DC Universe Online PlayStation 3
Published by Sony Online Entertainment
Developed by WBIE
The idea of an MMO game based on the DC Comics’ licence, and its mighty repertoire of superheroes and super villains, is sure to be very appealing for a lot of people out there. Whilst the game is an RPG, it’s definitely a light RPG with a strong emphasis on combat and very little on exploration and the other trappings of an RPG. Whilst this may deter hard-core RPG enthusiasts, it's sure to appeal to those who want a more action oriented and streamlined MMO experience. This review looks at the PlayStation 3 version of the game.
In DC Universe Online you'll choose to play as a hero or villain playing in either the city of Metropolis or Gotham. You'll choose to play in one of four game worlds (two each for PvP and PvE). You'll choose the gender of your character and then choose a hero or villain to base them on. You can select between various movement types (flight, acrobatics or super-speed), weapon type, power type (elemental, gadgets, mental etc.), choose a mentor and personality type. This may seem like you're given a lot of customisation options but actually the options are rather limited compared to other MMO's that I've experienced. Thankfully, as the game progresses, you will be able to obtain new gear that helps you to personalise your character to a greater extent.
When you're done with the character creation you're taken through a tutorial that does a good job of introducing you to the nuances of the game's combat. It also makes it crystal clear that DC Universe Online is essentially an action game above all else. To its credit the combat is fairly enjoyable if a little simplistic. As the game progresses you'll obtain more combos to improve your fighting prowess and additional power. However, the combat never feels anything other than straightforward which most will regard as a good thing. The enemy targeting could be improved however, as you can only auto-target enemies and there are times when you'd really like to be able to target a specific enemy only for the auto-target feature to select an alternate enemy.
DC Universe Online comes with a 30 days subscription (after which you'll have to pay £9.99 per month to continue playing). Whilst that's pretty much standard for an MMO, there's a fair chance you'll have seen most of what the game has to offer in those 30 days and probably won't feel the need to persevere with the game. That's not to say you will have seen everything the game has to offer during those 30 days but it's likely that the game's action will feel repetitive far sooner than most would anticipate. The 'go here and kill a specific number of' or 'collect a certain number of' nature of the missions does begin to get old far too soon. It's good to see the main DC characters included in the action, albeit far too infrequently, but they don't do a lot to mask the repetitive nature of the game. In the game's favour however, you will reach the level cap (currently 30) pretty quickly and there's still a lot to do once you reach that stage such as the 2-player dungeons which have some nice rewards on offer. It's just a shame the action in the game isn't more varied as you'll tire of the nature of the missions that are repeatedly thrown your way.
The PlayStation 3 version looks OK although it's far from being a game that shows off the graphical muscle of the console. Character models and animations look fine but it's the lack of anti-aliasing and the abundance of clipping issues that are the real eyesores here. Unusually for an MMO, there are some impressive comic book style cut scenes and these manage to capture the feel of the DC universe rather well. Even with an installation of 15GB (which includes the initial game install and some rather large updates) you'll still have to endure load times although, thankfully, most are acceptable. The game's general frame rate isn't too bad, although there is some slowdown here, the lag experienced when bringing up the menus is intolerable and really needs sorting out.
Whilst DC Universe Online isn't a bad experience for deaf gamers, it's far from being an ideal one. The game's cut scenes aren't subtitled which is unfortunate. Most of the dialogue from NPC’s isn't subtitled which is a shame as there is a lot of speech in the game. All tutorial information is shown in text. Mission objectives are shown in text and the game provides plenty of feedback via text, numbers and icons. For instance, there's an icon to show you when an enemy is preparing a powerful attack which gives you an opportunity to take evasive action. In short then, the game could have been much better for deaf gamers.
It's difficult to review an MMO game because, unlike other games, you know you are dealing with a work in progress and in theory the game should continuously be in the process of being improved. DC Universe Online certainly has its issues but it's a fairly enjoyable experience, even at this early stage in the game's life. Those looking for an in-depth RPG will be disappointed but the strong focus on action will give the game wider appeal and does make the game easy to gets to grips with. There are big question marks over the game's longevity but, these are only questions that can be answered in the months and years to come.