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February 25, 2011
DC Universe Online - PS3 Review Page 1
Release Distributor Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
20/1/2011SonySonySony Online Ent.None2+
Media HDD Space Resolution Move Controls Tilt Controls OFLC Rating
Disc15GB720pNoNoM

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A gathering of DC Universe heroes.
When you couple the fact that World of Warcraft has been such a huge success on the PC with the fact that games companies are looking for new ways to maximise their earning potential, it was inevitable that a MMO (Multi-player Online) game would make its way to the PS3. That game is DC Universe Online, an action-RPG in which you get to create and play as your very own superhero (or super-villain), and let's face it who out there hasn't dreamed of being a superhero at some point in their life? With the MMO genre and its subscription-based play being relatively new to consoles, the question is has SOE delivered a game that console gamers will pay by the month to play? Read on...

The game starts with an impressive cut-scene depicting a battle between some of DC's best known heroes and villains; Superman, Lex Luthor, Batman, The Joker and Wonder Woman among others are all there in the thick of the action. It's an epic intro that makes you want to dive straight into the fray but Brainiac, an arch-nemesis of Superman, has other ideas. Towards the end of the battle Brainiac strikes with the intent to wipe out Earth, but he meets résistance, during which a weapon of his own is used against him to convert normal civilians into superhumans. With this humanity has a fighting chance against Brainiac, and it is here that you join the action.

The first step is to create your character. This is one of the most liberating aspects of the entire game, so it's worth taking your time here to create your ideal character. You have a lot of choices to make here, such as whether you're going to be a hero or villain, who your mentor will be as well as your size and personality. Heroes can choose between Superman, Batman or Wonder Woman to be their mentor, while villains have the choice of Joker, Lex Luthor and Circe. The mentor you choose will have some effect on the weapons and armour you use during the game.

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Superman unleashes some pain.
Next up is your choice of superpower; fire, ice, gadgets, mental, nature or sorcery. You only get one power to use throughout the game, so choose wisely. Next you have the choice of three different movement types; flying, super-speed and acrobatics. Personally I couldn't go past flying, but all three options provide an impressive level of freedom in your travels through the game world. Then it is time to choose which weapon you want your character to specialise in. There are a wide range of weapons to choose from, such as a bow, dual-pistols, a rifle, an axe, a hammer, hand-blast, brawling and martial arts. Your decision here is less important than the power you choose because once you reach a certain level you can choose a second weapon to specialise in, which is great if you make a bad choice to start. With all of those choices made you can finally focus on your appearance. There are plenty of customisation options here, and with a bit of effort you'll create a genuine-looking character.

Unless you played Final Fantasy XI on PS3, or have played PC MMO's, you won't have played an MMO before so it's worth noting a few things. Firstly the game can only be played online; there is no offline game here. Secondly, when you purchase the game you are given a one-month subscription, but once that month is up you'll have to pay to keep playing. The current price according the Australian Playstation website is $19.95 a month, $54.95 for three months or $99.95 for six months. The subscription-model is new to consoles and it will be interesting to see if gamers learn to accept it. One final note on cost-related subjects; it turns out that the game disk is forever linked to your PS3 once you use your one-month subscription. This means that the disk won't work on a different PS3, and therefore cannot be re-sold or purchased second-hand.

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Now that's one giant enemy!
It's also worth noting that unlike regular games, DCUO has down-time each day so that maintenance can take place. In my experience the down-time was around the half-hour mark, so it's not too bad but it's worth noting all the same. One final thing to mention is that the game should be ever-changing, with large monthly updates promised by the developers. These updates include things like bug-fixes, new quests and group missions and possibly more. The first monthly update for the game came out this week, and while I haven't had the chance to explore it much there has been a noticeable increase in the number of missions available to my level 30 character, including a mission to take on Catwoman.

Whether you choose to be a hero or a villain, the action takes place in both Gotham City and Metropolis. There is no day/night cycle here, rather in Gotham it is always night, whereas it is always day in Metropolis. Metropolis and Gotham City don't border each other so to get from one to the other you first need to go to the Watchtower if you're a hero or the Hall of Doom if you're a villain. From there you just need to find a teleporter that will take you to whichever location you're looking for. It has to be said that both the Watchtower and Hall of Doom can be a little tricky to navigate because the mini-map, which works well for most of the game, can't adequately display the multi-level environment of the Watchtower or Hall of Doom.

As mentioned at the top of the review, DCUO is an action-RPG with a definite emphasis on the action. Combat is fast-paced with you unleashing weapon combo attacks as well as any power moves you have at your disposal. All weapon attacks are performed with a combination of taps and holds of the square and triangle button, while powers are mapped to each of the face buttons and used by holding the L2 or R2 triggers. You can choose two items from your inventory that can be used by holding R2 as well, giving you a total of eight powers and items ready for quick use.

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DC Universe Online's visuals are decent.
Every button on the controller is put to use; ‘x' jumps, circle interacts with objects, L1 locks on to the automatically selected target, pressing L2 and R2 together will pick up any nearby loot, while pressing L3 will change your movement style, changing you from walking to flying, acrobatic or super-speed and vice-versa. Although every button is put to good use, the controls are not especially complex and you'll pick them up in short order.

The RPG elements are there for all to see too. Every henchman you take down, or mission you complete earns you experience which in turn increases your level. Missions come in many forms, though the vast majority of them involve going to a certain area, pummelling a specific number of goons and activating a number of objects in order to proceed. Enemies and objects re-spawn quickly, meaning you won't have any trouble meeting the objectives, though you may find yourself overmatched when more enemies appear right on the heels of you clearing others. Many of these missions culminate with you heading inside a building to dispatch more opponents before fighting a boss and completing the mission. The boss fights are a good break from regular fights, and in many cases you'll team up with some established heroes or villains in these fights. When you complete such a fight you're often treated to a short comic from the perspective of the fallen opponent, whish explains who they are and what their motivation was. These comics will help those without much grounding in the DC universe to understand characters better, and given they are all very pretty to look at should be a treat for established fans too.

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