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DC Universe Online - A Hater's Guide

Posted by Ozzallos Monday December 20 2010 at 12:04PM
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DC: Universe Online - A Hater's Guide

With the release of DC Universe Online, there are going to be a lot of people with a lot of cash burning a hole in their pockets for no other reason than the fact their favorite superhero publisher is now an MMO franchise. That's great and all, but there's a few things you should know about this game before you turn into a gooey, gelatinous mass of fanboy.

To be fair, we'll go over what the game got right first.

In a word, the environment DC Universe Online crafts is very nearly epic. The DC franchise has over fifty years of lore to draw upon and Sony puts every single last bit of it to use. If one were to draw comparisons based on the audio and visuals alone, DCUO would utterly devastate any other hero game you care to mention. Gone are the artificially subdivided zones of City of Heroes or Champions Online. Each city in DCUO is a fully realized construct that doesn't just give you a few square blocks of load zone to play in, it's a world unto itself that leverages every piece of DC lore Sony could lay its hands on and renders it in exquisite detail.

The audio and visuals are so well done that it makes you want to lust after the game on their merits alone; almost painfully so. The atmosphere is absolutely perfect in a manner you rarely see in MMORPGs these days, and fans will instantly find themselves at home fighting iconic villains alongside iconic heroes. To effect, the game is not just full of voice overs and cinamatics, but full of *quality* voice overs and cinamatics.

And then it all turns to crap.

The most damning element of DCUO is that it is, first and foremost, a console title. This may not seem such a heinous crime until you realize the full portent of what I'm describing. This is a console game. Made on a console, for console controls and with a console audience in mind. If that doesn't mean anything to you, I'll be blunt: It's dumbed down to the point where it barely resembles a role playing game of any sort.

At its core, DCUO is little more than hack and slash title; taking only the vaguest stab at true character management in deference to what is in reality a first person shooter environment. If one had to draw a comparison, DC Universe Online holds more in common with the likes of Dynasty Warriors than, say, Guild Wars or World of Warcraft. Even worse, this game was obviously made for gamepad and thumb controllers with absolutely no effort to port it over for PC use. As if to emphasis this fact, mouse look is permanently enabled and players will find little to no options concerning their GUI manipulation.

Bastardized console controls you can get used to. A hideously realized menu interface is just salted glass on the proverbial open wound. In some cases I can see where they embraced the aforementioned philosophy of console first and foremost-- For example, you can't simply enter in a name to add a friend. You have to sort by zone, or level, or who's the closest, then select the person you're adding after navigating what is about the most unintuitive menu structure ever envisioned for an MMO. It's not just because the GUI was structured for console thumb controls... It's because it was designed by lobotomized monkeys.

In fact, there's very little to DCUO that's intuitive in nature, which ultimately strives to undo any good will accumulated by the stunning environment. Even questing comes across as a disconnected experience. You receive the initial quest, kill things and have to click the 'complete' button to end it and receive your reward. Rarely will there be any call to actually return to the quest originator and most quest lines chain via communicator. This, in turn, renders the need to click 'accept' or 'complete' even more redundant since the quest sponsor is apparently going to do everything for you. To that end, your quest reward is apparently airdropped directly to your person for your convenience and immediete use.

I'll be honest. In the end, it's very hard not to like this game simply because it front-loads so much win from the outset. The premise and opening movie are well thought out, and everything from creative direction and lore simply rocks. There is literally no comparison in the field today, and that alone is almost worth the price of admission.

Almost.

For everything DC Universe Online does right, it does the rest horribly wrong. If you're on a console, you probably won't be disappointed much. Why? Because you're more than likely already inclined to play twitch games.  DCUO is every bit of that and more. It's Dynasty Warriors with a coat of DC slapped on it and a vague smattering of RPG with a bunch of people. Navigating the obtuse and needlessly complex menus on a d-pad will be aggravating, but you're probably somewhat used to that as well. DC Universe will sell on a console because like Golden Eye in the day, it'll be the best in a very small pond.

