Review: Champions Online

John Funk | 10 Sep 2009 09:00
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That seems like a perfect metaphor for Champions Online in its entirety, actually. There is so much customization and flexibility under the hood that the people who want to dive right in and devour it all up can certainly do it. You can create your perfect superhero, with three powers from Telekinesis, and one power from Gadgeteering, who has the perfect mix of perks and everything, but ... it really does feel overwhelming and intimidating, so people who are just looking to dip into the universe may actually be driven away. By the time I hit level 10 I had already acquired a full set of equipment, and wasn't actually sure what some of it did ("Power Replace? What's that mean?).

It's really a shame that the game feels so overwhelming, because there are some really awesome ideas here under the hood. The character creation is phenomenal - this cannot be overstated - and the quest system is refined and painless, if not groundbreaking. The Nemesis idea, allowing players to create their own supervillain who will interrupt their questing, is a superb idea and one that they rightly deserve credit for. Even the fluff and presentation of Champions is nicely done in its own right, with just the right amount of tongue-in-cheek silliness (such as an item that advertises itself like being "like lightning is injected into your veins, and the lightning is on fire.")

I really want to love Champions Online, because the ideas are so impressive. But at the moment, it feels slightly like being thrown into an incredibly deep ocean without being told how to swim. Of course, this is only the launch, and every MMOG ever made feels rough at launch. There is certainly the potential under the hood for Champions to be really legitimately awesome once it settles down and works out the kinks, and - as with any review of any MMOG - it really is too early to call.

Champions really is a game where you get out of it what you put into it. Superhero aficionados will probably like it, but would-be dabblers might be better off waiting until the kinks are ironed out of the system.

Bottom Line: Incredible depth and customization. Like, to an absolutely ridiculous extent. The cel-shaded graphics look nice enough, and it's pretty fun to be swinging your way through some nifty environments as your superhero of choice. Unfortunately, if you don't plan on diving headfirst into the game, it can be hard to get into. Great sense of humor, though.

Recommendation: Superhero fans should probably get a kick out of it, and the character creator is unparalleled, but everyone else might want to give Champions Online a few months to grow up a bit.

John Funk thinks that more games should feature evil patriotic Canadians as villains.

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