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Free Video Game Review: Champions Online

Like MMORPGs and Superheroes? Then this mix might be right up your alley, although this isn’t City of Heroes, but it’s made by Cryptic Studios – The developers of said City of Heroes. In my bid to turn people’s attention to free video games that are at least worth a look, I stumbled upon this free-to-play MMO with a heroic touch. So join me and my Superheroic avatar, the almighty… uhh… Timlah. I never said I was a creative sort.


Overview

Developer Cryptic Studios
Platforms PC (Windows), Xbox 360
Windows Release September 2009
Genre Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game
Price on Steam £Free

Review

Gameplay

Completing a quest in an area

We’re going to completely forgo the story in this; it’s really hard to judge an MMORPG on a story, as really it’s a mish-mash of many stories. However, if you want to know, you play a hero who has been called to help the city from baddies.

Start the game as one of many different classes, go around and beat up bad guys, claim the rewards. All in the day in the life of a Superhero, right? Well that’s what Champions Online would get you to think, as an MMO built to reward you for being the best hero you can be. Help citizens, fellow heroes, people of interest and more as you combat the evil-doers who have infested Millenium City. Experience, money, skills and much more for those who play long enough.

Don’t be deceived by the above however – It’s a long slog until you’re anywhere near that level of heroics. It’s going to be a game with a lot of grinding, a lot of character progression and a lot of meeting people who don’t know how to get to a quest, so they aimlessly chase after you in a hopes that you know what you’re doing. Then you ask them if they know where they’re going, but they look at you with those big dumb avatar eyes and say “u noob”. People can be so classy at times!

“We’re all looking for that one person who has a clue.” – Kevin Kutlesa

My free ‘aura’. I love it! Sadly you can’t preview before purchase, so if I picked a duff one, that’d have been bad!

So what I’ve learned is that stat allocation is a bit different to a typical MMORPG – You don’t either manually upgrade the stats you want; nor does the game do it all for you. Instead, the game at key points will ask you to upgrade stats you want. This means you’re able to increase your stats even if it’s a stat you don’t necessarily need. This helps those who are making completely free-form champions, which is an option. Meanwhile, I decided to go pretty easy, so I picked a sword-swinging champion who just dishes out the pain. Sadly, he doesn’t have much health, but ho hum, it’s good enough to take on small groups solo!

There’s free auras in the game, allowing you to emit a cool glow. As well as this, you get a travel power. I picked Mach Speed, to move around super fast… However, you can pick flight right from the off. Why didn’t I choose it? I dunno. I was happy with just being super fast and I can tell you – I think I picked the best travel option. Nevermind that though, you go about quests, entering instances of varying toughness. You attack enemies by clicking on them, then pressing 1 for an auto attack (more or less), or other numbers which corresponds with the position of your champions abilities.

Graphics

As always, we believe seeing is believing here on GeekOut. The first thing I noticed is that the game looks pretty good for a free game. Ultimately it won’t blow you away graphically, but it’s entirely non-offensive to look at. In fact the hero creation screen was fantastic! The amount of customisation is truly exceptional, so top marks for the character side of the game. As an aside, within minutes of being in game, I saw someone who made their avatar look exactly like Nightcrawler, so excellent job there. The backgrounds aren’t as detailed, but this doesn’t bug me much… unlike these bug-men in the first area!

Audio

Slightly disappointing, except that opening screen, the music is pretty basic. But then again, would you want music blasting your ears off when playing an MMO? With this said, there’s enough ambiance to keep you sane throughout, so it’s not all bad. With a catchy enough beat, it’s all pretty well done. Just a shame there’s nothing more exciting when in the main cities! Still, there’s enough variety between different instances, that it does just about enough to keep you at least amused.


Overall

Is this a World of Warcraft killer? Oh God no! Is this the MMO to beat all MMOS? Definitely not! But shall I tell you what this game is? Simple, free fun. If you’re unable to afford a monthly price tag on an MMO, this might be a good time killer and a good way to get into the genre. The community seems nice enough, the customisation and the graph settings are excellent and the variety of classes seem varied and interesting. With this said, there are obvious flaws with it, such as the simple gameplay and weird selecting-then-talking mechanic previously discussed. If you’re interested in giving this a whirl, check it out on Steam.

Overall It’s a great fun time sink, exactly what you want from an MMO. I would recommend taking a travelling party with you in the world, but ultimately, you can make some friends on there. It’s a social game with a community who seems half interested in partying up and half entirely disengaged. The latter are probably just there to play a free game mind. Now we take it over to all of you – What do you make of Champions Online? Is this an MMO you would play, or do you think it’s not heroic enough for you? As always, share your thoughts below or over on Facebook, Twitter or Reddit.

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