City of Heroes Review: Welcome to Paragon City!
Jonathan (Ardy) Doyle, OnRPG Journalist
Paragon, for those of you who may or may not know, is the setting of City of Heroes. The neighboring Rogue Isles (Étoile Isles), which are far less scenic and twice as dangerous, is where you’ll find yourself if ever you fancy a City of Villains.
City of Hero Issues
Both have been my virtual home for well over five years now and I love my city as only a geek can. I have battled demons and gods. Fought with, beside and as an alien. I’ve smashed robot hordes and controlled them, put down zombie invasions and raised my own mob of the undead. I have been the length and breadth of the two cities and still more awaits me.
What about the game you say? Well in a pure technology sense City of Heroes is a game facing its sixth birthday this coming April 28th. Six years on and we have had 16 Issues (http://paragonwiki.com/wiki/Issues) with another on the way and one Expand-alone game, also with another on the way. Every issue brings something new to the table and with Issue 17, if you’ve passed the City Of (CoX) titles up because they’re showing a few visual wrinkles here and there, you’ll be happy to know I17 brings Ultra Mode for graphics.
The game is always adding, always innovating with its dedicated team and always offering us something more. 16 issues on and with two sides to choose from, good and evil, Paragon and the Rogue Isles are finally getting shades of grey to compliment the shinier graphics. Going Rogue (which launches this July) is another expansion to the core game and will open up an alternate world. Without going too deep into the lore, as I could talk your ear off on that, Praetoria represents new content; new challenges and a new alignment system that will let you make a villain of your hero or vice versa with stops in between the two poles.
Further to that CoX also offers Booster packs (RRP $10) that give you even more options in the character creator as well as the occasional extra emote or power. They’re always fun to have but by no mean necessary.
Sharp suit, sharp sword
No proper review nowadays can be made of the CoX games without mentioning Champions Online and here is as good a point as any. Both games (CoH and CoV) were made by Cryptic Studios before they sold the IP to NCSoft in November of 2007 and went on to create Champions. While their new system is different, many of the lessons and in fact entire art pieces can be seen in Champions Online. It is less City of Heroes 2 and more of a distant cousin. The character creator everyone raves about was tried in City of Heroes first and in my opinion it stands up to the test of time. Each new issue brings something more for it, from the upcoming animated tails, to the previously released colour and weapon customizations and all the other added bits and pieces you will receive from events, missions and boosters. The character creator is always growing, always adding to itself and always making more things possible. Think it up, give it a shot and tell us how it went.
Want to give it a go? Easily done, just pop over to the site www.cityofheroes.com and sign yourself up for a trial account. Once you’re in, just pick your side, your archetype (and there are two “Epic” ATs reserved for people who have hit the level cap, this is being changed to level 20 in I17) and pick your power sets. After that, let your imagination go wild. If you want to be a bulky armored bruiser or a slender sexy pistol packing babe or anything and everything in between, you go right ahead and whip it up. Come on into the City and start your career. Don’t think you’ll be stuck with the one look or only a handful of options either. Every character gets at least four costume slots (unlocked every 10 levels from level 20) and every account gets 12 character slots per server. You can even purchase or earn (via the veteran badges) more server slots up to a maximum of 36. So far five costumes per hero is the limit and I know people who would sell someone’s right arm to buy more. After you’ve got your fancy outfit and your fancier powers, it’s time to do whatever it is you wanted to do. Heroic heroes? Dastardly villains? Whatever you want.
A villain dressed to kill
Eventually though, a day may come when you’ve run through all the given content. Maybe battling time travelling fascist Nazis doesn’t appeal to you. Or perhaps you’re not in the mood to fight a giant unicellular world devourer. Maybe you just can’t bring yourself to jump into the future to battle signature Heroes and Villains or cope with the idea of sealing a great evil beneath a volcano. If this happens, worry not for CoX has yet another trick up its sleeve. Architect Entertainment (AE) missions brought in with Issue 15 allows for user created content. Do you want to stop saving the world and write about how you came to rule it? Do you want to immortalize that comic book idea you’ve had for years and see people play it out? The Architect system allows you to handcraft mission arcs for anyone to play with custom groups and dialogue. Once again, if you can dream it up, they’re doing their best to let you play it out.
I could go on at length about milestones in your career, veteran rewards and how they improve your life as you keep playing and on and on about Praetoria, the latest powersets and what it all means for me let alone you, but I won’t right now. Why you may ask? Well this is just a review and for that I’m looking back, even when there is plenty to look forward to. Six years have almost passed for the game. Six years of innovation, change, additions, improvements, reimaging and expansion. So in this reviewer’s opinion, with all that has gone before and everything that is yet to come, why don’t you come and visit the City of Tomorrow? Look me up and I’ll show you my virtual world, my super powered slice of life and how the first Superheroes and Super villains are faring after all this time.
– Ardua is an avid City of Player and can typically be found on the Virtue server saving lives, robbing banks or just hanging out with people. His global is @Ardua and you all welcome to say hey. Anyone for Jello?
– Screenshots are all personal shots of Ardy doing Ardy things in City of Heroes and City of Villains.
– All rights go to Cryptic Studios, Paragon Studios and NCSoft etc so on and so forth with the legalese.
Sharp suit, Sharp sword.
Pictured: Villain in the Isles, dressed to kill. Literally.
When you level up, you explode with the Plume of Awesome.
Pictured: How to deal with thugs.