You might be thinking, how could you have anything other than your standard PC MMO control set up? It works. It is reliable. It feels right. Hence why it is most likely the same in Champions Online. With a few little tweaks and additions to the control structure. The largest being the fact that you can navigate the entire game without using the mouse at all if you don't want to and all without having to alter the basic key bindings and mapping from the start. Only if you don't want to though.
I have not played many other MMOs out there, just your standard ones, but I have yet to have this option without adding any thing to the game or building my own macros. For instance, you can interact with people and objects with the simple press of the 'z' key right out the gate. This makes it so you don't have to take your fingers away from the standard WASD keys and have to move the mouse over to loot a body. Nice little feature I think.
Not to make you fret at all though, you can change the entire structure to something you prefer via the options. It just seems that Cryptic thought ahead and had a few things set up that most people will go in and change any ways. It's nice to have a few things taken care of before hand so I don't have to spend hours setting up my options before I can play a game.
Looking at the character shots in this article, you can get a feel for the style of graphics as well as the detail. Although, most of the world and mission areas have more of a stylized cell shading to them, giving a bit more of a comic book feel to the overall experience. Something that really adds to the fun if I do say so. Having a world like that with a detailed character reminds me of the standard comic book art style. Where the artists spend more time on the heroes and villains and just kind of gloss over all the surroundings. More or less just there to give you an idea of what is going on the story.
Also lending to the comic feel is the style used for all the menus and HUD of the game. Everything has that "cartoon yet real-ish" look to it. Something akin to the early type of graphics used in comics before the gore and horror genre became popular. All of which is easy on the eyes and fun to look at, even though some of the graphics do look like recolored version of other icons, but hey there are a lot of graphics needed for this game, so I'll forgive for that.
What is kind of odd though, is that even though these graphics don't look very intense they were able to over heat my graphics card quite a few times. Something my machine has not gone through since Age of Conan. I am not sure if the processing is just that intensive or if my box is just now prone to over heating because of past issues. Lowering the quality, which sucked, fixed the issue but it was still odd. Could just be my nVidia 8800GTS though. It does kick a lot of heat.
Nothing overly spectacular with the audio of the game, but this is pretty much the case with so many MMO games. The rehashing of music that fits the environment gets drowned out by the explosion of powers and the environment itself. It's just the way MMO games go. I'm not saying it is bad, it is just one of those aspects that developers can't really get over the top on. It's just how it is.
I will touch on the fact that it is nice to have the main NPCs actually talk to you and not force you to read text boxes. One thing I am not a fan of in MMO games in the first place. I know it isn't anything new to the genre, but it is worth a mention to hear the NPC heroes tell you missions or add to a mission by giving you audio queues.
I will say it was hilarious to hear "I need a GM to port me to a different map" from one of the not-so-bad-ass NPC heroes though and the other fun comments like that.
This is where the game completely shines in my opinion. Which is where you want an MMO and pretty much any game to shine. Am I right? