This is only my third MMORPG, but it’s the first time I’ve been able to so thoroughly customize a character. I’d gotten the impression from some of the blog posts I’d seen that the customization was largely just of costume, so I was amazed to see how much you could also affect personal appearance, including many aspects of body type and height, skin color, hair style, a wide variety of facial expressions and facial types, and so on. It completely and utterly seduces the character-creator in me, and I find that the various characters I make look nothing like each other. I also find it far easier to recognize and immediately separate out the various other player characters around me in game. (I couldn’t help going so far as to make a writers’ exercise out of the whole process.)
Needless to say, I’m head-over-heels for the character creation process. I did find that things got a little more confusing after getting into game, however. The tutorial is of limited use for some of the basic types of characters and learning the most basic functionality of the game, but there’s no specific material for teaching you to use the more complex character types—you’re simply told to take a break and go read the manual. Also, if you buy the “Good vs. Evil” version (i.e., the bundled CoH/CoV), which comes with the “VIP club” pass allowing you to teleport into the “Club D” pocket dimension from anywhere in game, I highly recommend waiting to use it until you’re high enough level to survive those areas that have doorways into Club D already. I couldn’t find a way out of the club that didn’t involve going through those zones, and unlike some other games you can’t just necessarily corpse run your way home—getting killed often sends you back to a distant hospital.
Mobs of various levels tend to be scattered around and intermixed a bit more than I’m accustomed to from other games, so it’s easy to round a corner and quickly realize that you’d better turn around and run back the other way. Mind you this seems rather genre-appropriate, so that’s okay. I have yet to figure out how to tell how level-appropriate a mission I’ve been given is until I enter it and view the mob levels; I wish that wasn’t the case. Also, as far as I can tell you can only be on one mission at a time, so if you find it’s a bit much for you, your only options seem to be to either group with others or go beat up random mobs until you level up a bit. In general I prefer to be able to pick up a variety of quests at once and work on whatever seems convenient. Of course, offsetting that is the fact that when you’re playing with superpowered heroes and villains combat can be much more entertaining and fun than in some games, so pure beating up of mobs does have its appeal!
I absolutely adore the three-dimensional aspect of the game. In most games there are very limited ways to, for example, get to any upper levels that might exist in a city and explore them. In CoH/CoV you can use flying abilities and items such as jump packs to boost you up to virtually anywhere—and you’ll find mobs up there when you arrive! You can run and jump over exactly the kind of rooftop terrain you might find in your favorite genre movie, which is just fantastic.
The creators seem to have taken the convenient genre excuse to do away with one of the traditional MMORPG nuisances—travel time. Every character can use a sprint ability to move quickly through the city, and you can buy enhancements to that run speed if you wish. Subway trains link the zones, and travel via them is virtually instantaneous. When done with a mission, a single button can return you to outside the instanced mission area, so you don’t have to run through all that space you just cleared.
All in all, it’s a truly fun game. I’ve only run into a few difficulties with things that were a little confusing, or odd little bugs that I haven’t found my way around yet. (I can’t seem to use the /tell or /t command to talk to anyone… no matter how many variations on the supposed syntax I try it tells me I have the wrong format. But I can at least /reply, so I don’t have to be entirely rude!) I think my husband was quite amused by my evil cackles last night as I ran around playing a petite, young-looking girl less than four feet tall with stony skin who hits like a ton of bricks, complete with massive-punch-landing sound effects.
How could I resist?!
In unrelated news, the Deep Fathom Review is up. Deep Fathom wasn’t as good as Rollins’s Black Order, and definitely was more of a sort of light beach read than Black Order was, but it was still enjoyable!