Shamus Plays

Shamus Plays: Champions Online, Part 9



Ah Millennium City! At last, I can start to feel like a superhero. Hopefully my time in Canada won’t have any lasting effects on me. Before we get started and make a mess of the city, let’s take the tour, eh?

Remember that Millennium City used to be Detroit. It was destroyed by Dr. Destroyer, and when they rebuilt the city they renamed it as well. I guess in the process of renaming it they also added 200 foot tall sheer vertical cliffs?


I don’t know how long it would take to get enough mass to lift an entire city 200 feet, but I’m betting it took a while. You’d probably need to do more than just put up one of those “clean fill wanted” signs.

As with Snake Gulch, here we have the game designers adding walls that make no sense and make the place harder to navigate. Some nice rolling hills or gentle elevation shifts would be fine. They would offer a little variety, at least. But aside from the preposterous cliff (don’t forget Detroit is near the Great Lakes – it is flat out there) the city is perfectly level.

Why would you do this? Why set it in Detroit if you want a cliff? Why put in a cliff if you want to set it in Detroit? That’s like setting the game in New York, except at the top of a mountain and hundreds of miles from the ocean. The only reason to use real-world locations is to add a bit of verisimilitude, which was obviously not a priority for anyone involved with this project. Just make up your own city if you want to make clifftown so bad.

“But this game is based on the Pen & Paper setting!”

I don’t see how that makes any difference. You can’t excuse lazy nonsense by simply saying that you’re just perpetuating someone else’s lazy nonsense. (And I strongly suspect the cliffs aren’t part of the P&P setting.)

Thankfully I have the gift of flight, so the cliffs are of no concern to me.

Sadly, some parts of the city have not yet been rebuilt.


Next we have the renaissance center, a circle of massive sky needles. I know I made a big deal earlier when I was joking about about the taxpayers and asking about who pays for all the superhero stuff. Some people thought maybe I was making a big deal out of nothing. Maybe this will help explain what I’m getting at:


The city center has these stratosphere-poking towers that dwarf even the tallest buildings in the city. The best is the one that has a convention-center sized building stuck on top of a couple of kilometer-tall toothpick elevator shafts. At the top? Some benches and a couple of soda machines. It’s just a hangout for the supers. Also worth noting is the immense dance club. All of these buildings are just for the supers.

These are nice:


FIRST HERO: You know what would really be great here in the city center?

SECOND HERO: Some sort of memorial to the people who died when Dr. Destroyer Attacked?

FIRST HERO: I was thinking more along the lines of statues of ourselves.

I’m just saying, I don’t care if the taxpayers paid for this stuff or not. It seems a little … unseemly to go around calling yourself a “hero” when you’re living in this sort of lavish extravagance and half the city is still rubble. I’m not saying they shouldn’t have nice things, but maybe hold off on the fifty foot statues until we get the rubble out of the streets, yeah?

Remember Champion HQ from earlier? Here is the view of it from the air:


You know what I would do if I were a super-villain? No, I wouldn’t kidnap the mayor’s daughter or put a zombie bomb in the sewer. That just gets you punched the face, and even if you pull it off it doesn’t really accomplish much. No, I would buy up the property on either side of the Champions building. To the east I would build the Friendship Headquarters, and between that and the Champions building would be the Unity building. Then to the west would be the Kid’s building. Then the Champions would have no choice but to tear down their headquarters! Muahahahaha!

Ahem. Anyway.

No city would be complete without a maximum security supervillain prison built in the middle of the most expensive and densely populated areas.


Man, if there was ever a breakout it would be a disaster.

There’s always a breakout going on here. This is one of the public quest areas. The jailbreak public quest is pretty fun.

Earlier I made fun of Ironclad for launching himself at the alien mothership, and at the people of the city for throwing me a parade before we even knew how things worked out for Ironclad. I still think the parade was a messed up idea, but it looks like Ironclad came through:


He didn’t just knock them out of the sky and have them crash all over the city. He made them land their mothership in the river. Someday it is my fond hope to be able to punch something that hard. Man, nice work Ironclad.

