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So I’ve been sent to go see Dr. Karl Severisen so that he can tell me how to foil the nefarious plans of Viper, Canada’s other terrorist group. While not as numerous as the Hunter-Patriots, they wear schoolbus-yellow body armor instead of parkas and have zap guns instead of rifles. They also live inside of sprawling high-tech complexes instead of standing around outside waiting to die of exposure, unlike some terrorist groups I could mention.

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Quite a base you have here, Doc. You got yourself a crate and everything. Maybe you should requisition a calculator instead of just poking the palm of your hand like that. And is the bush supposed to be in here with you?

Doc has a bunch of jobs for me, all of which can be summed up as “get all up in their business and wreck their stuff.”

I really like this Viper section of the game. It’s nice to have some foes that feel like appropriate adversaries for a superhero instead of appropriate adversaries for Scooby-Doo. (I’m looking at you, Mr. Zombie.)

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LOWER LEFT: Severisen’s tiny outpost. EVERYTHING ELSE: Viper’s massive terrorist enterprise.

I tear through the Viper base, smashing the things that need to be smashed, shaking down the guys for lab documents, freeing their prisoners, bashing their faces in, and generally making sure that the terrorists are going to have a lot to bitch about in the terrorist break room at the end of the day.

I head back to Dr. Severisen and get my next batch of orders. This doesn’t take long, seeing as how he basically built his outpost on Viper’s front lawn.

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That’s a Viper building right behind the Doc, but they’re actually even closer than they seem. Right over the little hill behind him is a bunch of Viper soldiers and tech. If the ground were level, they’d be close enough for a decent game of Frisbee.

Because combat in this game is basically a time sink with no reward, it’s common for players to run into a group of foes, destroy the equipment being guarded, and then jog away without ever making any effort to engage the enemy. The upshot is that heroes will sometimes be leading a parade of enraged villains. In another MMO this sight would cause you to think “Oh no! That player is in trouble and trying to escape!” But in Champs Online, it usually means they’re just in a hurry and can’t be arsed to deal with their pursuers.

Then things get really silly when this happens around Dr. Severisen. Because he’s so close to the Viper base, it’s not uncommon for a player to drag a handful of Viper into his outpost. When this happens, the good Doctor goes berserk. Dr. Severisen is an unarmed civilian, but he and his men are level 35. The content in this area is 13-ish. Doc is fully capable of single-handedly eliminating the Viper presence in this area of Canada with his bare hands.

What will usually happen is that an enemy Viper will enter his aggro range and he’ll turn and run towards them. This brings him closer to the nearby base, and so once he gets going he usually won’t stop until he’s cleaned the place out. This is hilarious to see, although it’s really, really annoying if you’re trying to turn in a quest and he runs off. You end up chasing him all over the place, frantically clicking on him and trying to activate the next mission so you can get on with things.

And of course, after he goes Rambo on the enemy base it does sort of make you feel a little less super.

Next up Dr. Severisen has a more ominous job for me: The guy in charge of the Viper lab is Dr. Manfred Klaus. I need to take him down. Doc warns me that there is more to Klaus than meets the eye. He also tells me to take some backup.

I assure the good Doctor I can handle the Klaus clown on my own.

I hope. During the past couple of missions I was over-leveled a bit. Now I’m pretty much all done with that lower-level content and fighting the stuff I should be. If not for my vast array of broken, over-powered abilities, I would probably need to head into zone chat and start advertising for a group to help me through this.

And speaking of powers, it’s time to get a new one. Today’s broken ability is Force Shield, a block ability. There are a half dozen or so abilities that replace the standard block. For example, there’s one that will charge your next attack. So, you block, take some damage, and then return some of that damage the next time you attack. That’s nice, but it just can’t compare to Force Shield.

Force Shield vastly reduces incoming damage while it’s up, and at the same time it turns incoming attacks into endurance energy. By spending an advantage you can make the shield persist for a few seconds after using it. So, you tap the block button for just a moment before you enter battle, and then while you’re beating them senseless their attacks will be keeping your energy bar full, thus letting you spam your most powerful abilities with impunity.