For anybody expecting a real MMORPG, DCUO fails beyond comprehension. It certainly attempts to tells a story and immerses you in the DC world, but contains all the depth of shallow puddle of pond scum. Where it completely destroys its contemporaries in world structure, the polar opposite is true in regards to complexity. Even the worst Hero MMO will have more than DCUO, especially when questing boils down to little more than "Stage complete! Next level!" ala any console you've ever played. That may very well be enough for some people. DC Universe Online is an over glorified button masher, but even I'll admit, it's a damn good one. It's really what Vinductus should have been from the outset, ironically.

Finally, there's also a point of principle... I'm not going to pay retail plus subscription for Dynasty Warriors or Unreal, even if you slap a coat of superheroes on them. Playing through the actual story with other live players is definetly a draw, but I'm going to have to pass until the next real MMORPG comes along; Not a simplistic console franchise that wants to punish you for playing on a PC.

 

[Update 12/28 6pm]- /WRISTS. Seriously. Just ran through my fist instance. It was the most skitzophrenic, chaotic experience I have ever endured in an MMO, bar none. I though I waould run a healer through just to see if it ran according to expectations, and sadly it did. Targeting fast moving, bouncing allies proved to be next to impossible, nor would they (not they I would expect them to) stay still long enough not to have the heal blown because they were out of the cone of heal. There was no communication because action generally prevented typing and- as mentioned -this is console game that obvious expects you to speak into a mic, not type like a PC. In fact, it's structured in such a way to where if you do stop to type, you're not contoling anything else.

This all the makings of a great console game and every bit of fail for anybody on a PC, save diehard DC fans or those just looking for mindless, button-mashing action. I'm putting this game aside for a bit until my fustration wears off.

 

[Update 12/20 8pm- Cautious Hope: A 2gb patch just hit (v3.0.0.223), making a lot of changes to the GUI. It actually made life navigating around the wretched GUI... less wretched. If they can keep up with real, measured forward progress, this game might be salvagable. Normally betas aren't quite this hoping so late in the game, so I'm plesantly surprised in spite of the text below]

KCDDagger writes:

This game is on my trash list for the above stated reasons.  I play 2 hours on my PC, adn stop because i have the headache and wrist pain to end them all from twitch clicking my mouse 6 billion times to kill a mob, or having to navigate the city and remember that I can't use the mouse, hot keys or slash commands that I've become used to in most STANDARD MMO's to date. 

If you want to buy the game, and you are a PC user, save yourself a headache adn the like and get yourself the recommended PS3 D-pad and get it synched to your computer so that you can play this wihtout having to murder your, keyboard for proper interraction commands.

Stunning graphics, and if I'm not mistaken they've used the CG rendering style of Appleseed Ex Machina to forward the movie.  Kudos in my book as it make the lip flaps, less lip flap and more enunciated.

Sound is also great, save for if your computer runs on less than 4GB ram.  Then your looking at possible issues with skipping sound bites when the characters talk to you via the communicators.

Integrated voice chat.  This is automatically turned on (I found out the hard way when I grouped up with Ozzallos and he got to hear me for the first time and informed me that my mic was live.)

Character creation.  Menus and sub menus of STUFF.  And the ability to jump all OVER the color spectrum in the design phase to make your look "unique".  Purple hair?  Sure.  You want to be a furry?  Cheeta, fox, tiger, or wolf?  Eyeblinding color set to make your enemy want to gouge out thier eyes from lack of coordination?  Yup, that too.   However its not exactly intuitive and where I'm a button pusher to find out how things work, its sad when I get stumped in character creation, or it takes me more than an hour to make a character.

I could rant on and on, but in come cases, I'm preaching to the choir, and in others I'm just pissing off the fan boys and girls out there.  You know which ones you are.

Amazing concept and presentation.  UTTER FAIL in execution.

Mon Dec 20 2010 4:43PM Report
comerb writes:

superhero customization options are also painfully limited.  There are only a handful of powersets, weapons play a far more important role than superpowers, and there are only 3 super-travel options available.

Also, there isn't enough content to get to level cap w/out using other Mentors, almost every weaponset/superpower set plays very similar, many of the powers are ultimately just carbon copies of other powers simply themed differently... which means that game has almost no replay value.

Presentation is outstanding.  Combat is moderately fun, if a bit repetitive and shallow.  But everything else is just terrible

Tue Dec 21 2010 12:53AM Report
kaungst writes:

Well if you hate it that bad, give you beta access to someone that will want to play it lol

There are some of us that would like it.

