a slew of ne'er-do-wells alongside fellow online crime fighters and NPCs in a plot-driven comic book world. Eventually, you’ll get a chance to take on your enemy in what are being referred to as “showdown maps”. Basically, they look to be giant, evil lairs full of traps, henchmen, and lesser supervillains who will get in your way along the path to the ultimate showdown with your arch-nemesis. As you venture through and defeat all those who stand in your way, you’ll rescue heroes who will aid you on your quest and help you take down the forces of tyranny and its giant robots (yes, you get to fight giant robots).

click to enlargeAside from the story-driven elements, there will also be a multitude of PvP options, including both 1-on-1 and team arena battles that play out like the craziest sumo matches you’ve ever seen. When a player’s health runs out or a player is forced out of the arena, the match ends. You may end up with some cool items as well, as there will be rewards available only in these multiplayer modes. Don’t worry, though, no one’s going to take your stuff, as prizes will be randomly generated and dropped after the fact. Matches will occur in sanctioned, “televised” events that happen within the City’s arena as well as in unsanctioned “Bash” brawls, which take place in unsavory Westside ghettos, where all the thugs and homies hang out and sell dope to school kids (sorry, no drug dealers in this game).

On top of all these variations, there will also be gigantically epic, apocalyptic events. Think of this as the MMORPG equivalent of the giant super-hero crossover books, like Infinite Crisis or Civil War, except you're kicking ass with characters who aren't from some copyrighted, trademarked group of DC or Marvel. The early map shown was the Stronghold, which is basically a giant indoor maze with turret-mounted lasers and gangs of crooks lurking around every turn.

Combat control lis based off the standard command set that veteran MMO players should have no problems adjusting to. You’ll charge up bolts of lightning or fire arrows from across corridors at your enemies. Depending on what type of a hero you are, you get a chance to fly, run on walls, or burrow underground for extra speed boosts or for trying to get the drop on your opponent from behind. Whether you want to be a gritty detective with a painful past, an abandoned alien orphan with inhuman powers, or a dude with an Ostrich face in a cape and bright purple tights, Champions Online is looking to provide you with all your superhero and supervillain needs.

Look for it to hit the PC on Sept. 1st and an Xbox 360 version at a later date to be announced.

More GR previews for this game:
Champions Online preview posted on 08/12/09.

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