Shamus Plays

Shamus Plays: Champions Online, Part 6




Now that I’ve defeated the snowstorm, I’m at last free to explore all of Canada, experience its rich cultures, and meet its people. I am so taken with the land that I have decided to share with you what I learned from my time in Champions Online. If you’ve never taken the time to visit America’s neighbor to the north, then you’re in for an educational treat.


After touring the land, I am shocked at how inaccurate the Canadian Wikipedia entry is. I tried to fix some of the more glaring omissions (they don’t even mention the Velociraptors!) but someone keeps reverting my edits. No doubt it’s one of Dr. Destroyer’s minions.

Anyway, after my journey through Canada I thought I’d share a few snapshots of their more famous landmarks and iconic locations:

The United States is so proud of their amusing little Mt. Rushmore, but it’s nothing compared to the size and majesty of Canada’s Skull Mountain:


A Doom Telescope:


Some sort of haunted Tiberium Fields:


Bigfoot Village:


A good portion of Canada is being terraformed by an Alien race called the Gadroon. I know they’re evil because all space aliens are evil unless they’re superheroes, but I have to say I kind of think the Gadroon have made an improvement here:


Here is Canada’s famous haunted glacial rift:


And here is the terrorist oil pipeline / pollution factory:


While you were learning about the great land of Canada, I upgraded my powers.

I took the “regeneration” passive ability. If you find yourself playing the game, for the love of spandex, take this power. When I played, it was hilariously broken at the low and mid-levels. With just a few points in the recovery stat, I could should be able to heal faster than foes damaged me. I’ve been in fights with groups of same-level foes where I was able to simply hold the “block” button and wait for my health to fill all the way back up while the enemy pounded away at me. Whee!


I hope for your sake you didn’t read this.

My first job is to look around just outside of base and recover items from the airliner crash. I need the black box, the passenger manifest, and the pilots log, which apparently… fell out of the plane? I was always under the impression that the black box was, you know, attached or something. I guess Canadian Airlines uses their black box as a doorstop. Whatever. Luckily, the items are all about ten steps outside of base and within twenty feet of each other. And intact.

On the downside, the items are guarded by the Hunter-Patriots, who are the predominant terrorist group in Canada. (Viper, the other major terrorist group, is smaller but better armed and equipped.) Their plans seem to be thus:

1) Groups of dudes in parkas will bury themselves in the snow, right outside of the Steelhead base.
2) When a superhero comes along, they leap out of the snow and attack.
3) They get beat up. Yay good guys.


Out on the frozen lake, I have to fight some more Hunter-Patriots. Here is a commander kneeling on the ice, looking at me through his binoculars from ten feet away. I wonder if he’s using them backwards, “Oh! There’s a superhero, but he’s like, way off in the distance.”

I have to beat up a Hunter-Patriots commander, to get him to tell me about couple of supervillains I’ve passed about a half dozen times so far. Once I beat up the super-villains, they tell me their plans, and then I can go thwart those plans by beating up additional Hunter-Patriots.


Credit where it’s due: One of the super-villains is Lynx, a cat girl. She signed on with the bad guys just because she wanted the cat girl costume / abilities, and then had second thoughts once she saw their plans. She doesn’t really want to join a terrorist group, she just wanted to be a cat girl. I liked this idea. It was humorous without being stupid nonsense, and it manages to do it without simply referencing some other, funnier fiction. I would be so much happier if the game had gone for this style of humor instead of the slapstick goofball stuff it’s usually engaged in.

Back at base, I meet Lt. Fisher. He was out on patrol with his buddies when (and I am not making this up) Mister Zombie attacked and buried Fisher’s squad mates in the snow in an effort to create more zombies. Fisher wants me to go out and rescue his team.

I fly out and dig the soldiers out of the piles of snow just outside of base.

“Mister Zombie” is just the sort of thing I was talking about when I mentioned slapstick goofball writing.

The quest works like this: There are piles of snow. You click on them and wait for the progress bar to fill, after which you’ll either get a zombie or rescue a soldier. The odds of getting a soldier seems to be about 1 in 3. Fighting zombies is kind of time consuming and annoying because of the way the game clears your target when they go down and then begins regenerating their health. You have to defeat them, then stand there for a few seconds and wait for them to fall down, then re-target them and hit them a few more times to finish them off, after which you get such phenomenally low XP that it’s not even remotely worth it.