I'm just sayin =P

Out of curiosity what do you find is a good MMO?  I find the cookie cutter MMO's to be flat out boring. I was WoW'd out in about 2 days, that game bored me to tears...

Tue Dec 21 2010 1:15AM Report
beregar writes:

Hrm. I do like the combat system. It's fast paced and involves combos which are all good in my books. My problem is the horrid UI and the fact that quests themselves are your standard "defeat x while stuff respawns around you" fare. The only nice part is that you don't actually have to run back and forth all the time to complete them.

I also agree that for a superhero game the customization is on the side of lacking.

I do like the instanced spaces more but even those could use a bit more improvement in terms of actual obstacles. I feel they are going to right direction as some have sidequests and exploration objects. Now add environmental hazards and the like and it's good to go.

- B

Tue Dec 21 2010 8:38AM Report
SuperXero89 writes:

I stopped reading at, "...it's dumbed down..."

The game's an action RPG at best.  It makes no claims of being an interactive EVE Clone spreadsheet simulator.

Tue Dec 21 2010 4:08PM Report
thanto writes:

I agree that the setting and the majority of the voice acting is just spectacular.  Mark Hamill is the ONLY Joker.  This means you, dead Heath Ledger.  And Batman!  Oh man, they even brought in Kevin Conroy!  The rest of their VA choices weren't quite as good (Michael Ansara is the only one who can do Victor Fries right), but the acting itself was.  The acting that sucks right now is all placeholders.

 

The problem as I see it is the gameplay.  As stated above, it's extremely limited.  Everyone absolutely must have a single super power set, and a weapon set, which is almost entirely melee.  The worst thing is that super powers don't build power, only consume it.  Meaning, most of your combat is going to be based on your weapon skill, with a hotkey to a super attack here and there.  To give you an example of the weapon system, there's a bow weapon type.  One of the attacks is "arrow toss", where you throw your arrows at an enemy.  And that's a special combo attack.  Seriously.  I think that pretty fairly sums up the depth of the combat system.

Tue Dec 21 2010 9:24PM Report
quentin405 writes:

Worst blog ever.. seems pretty biased.  This game is a great new direction for Mmo's in my opinion..  As for the combat.. it calls upon actual gaming skills to pull off some of the melee combo moves.. But then again, so many mmo players lack these because they just target and watch as their character kills a monster and press 1 2 3 1 2 3 lol.. Anyways.. Off to play DC some more.. cause its awesome

Wed Dec 22 2010 2:42PM Report
Ozzallos writes:

Heh. that 'awesome new direction' is apparently mashing the f*ck out of your mouse until either it screams in agony or the mob on-screen dies, which ever comes first.

Yeah, that's just full of win.

Wed Dec 22 2010 8:34PM Report
KCDDagger writes:

Have you ever TRIED to do combos with your mouse?  for those of us who have hand/joint issues due to work or other games this doesn't work.  you have to be able to time your clicks just right.  short click long hold short click is one combo.  and you have to be able to do it with both buttons. 

I for one am NOT spending $100 on a FPS shooter laser specced mouse just to get the kind of response time that kind of timing requires.  I am also not going to go to the doctor's office with RSI complaint only to tell them I was playing an MMO 2+ hours a day as the cause.  Bad enough I have arthritis in my hands that act up enough that I can't grip the mouse some days.

Yeah.  Go back to your consol twitch gaming little boy and leave the MMO's for the rest of us.

Wed Dec 22 2010 8:45PM Report
quentin405 writes:

I dont own a console but okay.. I am sorry your a gimp but I just use a cheap little logitech mouse and have no issues whatsoever..  Awesome new direction meaning a deeper element to combat then target... 123 123 123 123.. 

Thu Dec 23 2010 8:29PM Report
quentin405 writes:

If you can't hang with the twitch games... then go back to your 8 hour raids and mind numbing daily quests... Atleast I know who the gamer is here o.O

 

Merry Quanza! :P

Thu Dec 23 2010 8:34PM Report
Airwren writes:

As I've stated here and on the official forums I think the game is good and you touched on a lot of the points of the game that I don't like.  In the end the game boils down to be pretty simple to learn and master and doesn't offer a great deal of depth as MMO's go.  Hopefully that will change with time because I really think Sony has a chance with this title, as long as they can go against what seems to be their nature and take a promising title and completely monkey **** the thing.

