Shamus Plays

Shamus Plays: Champions Online, Part 2

Shamus Young | 21 Jul 2010 13:00
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When we last left our hero (that would be me) I had just crawled out of a pile of rubble during an alien invasion. The city was in danger, the people needed me, and I couldn't reach my publicist. I've just been sent to speak with the Chief of Police and see if he needs any help in his not-being-conquered-by-aliens project. I don't get the ability to fly until I leave the tutorial area, which means I must jog as heroically as possible down the street.

I don't like where my career is headed so far, as I seem to be moving down the chain of command. At level 1 I was working for the self-aware super-intelligence of the city. At level 2 I was working for the Mayor, and heading into level 3 I'm working for the Chief of Police. If this trend continues I'll be the world's most powerful assistant meter-maid by level 10.

Getting to the Chief of Police means going through waves of enemy bugs, some ambushing fliers, and a minefield. This sounds bad, but the truth is that under normal, non-alien-invasion circumstances, this section of the city is home to groups of level 28-ish criminals who are so bloodthirsty they will attack groups of superheroes. On sight. But right now it's just overrun with simple level 1 and 2 bugmen. Despite the wreckage, this is actually the safest this part of the city has ever been.

I elbow my way through the enemy forces and arrive to find the Chief of Police doling out little homework assignments for the never-ending parade of heroes. I run up to him, rip up the nearest street lamp and then stand there holding it over my head. He doesn't comment or take notice at the fact that I've just flagrantly and senselessly vandalized the city right in front of him. This is because about half the people who come to speak to him do exactly the same thing, and he's pretty much used to it by now.

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"Did you... um... order a streetlamp perchance? No? Right. I'll just fling this at the wall then."

Champs Online uses a context-sensitive action key. Use the key on an NPC, and you'll talk to them. Use it on a door, and you'll go through. Use it on a streetlamp, and you'll tear it free and brandish it like a weapon. The problem is that if you've got more than one interactive object nearby, it picks the least appropriate one when you press the key. If you're looking directly at the Chief of Police and invading his personal space, and if there is a streetlamp somewhere behind you and off to the left, then you will, without fail, rip up that streetlamp when you hit the use key.

I have leveled a lot of characters and I've probably done this newbie zone over a dozen times, and the only time I don't make this mistake is when the streetlamp isn't there because someone else beat me to it.

I can't put the streetlamp back, so my only choice is to fling it at the wall and try again.

Then, at long last, I am able to greet the Chief of Police. This act is so momentous that I ascend a level on the spot.

Chief has a few jobs for me, all of which basically boil down to different excuses for killing aliens. I need to kill aliens who are menacing civilians. I also need to kill aliens raiding medical supplies from ambulances. And finally I need to free people from debris. This last job, while not explicitly calling for the deaths of aliens, is pretty much impossible to pull off without fighting the aliens between my heroic self and the rubble-bound citizens.

Right. Before I leave, I survey the area and see if anyone else needs my help. Ah yes:

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A citizen in need. Clayton Griswold has lost his luggage. He was about to go on "the vacation of a lifetime," but then the aliens attacked and he lost his suitcase and an alien took his his passport and some other guys got all his airline tickets and...

This conversation is starting to get a little uncomfortable. Ten feet away a couple of women are bleeding out on the sidewalk, and Clayton here is sobbing about lost airline tickets. I agree to help him just to shut him up.

He claims that he "dropped" the travel stuff, but judging by the number of different aliens I have to pummel to get all of the tickets, I'm pretty sure he handed them out like leaflets. I stride over to a group of bugman nearby and punch them until airline tickets pop out.

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This is the guy who has Clayton's passport? I can't believe I'm killing him for a passport and not because he's invading the city.

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