I'm feeling very nostalgic today. Maybe it's the sudden surge of Super Hero movies dominating the big screens all around theaters this week, or the mere fact that in the last 2 hours of playing City of Heroes, I've seen 3 wannabe Batmans, 2 Supermans, and 5 mean, green Hulks sifting through Atlas, on their never ending quest to fight evil, one level-up at a time. Of course the character names are different for Licensing reasons but fear not, we are in the midst of doppelgangers, both near and far. And that's not a bad thing.
As for myself, it feels just like yesterday, that I draped the family- sized beach towel around my neck, my father's leather work gloves, and a self-made utility belt filled with Jolly Ranchers, a few feet of clothesline, and plastic handcuffs in my plight to apprehend the known criminals of my neighborhood.
In those days we had our heroes, much like the ones you have today. Oh, sure the names have changed, and possibly the paychecks these stars take in, but if it wasn't for Adam West and Burt Ward's versions of Batman and Robin, you truly wouldn't appreciate Christian Bale and Heath Ledger's talents, including trading in the ballooned trademark "Pows", "Blams", and "Kracks" of the 1968-1970's version of Batman for today's high def world of effects and digital sound.
These days there's no lack of outlet for braving a costume, either in the form of attire or in a video game. With City of Heroes/Villains, you create the kind of character you want from a robust amount of options. You want them to don Capes, Masks, Wings? Shoot Laser beams from their eyes? The ability to teleport, as well as the power to command a group of Robot Henchmen looking to liberate toasters all around the world? Check. All that's left is the imagination. That and love for liberated toasters. Videogames and movies have always been married in the duality of fame, fortune and continuous media packed lore.
What better partnership than to merge movie superheros with today's addictive world of video games. Thus, is case in the epic world of MMOs. A community based world of gamers uniting together to save or destroy the world on an epic scale, all from their computer, without even leaving the house.
There's no shortage of MMOs for the casual or obsessed gamer. World of Warcraft, alone nets in over a million users. But personally, for me, I'd rather be able to fly over massive cities with my cape flapping in the air, brandishing dual swords, and engaging my enemies with my Robotic-Posse, than to battle legions of demented wizards and famished undead, with only a sword while wearing a leather jerkin.
City of Heroes/Villains opens up the doors to create ambitions and twisted conceptualizations. You want to emerge as the standard muscle-bound hero, with the charm and charisma, to make ordinary citizens jump with glee, or to make the ominous villains tremble in fear? Maybe you're more of the silent type and you'd rather handle your servings of justice while cloaked in a shroud of darkness, all the while systematically positioning your Katana between the 4th and 5th vertebra. Or maybe you're the anti-social type, who likes to keep his distance, and feels more comfortable singeing the enemy with a burst of fire or making human popsicles with your ice cages.
All of this and more awaits your time and creative abilities in the world of city of Heroes/Villains. The Developers and publishers of City of Heroes/Villains love their fans and do everything possible to keep them content, as they continuously create free expansion packs in the form of Issues, akin to a comic book, to keep their loyal fan base happy and anticipating more.
As a form of "research" for this article, I happily subjected myself to the latest superhero movies gracing the theaters. Iron Man, the Hulk, Hancock, Hell Boy 2 and the Dark Knight. I kept my ears opened for that one topic I'm basing this article on. "This movie rocked, I wish there was a video game just like this movie that I could play with my friends". Now the common gamer can always rent or buy the latest movie-to-video game addition, since all of the above mentioned movies will have their respected video game counterpart in tow, and call over a buddy, order a pizza and soda, and bond in a feverish display of primal gamer competition. But how do you share in the joy and excitement of being the next best thing with friends you rarely see, because of day to day commitments, life's responsibilities, and the fleeting of leisure time and distance?
In my early days of gaming, the mere thought of racing through crime ridden cities at half the speed of light, commanding an army of zombies to carry out my bidding and teaming with friends living halfway across the planet was unthinkable. Sure, I miss watching their faces as I landed a well placed crescent kick to the side of their cranium, or watching in joyful arrogance as my applied figure four leg lock submission move had them tapping away, figuratively and quite literally for a chance to escape my wrath. But with age and responsibility, and an inevitable relocation of my living status, having those gruelling, finger mashing nights with my gamer friends became more and more infrequent. So how does one relish in the fact that they harbor these dreams of crime fighting? Of joining a world full of gamers, sharing their glorious or morbid creations, all the while embarking on a social anthem of unity from their seemingly ordinary arm chair?
Well, as I'm sure some of the answers would scare me. I'm envious there's more opportunity these days, than gluing orange colored Styrofoam to one's body in an attempt to be the Fantastic Four's powerhouse, the Thing.
The technology and social interactivity in today's videogame industry allows gamers to expand on Hollywood's superhero empire, all the while enabling the forming of friendships, partnerships and joint accumulation in most MMO's.
There are 2 things for certain whether you're sitting in a packed theater to watch the latest Superhero grace the silver screen, or booting up your computer for the next 12 hours of playing your own created savior. There will always be movies depicting something we all wish we could be, and in the case of City of Heroes/Villains, this will give us our chance.
Just think twice before donning that beach towel and home-made mask. The world isn't ready for that just yet.