Thu Dec 23 2010 8:43PM Report
axylfyre writes:

Black Magic, period.

Fri Dec 24 2010 12:12AM Report
kaungst writes:

or they could make it a WoW super hero game and the rest of the sheep will play it lmao. We can craft all the same costume pieces and all look alike at the max lvl =P

Fri Dec 24 2010 1:32AM Report
Ozzallos writes: Way to fail at reading, topgun. I pretty much said the visuals and environment are outstanding. That includes the looks the character appearances... But since you brought it up, every other super hero game you can name eclipses DCUO by a vast margin when it comes to character creation and design. And what is this fixation with warcraft anyway? It's the second example I listed and one of many, many other superior MMORPGs out there. Why not shots at Guildwars, huh? That, and I'm not the one labelling DCUO a MMORPG. They labelled themselves that. Fri Dec 24 2010 11:02AM Report
kaungst writes:

I agree on the character creation, and btw PEBKAC I wasn't refering to you anyway.

I just picked WoW because that's is where the sheep tend to flock to. You mention MMO and WoW always seems to come up lol. Chew on that "TOPGUN"

I do hope however that the DCUO character creation will get a few additions. If not then oh well. I'll still buy and play it.

(Honestly I'm just here to make trouble)

Fri Dec 24 2010 10:57PM Report
kaungst writes:

Merry X-Mas everyone =)

Sat Dec 25 2010 10:05AM Report
Ozzallos writes:

10 million active subscribers willing to pay a subscription when subscription models are supposedly "a thing of the past."  That's more than being sheep, bro. That's an example of a product people *like* no matter how you want to disparage the users. That's why I use it as a benchmark.

For what it is, DCUO is nice. It's a console masher no matter how much they call themselves an MMO (correct) RPG (fail). This game is a 3d version of Streets of Rage or any other  80s arcade button pounder you care to name. If that's your thing, it does that wonderfully. If you're looking for a real RPG- and warcraft bears a much closer resemblance to that than this ever will -then you'd be advised to sit this one out.

Sat Dec 25 2010 10:07AM Report
Ozzallos writes:

And a merry christmas to you to :D

Sat Dec 25 2010 10:08AM Report
Senadina writes:

This is a well written, unbiased, negative review. An unbiased opinion can still end up being postive or negative overall. It is only an opinion after all. While I appreciate the warning you are giving the uninformed about the lack of RPG in this game, I am well  aware that DCUO plays more like an action game. The devs have said this time and again. And I will be playing it on PS3, so hopefully the controller will make combat easier. I am no twitch queen, but I think I can master some combos against AI. Not much of a PvPer, cause I know I won't be able to compete there. But I am interested in playing a hero/villian thru some storylines. Doubt this game will hold me once GW2, TOR. or Rift release, but until then? I think it will be fun for awhile and that's good enough for me.

Sat Dec 25 2010 2:58PM Report
kaungst writes:

@Ozzallos,

thanks for the x-mas wishes :)

Just so I can hear how you came up with it. What makes WoW and even GuildWars an MMORPG and DCUO not one?

Are we not playing the ROLE of a character? is it not ONLINE in a MASSIVE world?

If 'm not mistaken that would be a MMORPG....

DCUO has some differences. Hell if there wasn't I would have just stuck with City of Heroes lol. Not that CoH was a bad game. Hell I played it for 6 years =P

Was actually very fun. Just time to move on.

Just sayin....

Sat Dec 25 2010 7:58PM Report
ZagatoMKR writes:

So I guess they didn't follow how FF XIV went to a trashbin because of it's GUI etc. One wold think they would learn from mistakes of their competitors, guess I am wrong.

Cheers.

Mon Dec 27 2010 4:22AM Report
korvass writes:

Apart from all the stuff mentioned, my only real complain with DCUO is that SOE seemed to have done their usual half-assed design approach. They have a great idea and then just make half of it.

I'm referring to the cross-platform issue. It makes no sense to me that they would continue the multi-platform apartheid, when they could generate so much more revenue from finally integrating PC and console gamers. I disagree with the OP's view on it being made only for consoles. The button mashing aside, I have had no issued physically playing the game, and it feels as though it is made for both platforms equally well. So I don't buy the 'balance issues' excuse. This feels to me like a MMO that is truly made for both kinds of gamer, so why not tap it's full potential, and finally break those barriers between PC and console gamers?

