Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Champions Online

I have said this before, but the idea of a really good superhero role playing game for the computer is really the perfect thing for me. It's a dream I had long before I realized it. When City of Heroes first came out, it felt like my salvation was at hand. It was exciting and wonderful, and honestly, aside from someone to make babies with (which I surprisingly achieved, no seriously, I am the last person who ever thought that would happen), the only thing I really wanted in life (there may be some hyperbole here). I liked the game, I enjoyed playing it, I found some nice people to play with in game, and had a good time with it before burning out on it. The game wasn't actually perfect, but it did give me a lot of stuff that I really wanted in a game, in a way that other games just hadn't.

I have been a fan and player of Role Playing Games since middle school. I played D&D mostly, but collected and obsessed over a lot of other titles. If I could, I would have a giant wall of role playing games and books and materials. A friend of mine picked up a game called V&V (Villains and Vigilantes) it was a slim volume and had pretty straight forward rules that covered just enough mechanics to let me fill in everything else and make a perfect comic book superhero role playing experience. You have to have a GM(game master) that you trust with your leisure time, but I am a big fan of playing games with good storytelling and plot, regardless of whether everything is really random or not.

That aside, the game I owned, and was most impressed by, but never played, was the game Champions. If you are not familiar with the roleplaying game Champions, it is a level of Math beyond Calculus and Trig. It is a law degree in one book. It is awesome and allows such craxzy customization that there is no way you won't end up with a truly unique and specialized character of your own if you want it. For me, it was also unplayable. I made a lot of characters, but in my gaming group, no-one really ever wanted to spend a whole session just trying to work up a character at the expense of play. It also seemed super bulky and confusing. This is all wrong of course as it is an awesome game that my friends and I are too dumb to play... that's clearly on us.

Champions online has the feeling of customization akin to that of the pen and paper game. Not the same, but there really is a lot of space to create characters in a way that suits you, and to play them however you'd like as well. It doesn't seem perfect, but it's pretty decent. It suffers from some of the same things that City of Heroes did, which is sort of depth of play experience in a superhero setting, and a lot of powers and things seeming very similar, but the customization is strong and the character design options are pretty vast. The play is pretty good, even on my crappy computers, but not perfect. A lot of that is probably due to my hardware, so I am not ragging on them.

Missions seem to be almost interchangeable, and almost none of the story and plot and descriptions need to be read at all. I pretty much just read the mission requirements when they pop up on my screen in shorthand after I accept them. It's a lot of fun, though, and just like Champions back in the day, creating characters may be the most fun for me. I still get a kick out of being a good guy and running around saving people and fighting bad guys. I am not sure that I will decide to keep baying the steep 15 bucks a month subscription cost once it kicks in, but we'll see.


John said...

Have faith, good sir. The DC Universe MMO (if and when it finally ships) will be nothing short of spectacular. It stands head and shoulders above not just other superhero MMOs, but above most superhero video games in general! I've NEVER played a game where super speed was more fun (with the possible exception of Sonic the Hedgehog, of course.) And with Geoff Johns and Marv Wolfman working on the story elements, you can bet they'll be a step up from the typical videogame fare.

Speaking of superhero RPGs, I'm working on a Mutants & Masterminds campaign called UNDONE Heroes, which borrows liberally from Hellboy, Atomic Robo, Stormwatch, and The Perhapanauts. I'm hoping it will be as much fun to play as it's been to conceptualize.

Talkin Bout Comics said...

Awesome. I had almost forgotten about the DC MMO. I will certainly check it out at some point. I'm pretty much hardwired to play it at some point.

As for your Mutants and Masterminds campaign, It certainly sounds like a great combination of material for a game. I really used to love running superhero games just for that reason. You can actively draw upon your accumulated comics knowledge and make something that's unique and fun for others.