We’ll see if it’s enough to get me through this 2-player mission.

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Here I am on approach to the Viper lab. The place has anti-air missile launchers to soften up incoming superheroes.

I stride in to the lab like I owned the place. It’s… crowded in here.

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That’s a lot of guys. And is that a tank? It looks like a tank. WHY IS THERE A TANK?

I’ll add that at least two of these guys are “villain” class foes instead of “henchmen” class, which means they’re a good bit tougher.

I don’t have any of those fancy ranged superpowers like some heroes. No laser eyes. No fire breath. No lightning bolts. I can’t injure people unless I’m invading their personal space, so I don’t have any choice but to wade in and fight everyone at once.

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OH GOD WHY ARE THERE SO MANY BULLETS?!?

My shield, my regeneration, and my face-exploding fists all combine and allow me to prevail. I must say though, I have to really admire the terrorists for their unbreakable morale:

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Hey there. Do you remember a few seconds ago how this room was full of your friends and not dead bodies? Are you positive you want to keep fighting? Yes? You do want more fight? Okay then. Hold still. This might sting so bad that you die.

After I’m done clearing out the vestibule, I move on to the lab where I meet…

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Right behind the big power armor is Dr. Klaus, my target. I give the power armor the shove, and then move in to face Dr. Klaus.

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So. Hi there. You’re the bad guy? You look sort of scientist-y. Do we fight or… ?

As I approach, a message appears:

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Klaus is actually Redstone!

Oh no! It’s…

Er. Who?

I mean, seriously. What? Who the hell is Redstone and why do I care?

This is like earlier in the game when the brain told me he was the cloned brain I was looking for. Are the writers just confused? Are they leaving things out? Are we missing a mission in here someplace? The game acts like this is a huge reveal, and despite reading the quests, I’ve never seen the name “Redstone” before now.

It’s also possible that the designers mistakenly assume I own, play, or give a crap about the Pen and Paper version of this setting.

“There is no need for this disguise any longer!” he tells me.

Actually, I don’t really see the point of the disguise to begin with. I mean, I came in and you took it off. What were you trying to accomplish with that? Are you just really proud of the costume? What was it like, coming in to work every day disguised as an evil scientist when you’re really an evil ninja… thing?

I can imagine what the conversations must have been like around here:

HENCH THE HENCHMAN: Redstone! I have a report that-

REDSTONE: What? Who? I am Dr. Klaus.

HENCH: I… Look sir, do we have to do this right now? I mean, there aren’t even any superheroes around.

REDSTONE: CALL ME DR. KLAUS!

HENCH: (sighing.) Right. Sorry. “Dr. Klaus.” I have a report that a superhero is on his way. So, you might want to, you know, do your thing and kill him.

REDSTONE: How could a lowly scientist like myself ever hope to face a superhero?

HENCH: (Gives a halfhearted shrug.) You got me. I have no idea.

REDSTONE: You’d need a mighty supervillain to face a superhero!

HENCH: Okay. Fine. So… if you happen to bump into Redstone at some point…

REDSTONE: (nods approvingly.)

HENCH: …you could give him the message?

REDSTONE: Yes! I will pass along your message to the mighty Redstone if I see him!

HENCH: Great. Do you have any… I mean… Did Redstone mention having any other orders for us the last time you spoke with him?

REDSTONE: Yes. Redstone demands you take the tank outside and use it to guard the front door!

HENCH: We can’t. The only door in or out is the personnel door.

(Pause.)

HENCH: The tank can’t fit.

REDSTONE: Curses!

Anyway, Redstone stops being disguised and we fight.

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I don’t want to seem like a flatterer, Redstone, but I must say your head has fantastic acoustics. I could listen to the sound of me slamming my fist into the side of your idiotic skull all day long.

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What? You’re laying down? Are you sleepy? Okay then. Why don’t you go ahead and take a nap?

I return to Dr. Severisen and he lets me know that we (meaning me) are all done here. He suggests I head to Millennium City and speak with Defender.

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Whew. Finally! Yeah. Let’s head for the city.

Next Time: The City of The Future!

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