DC Universe Online PS3 Review

February 19, 2011 by  
Filed under PlayStation 3, Features, Reviews

Publisher – Sony Online Entertainment – Developer – Sony Online Entertainment – Genre – MMORPG – Players – Massively Multiplayer – Age Rating – 16+ – Other console/handheld formats – N/A

MMORPG’s usual place is not the console, although as half the players playing Sony Online Entertainment’s DC Universe Online are apparently PS3 players, perhaps in the future we’ll start seeing a lot more appear on consoles. What’s certain is that DC Universe Online does actually feel very at home on a console.

As is the norm with MMORPG’s, the first thing you’re going to be doing is creating your character. DC Universe Online allows you to be a hero or a villain and also gives you the opportunity to change everything from their mentors (this determines a number of things throughout the game), their look, powers and the method in which they’ll be getting around the two cities: superspeed, flight and acrobats are the options. There are preset creations inspired by the famous heroes and villains from DC comics if you can’t be bothered with your own creations, while said creating has quite a number of options, assuring that, if you can be bothered, you really can create a unique character: everything from a hero with presence to a villain resonating with menace. And in a nice touch, you can lock-in the look of your character, meaning that whenever you equip new armour, your hero or villain doesn’t drastically change his or her appearance. I only found this option a little later, having first seen my initial hero turn from a generic caped crusader into someone who looked more like a court jester.

The gorgeous opening comes as quite a shock, with all the heroes being killed off, although fortunately this is events that will be happening in the future – in the present day the heroes are safe and well. But more heroes and villains are needed to combat the threat of Brainiac, the powerful force and mastermind behind the events that leads to the future deaths of the heroes, and that’s of course where we all come in. The story is well presented with beautiful artwork at certain points, and while the voice acting is very good at times, with established actors such as Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill as Batman and the Joker respectively, at others it’s laughably bad. It’s a real rarity for a game to have such a contrast.

The two cities are diverse enough, and it's not difficult to tell one from another.

The game begins in the confines of Brainiac’s ship as you attempt to fight your way out of it. This portion is kind and considerate, learning you about combat and the various options screens without going so far to overload you with information. When outside of the ship, Gotham or Metropolis city are your playground, and wherever you start it’s possible to jump to the other city to carry out your crime fighting or your criminal motives, obviously interacting with familiar characters – helping them out or beating them black or blue. Your base of operations will be the Watchtower if you’re controlling a hero or the Hall of Doom if you are playing as a villain, and within these areas you can do everything from buying more powerful and iconic suits to reading your mail.

Missions are the typical kind you’d expect from a game of superheroes and villains. There are some where you are just ordered to destroy a certain amount of the opposition, others in which you help out people, collect or destroy objects, visit locations, and defeat bosses. They’re hardly the most imaginative of tasks and some can get really quite tedious, but on the whole DC Universe Online is a lot of fun.

Of course, there’s combat too. Said combat is fun enough and has everything from heavy physical blows to melee attacks involving weapons, objects and powers. It has to be said that combat can get a bit messy at times when there’s a lot going on, but this doesn’t happen enough to truly detract from the game.

You’ll have your own weapons and skills to throw into the combat and when you level up (the level cap is currently set at 30), you’re able to make use of a skill tree to improve various areas of your character. There’s also a decent amount of depth to be found in the combat as new moves are added to your repertoire, but you are never going to have to be pulling off any overly complex attack strings.

When you reach level 9 you’ll have access to Arenas: Player vs. Player and Alerts. Arenas has you teaming up with other heroes or villains and going up against human foes in modes such as Capture the flag, while Alerts have you coming together with other players to complete tasks and to defeat bosses. There’s also a Legends: Player vs Player mode, here you are firstly required to buy access to iconic heroes and villains – yes you are able to play as Batman or Superman, just not throughout the entire game. When you hit level 30, Raids and Duos also become available for you, and it’s nice to know that the game isn’t instantly over as soon as you hit the level cap.

The visuals are attractive enough, although there is some nasty pop-up.

Primarily, the game can be played in single player, but whenever you need help, using the chat function is done with ease and it’s also possible to create or join leagues as well as to quickly form teams within a certain area, and then drop out when you want to head in a completely different direction. In fact, on the whole all the menu screens are neatly laid out and you’ll sound find out where everything is.

So, is it worth the £9.99 per month subscription fee after coughing up for the game itself? Well, as mentioned earlier, there’s additional content upon reaching level 30 and there’s always the Player vs. Player modes to turn to when you exhaust all the rest of the content. Some won’t like that level 30 can be reached so quickly, but the first month is free and new content has already been announced for everyone from maxed out players to those who haven’t peaked yet. If Sony Online Entertainment keeps bringing in the fresh content, then DC Universe Online is more than good enough to keep the players coming back in my book.

DC Universe Online may have its problems, but none are so deep that the game is ruined, which is a good thing as it’s rare to see such a game feel so at home on a console. There’s some kinks to sort out, including a few bugs, but the future is certainly looking bright enough for Sony Online Entertainment’s MMORPG.