By Gabriele Giorgi (Darak), Onrpg writer
Everybody dreams of being a superhero, dressed in tights, flying in the sky with a cape flapping behind, but, most important, with an array of devastating powers and abilities to fight petty criminals and supervillains alike.
But maybe you’ve got a darker side, and being a villain is what suits you more, wreaking havoc and devising masterplans to get rid of those pesky do-gooders who always stand in your way.
Well, whatever your choice is, City of Heroes/Villains promises to make it happen.
Released only as City of Heroes in 2004, the game was followed after one year and a half by City of Villains, allowing players to experience the dark side and impersonate similar yet different characters. More important, both heroes and villains play on the same server, and they can interact with PvP or cooperative missions as well. Now the titles have even been unified in just one boxed set.
So grab your cape and prepare yourself to venture in the world of City of Heroes and City of Villains… in short, CoX
Creating Your Mask
CoX character editor is probably unrivaled among other MMOs. There are tons of possible combinations to create the perfect look for your avatar. You can combine all the different parts any way you want and with the colours you like, but the system can help you with pre-built sets and letting you choose a primary and a secondary colour to apply automatically. More important, you can have up to five different costumes and during the game you can unlock special slots like capes at level 20 or auras at level 30.
The possibilities are really countless.
Your character is defined by his role (similar to other MMORPGs, where you have the tanker, the healer and so on), but mainly by his powers: you have to choose one primary and one secondary power pools. In addition, everyone will have access to other general pools like traveling and miscellaneous powers. The level cap is 50, but the number of powers you can choose is limited, so you will have to select them carefully. You will also be given “enhancement slots” to upgrade your powers, in order to deal more damage, hit more often, recharge it sooner, and so on.
This way, you will be able to build your unique character.
Whack! Crash! Thud!
One of the most interesting features of CoX is its fast-paced combat. Usually, it will take you 4 or 5 blows to defeat a normal opponent, but of course you’ll have to be careful not to be swarmed by sheer numbers; lieutenants might give you a hard time, and you’d better watch out when fighting bosses or even elite bosses.
Of course it’s better to team up: this will help leveling up faster and, since most of the missions are instanced, the game will balance automatically the number and type of opponents, keeping it a fair challenge. A full team (or even more than one) will be required to take down Giant Monsters, particularly tough opponents that spawn in different areas.
And while you climb your way up to level 50, new and more powerful factions will stand in your way, and interesting story arcs will develop in front of your eyes.
You may also fight in the arena with other players to test your skills and, starting from level 25, you can enter three different PvP areas where heroes and villains battle each other. Unfortunately, the PvP side of the game is not very well developed, with archetypes (i.e. classes) more powerful than others.
Another problem is that, once you reach the level cap, the high end contents are lacking: there is not really much to do other than collecting badges (tokens for accomplishing goals: although their only purpose is boasting, they can be quite addictive)… so usually you just go back and “roll” a different character.
The Birthplace of Tomorrow
The setting of CoX contributes to make believable both Paragon City (“The birthplace of tomorrow”) and the evil-infested Rogue Isles. Statesman and his fellow heroes are constantly fighting with Lord Recluse and his minions and, during your missions, you will have the chance to meet them all. These characters form an in-depth mythology and you will get accustomed to them as the game progresses.
The city is full of details (take the billboards, for example) and its sightings might be really breathtaking, at times; on the other hand, the maps do suffer from low interaction: it’s strange to see so many buildings and be able to enter only a few of them, and no car will ever run you over. The only exception is in mayhem missions, a particular kind of instance for villains where you can really cause mayhem all throughout the area.
Animations are really good and varied for all different powers, and the same goes for music and sound effects, all very appropriate to what’s happening on the screen at any given time.
Everything is made to look like comics, and even small things like dialogues in balloons add to that feeling.
Build Your Powers
One of the new features introduced with the updates was the Invention System, a clever crafting system that allows you to create enhancements for your powers. You can obtain recipes and ingredients as random drops for defeating mobs or completing missions. Particularly rare recipes may form a set, which will grant even more bonuses to the character who collects them all.
Of course, this is matched by an innovative auction system, where you can sell extra ingredients and recipes setting your desired price; you can also buy what you need by bidding the amount you are willing to pay. The bids are hidden, and the trade happens only when supply and demand meet.
Up to now this is surely one of the most efficient auction system in all existing MMORPGs.
Always Something New
During the years, the developers of CoX have been implementing new and interesting features to keep up the attention of the players.
Supergroup bases and base raids; alien invasions; time traveling to “relive” you previous levels; a mission editor to let the players create their own stories; cooperative zones where heroes and villains have to fight together against a greater evil; day jobs when characters assume their mundane identities… and, of course, always new tons of costume parts!
Now the team has founded Paragon Studios, a dedicated branch to develop new contents and come up with ideas to keep alive and kicking the “City of” franchise: as a result, a new expansion, “Going rogue” has been announced, so we can expect to hear more of this game in the future.
CoX offers a sound alternative to usual fantasy and sci-fi MMORPGs on the market. Its many features will grant several hours of fun, at the same time allowing you to create your character as you really want it. The game might suffer from lack of high end contents and replayability, though, unless you enjoy starting anew with different characters.
– probably the best character editor among current MMOs
– innovative crafting and auctioning system
– fast-paced action
– not many high-end contents
– PvP quite overlooked
– Limited interaction within maps