Criminals are a cowardly and superstitious lot, said a man who dresses as a giant bat and prowls the rooftops of his city looking for thugs to beat up once discovered, and I'm now trying to follow in his footsteps. True, I don't have a Bat-gadget for every occasion and I'm hoping I don't end up as a memorial in a glass case in the Batcave, but someone has to be there to fight the minions of Braniac, Scarecrow and Gorilla Grodd, to name a few. Welcome to the world of DC Universe Online.
DC Universe Online (DCUO) is the latest MMO from Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) and Warner Brothers, taking a combination of the DC comics and animated universes and combining them into one big online world. With such big names behind it, you won't be surprised to hear that a lot of work and money has been poured into this game, from the graphics to the voice acting for several of the big-name NPCs, including Adam Baldwin (of Firefly fame, not the acting family) and Wil Wheaton, as well as long-time fan favourites Kevin Conway and Mark Hamill.
When the game starts after character creation (more on that below), you find yourself a neophyte hero trapped on one of Braniac's harvesting ships (the explanation for what is going on is given at the start of the game in a wonderfully rendered movie but, in brief, it involves time travel and nanobots) and, with the help of Oracle, you have to stop Braniac's troops and escape. By the end of this tutorial you will have learned most of the important basics of the game: how to use your powers, the game's controls and how to interact with people and objects to start with. When you fight alongside Superman himself at the end of the tutorial, you end up feeling quite heroic indeed, and even the admittedly-confusing control system (obviously adapted to be used by both PC gamers and PS3 gamers, as the MMO is released on both) might be becoming a little easier to use. After that, it's off to your mentor's home city, where you start to take missions and continue your heroic career in earnest.
dcuo gold has an incredible level of detail in both its graphics and its gameplay. For the former, this is a good thing - characters, NPCs and areas are carefully drawn and rendered, with just the right amount of cel shading without it becoming annoying and distracting to the game itself. In places there seems to be a little too much detail, however - costume parts are just a little too shiny when you might not want them to be, or there's so many energy effects on your screen at once that you don't know where to turn. With regard to gameplay, however, things are rather too complicated - the control system, for example, is a mixture of using movement keys, mouse look, the right and left mouse buttons in both clicking and holding, and using several other keys on the keyboard, sometimes in quick succession, which can at best be confusing and at worst, downright frustrating and a game-breaker for some players. This, of course, is the end result of having a game meant to be played on PC and on console when they don't really seem to have taken the time to properly work on the PC controls.