Shamus Plays

Shamus Plays: Champions Online, Part 4

Shamus Young | 4 Aug 2010 13:00
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If you remember from our previous thrill-packed episode, some generic bug aliens had invaded Earth and then I pressed the buttons to make them stop attacking us. Then I pressed another button to make our huge gun shoot a superhero at the alien mothership. Now I'm at the celebration where everyone is congratulating me on my superheroic button-pushing skills. I've saved the city, and must therefore leave before someone asks me to help clean up.

I am offered a choice: I can go to "the Southwest Desert" or "Canada." Both places are in peril, and need someone to un-imperil them. From the hints everyone is dropping, it sounds like they hope it will be me. The young and sexy Witchcraft invites me to the desert, and the freakishly goofy-looking Ravenspeaker invites me to Canada.

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Is this a trick question?

Sigh, I'm sorry Ravenspeaker, but I'm an American superhero through and through. I can't travel to distant lands while my own shores are in danger. Good luck with whatever you've got going there in whatever country you're from, but my people need me. Off to the hot babe! I mean the South West! Of AMERICA!

How the game works right now is that once you're done [taking credit for] saving the city, you move on to one of the two available crisis zones, which act as secondary tutorial zones. The alien attack teaches you the basics, and the second area teaches stuff like crafting, teaming, and multi-stage missions. The two crisis zones play very differently, but teach basically the same concepts and cover character levels 6 through 10. At the end of the crisis is a boss fight, after which the gameworld will be open to explore freely.

It's worth trying one crisis zone with your first character and the other with the second to see which one you prefer.

I arrive in Burning Sands, a broken land of scorched desert rocks and serpentine canyons. A land where a military base is under attack from irradiated monsters and vile mutants. A place awash in poisonous radioactive energy. Grotesque mutations pour out of the hills, assaulting the base and terrorizing the science staff.

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Woah! Hang on a second here, tiny-jaw. Radiation? Like, nuclear radiation? Like the kind you can't see but which scrambles your DNA and gives you cancer? I am not crazy about this whole radiation business.

Bullets? I laugh at them. Missiles? Not a problem. Assorted death beams? Naught but a nuisance to a mighty hero like me. But radiation? Ew. You see, someday really I hope to meet my soulmate. Let's call her Star On Bosom. We'll marry and have little starlings and starlets of our own. And it is my fond hope as both a superhero and a father they will all have the correct number of heads. So I'm not keen on this whole "fighting to save an irradiated base" idea. Can't we just write it off and build another someplace else? I would imagine one godforsaken canyon is about as good as another. The desert is pretty big, you know.

And speaking of bosoms, where the heck is Witchcraft? This is supposedly her territory, but she isn't anywhere to be found. I thought she... you know... wanted me. To help.

And just between you and me, there is something about this place that's even more awful than mutated offspring, which is a needlessly aggravating layout. The base here was built by an idiot sadist. Here in Project Greenskin* there is a loading screen between the quest givers and the things they need me to punch. It's just a couple of seconds, but it's really, really annoying. I click on an elevator, and a little "please wait" progress bar fills up. If some low-level slob of a mutant elbows me, the process stops and I have to fight him. Once I get through the elevator, there's a needless hike past twenty useless NPCs to get to the one I have to talk to, then a hike back to the elevator, progress bar, loading screen, etc. One of the perks of being a superhero is that you don't normally have to waste time waiting for and riding in elevators.

* Yes, they actually named this place "Project Greenskin." That's like naming a base "Alien Snack Headquarters" and then being surprised when aliens show up and start eating people.

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