All of this makes a strong incentive for the player to simply hit & run the snow piles, activating them and then jumping to the next one without even looking to see what pops up. You can clear the mission in about thirty seconds, or you can spend several minutes fighting worthless zombies. This setup isn’t a terrible crime, but it’s disappointing when a game punishes you for playing your character and rewards you for acting in ways that don’t make sense.


Ravenspeaker must have a world-class case of the goosebumps. Beside him is Lt. Fisher, who hangs around base coughing and asking superheroes to do his job.

Defying all expectations, the writers managed to not name the mountie “Dudley.”

Next up, Lt. Fisher hands me a bag of wriggling zombie parts. They need to be “ritually cleansed” to dispel the magic on them. Ravenspeaker set up a summoning circle to the south where you can take zombie parts to cleanse them. For some unfathomable reason, Ravenspeaker placed this circle outside of base. Ravenspeaker is about five feet away and staring into space, but apparently he’s still too busy to make another summoning circle inside of base so that mortals can use it without needing to fight armies of terrorists and zombies to reach the thing.

Disgusted with Ravenspeaker’s laziness, apathy, and lack of pants, I take the bag of zombie bits and fly to the summoning circle.

Before I can use the summoning circle, I have to defeat Mr. Zombie:


Wait. You “live” to kill superheroes? An odd assertion for someone named Mr. Zombie. And does fighting superheroes come up all that often? And while we’re at it: Why are you even talking in the first place?!?


Now it’s time to fight a zombie wearing a tuxedo and a top hat in the Canadian wilderness. Who is named Mr. Zombie. And who talks. I make a slight whimpering sound as I sustain 500 points of self-esteem damage.

So I give Mr. Zombie a few pops in the face. Then a few more. Then a lot more. Then I look up and notice I’ve chipped off about 10% his total health. My self-healing powers allow me to keep up with him, but knocking this zombie apart is apparently a long-term project.

Eventually I manage to bring him down. Afterward, I have to run around and do little magical arm-waving gestures around the summoning circle. Then a spirit wolf appears. Then I speak with him, and he nods his head to cleanse the zombie bits.

None of the other zombies I’ve killed have needed this treatment. And I didn’t need to drag Mr. Zombie over here for some cleansing. I don’t know. It’s all very confusing.

There’s a line of heroes behind me, each with their own bag of zombie bits, each needing to have their turn with the wolf. But they can’t just talk to the wolf that I summoned. They have to stand around and wait a minute or two for the now-useless wolf to disappear. As an added bonus, it’s possible for someone to let you activate the first four totems around the circle, and then they will swoop in and activate the final one, thus securing the wolf for themselves. Then you have to wait a couple of minutes. And during that time Mr. Zombie will respawn and you might end up fighting him again.

Yes, I know things were so much worse back in the Everquest days and this sort of thing used to be the norm, but that’s no reason to celebrate this mess. A few very minor tweaks is all it would take to clear up this traffic jam and let everyone get back to their fun without all the headaches.

Now I have a quest to go to the site of the airplane crash and, if I understand the directions, beat up even more Hunter-Patriots in search of their secret plans. Sure enough, they are swarming the downed aircraft. I don’t understand the strategic value of a wrecked civilian aircraft, but here they are.

I work my way around the site, beating up terrorists and collecting the occasional plans. The Hunter-Patriots have five different schemes they’re working on. I don’t know what their goals are, since having goals would involve characters with coherent motivations, but at least we now have a picture of how they want to go about attaining their goals, whatever they are. Here are the plans of Canada’s most dangerous terrorist organization:

1. Bomb-laden Zambonis
2. Maple-powered Death Ray
3. Questonite curling stone cannons
4. Radioactive Loonie coins
5. Nanite-infused Poutine Gravy

Some people have trouble telling which parts of this SP are part of the game and which bits I made up. A general rule of thumb is this:

1) If it’s something silly about my character, then I made it up.
2) If it’s something face-slappingly apeshit loco stupid crazy, then it’s part of the game.

In case you still doubt, I offer this screenshot:


And you thought I was kidding. Don’t you feel silly now? Still, I bet you don’t feel half as silly as I do, since I’m the one playing this thing.

Next Time: More Canada! Because fighting in the snowy wastes is what being a superhero is all about!

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