So that’s the tour. Now, enough sightseeing. Let’s get to work.


Ah, this brings back old memories. It’s Socrates, the city cyberbrain that’s a couple of service packs short of a full install. I strike up a conversation and try to act like I’m looking off into the distance or something, because every time I look up I end up looking her right in the cybercrotch. Er. Him. It. You know what I mean.

Socrates has some superhero stuff for me to do. Outstanding. In truth, I’m really glad to be in the city now. Some of the missions in Canada were a little… screwy. Maybe a little on the daft side. Then again, maybe I’m just prejudiced against astrally-projected giant brains, I don’t know. Now that we’re back in the city we can do some more conventional superhero type adventuring. This is the kind of place Superman, Spider-Man, and Batman do their thing, and fighting crime on the mean streets of the bustling metropolis goes a long way to making me feel more like a super-being and less like a slapstick prop.

First job: Track down a stolen shipment of ping pong balls that was oh hell not more of this screwball crap.


Okay. So a villain named Foxbat has stolen a shipment of ping-pong balls. Socrates actually has the nerve to call it a “heist.” Foxbat evidently uses ping-pong balls as a weapon, and Socrates wants to know why.

My guess: Because Cryptic Studios has extremely liberal policies when it comes to the use of hallucinogenics on the job.

So I’m off to investigate the… theft.


I arrive to find an overturned truck and spilled ping-pong balls. There’s also a car on fire nearby, but there’s cars inexplicably on fire all over the city and nobody seems to care. No, the theft of comedic sporting goods is far more concerning to the leadership of the city than silly trivialities like widespread arson that has claimed one out of every eight vehicles.

Upon closer investigation, it’s clear that the trail of ping-pong balls leads off towar-WOAH!


Somewhere in southern California, a game developer is laughing his ass off at me.

Okay, so apparently you can slip and fall on the ping-pong balls. Anyway, the trail of ping-pong balls leads to a nearby warehouse. Let’s get over there and see what’s what.


I pass a couple more car fires on the way in. There’s also a team of criminals on the roof and rubble all over the streets, but by all means, let’s deal with this ping-pong ball emergency.


Inside, the warehouse is dark and ominous. Er, aside from the ping-pong balls, anyway.

Hello? Anyone here? I’m from the superheroes. I’m here to talk to someone about the theft of … some stuff. I just want to ask you a few questions, and then maybe punch you into orbit if you sound guilty. Hello?

I wait a few moments. Nothing. Whew. I experience a great sense of relief. I feel really stupid doing this, and I’d much prefer going back to Socrates with nothing and letting the police deal with the case. It’s probably just a bunch of kids anyway.

As I turn to leave, I realize I should probably check out the pile of ping-pong balls in the middle of the room first. You know, for clues and such. Supervillains are not subtle and might well have left something really obvious laying around. I go over and have a quick look around, making sure not to step on the balls.

It’s an ambush! A Foxbat Battlebot attacks!

At one point you had to slip on the ping-pong balls in order to trigger the ambush. Also, you’d slip and fall on the balls, even if you were flying over them. I was all set to make fun of the game for this and then they went and fixed it. Curse you Cryptic for fixing the most hilarious bugs!


An ambushing bot falls on the balls, which more or less makes the whole trip worth it, right there.

I pummel a few more robots, and then help arrives.


Wow. A swat team. How is that car fire problem going, guys? Got that all sorted yet?

The robots are not happy:


“Delightfully zany?” I am feeling many things right now. Perhaps shame. Self-loathing maybe. But not delight. I just saved a truckload of ping-pong balls. My publicist is going to kill me if he hears about this.

Next Time: Can our hero withstand the onslaught of self-esteem destroying silliness? FIND OUT NEXT WEEK!

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