Mon Dec 27 2010 4:34AM Report
Vyeth writes:

quentin405 writes:

"Worst blog ever.. seems pretty biased."

LOL, says the guy with the Superman logo as his avatar.. I take it you are a DC comic fan?

I'm sure no matter what this game ended up being, you'd play it anyway.. Don't feel bad, but that's being biased as well..

Hell, thats how I feel about Gundam.. Everything Gundam..

Mon Dec 27 2010 10:48AM Report
KCDDagger writes:

I never said that it was a completely bad concept.  Just poor execution.  Not everyone wants to go through mouses (yes that is the term) like water clicking to kill things on an MMO that they're going to want to make accessable to a wide audience considering the popularity of the subject matter.

As for the Argument of "Real Gamers"  It is an invalid argument for this particular debate as it is an extremely subjective title.  I do tabletop gaming in 4 different gaming relms (have been gaming since I was 8 y/o), and when the MMO's game out I waited till I saw something good and stable out there to get my feet wet on for the computer realm.  Just because I do not sit infront of a console mashing buttons 8 hours a day does not make me any less of a "real gamer".  So lets drop that subject like the thermonuclear potato it is.

 

Opinions are like assholes.  Everyone has one.

Mon Dec 27 2010 11:36AM Report
magistare writes:

DCUOnline as of today still needs some work. The last large patch fixed a great many issues that were plaging us all. Sound crashes are the largest detractors I have experienced. I tried 3 different sound cards each by a different vendor, turtle beach, creative and the onboard sound of my Asus motherboard. Still crash during massive fights. 

Character customization improves through play, you will unlock items as you progress. You can lock features you do not want changed on your avatar and allow alterations on other peices. 

Some things that need fixing, the user interface, trying to open chat andthen begin typing closes any control of your character and will pause them in what ever travel mode you are using.  The minimap is static in that there is only one view, no changing the zoom in or out.  Voice overs often conflict with another or happen multiple times, distracting but not unerving to the point of punching purse puppies.

Looking for group features has progressed but will not help between zones and is local use only for now.

 

DCU Online has promise but akin to most other releases suffers from the go to live, fix it later mentality that gaming companies have used for the last ten years. Many excellent games were doomed becuase they were rushed to deliver. Horizons comes to mind.

 

Mon Dec 27 2010 2:16PM Report
kaungst writes:

I agee that the game is NOT DONE, And it needs some refining. MAJOR in some areas I admit. But honestly I am liking it. And as for the console gamer thing... I don't even own a console lol.

My kids have a WII (i hate that console)

I will admit though.. I do use a gamepad, so I suppose i'm a kind of hybrid game of sorts. I use a game pad on several games, Vindictus, City of Heroes, Champions and DCUO.

 

My major gripe as of now is the interface, being able to move and resize sections would be nice. The chat is horrible. And Having a way of keeping the text readable on lower resolutions would be nice for players with lower system specs.

At first I hated the character creater. Untill I played a toon for a few hours and earned a few new costume parts. And now I am rather fond of it.

I di think they need a big push on the updates and fixes. The launch date is a tad to early IMO lol.

But I am willing to wait if need be, The game could be great. But... Some fixes NEED to be made.

I'm sure I'll have more to say later, so TTFN =P

Mon Dec 27 2010 8:59PM Report
Lansid writes:

I do have onset of carpal tunnel thanks to the beta of this game. Having played both sides and most class combos I can say that it was a fun romp, but nothing to play past a month or two. Powers needed more variety. (so if I want to heal I have to use Sorcery or Plants? limits the RP styles quite a bit) Costumes needed more as well. Color scheme improvements. Enough of the "Goto X, Aquire # of Y, return" formula questing. More variety is needed for this game to survive, otherwise it'll go F2P by next year... by then hopefully the bugs are fixed. FYI if you ARE experiencing a lot of bugs on release that can be traced back to beta, we're sorry, but we DID complain about them, and were told tough the game was at it's "release" state.

Sat Jan 15 2011 7:30PM Report

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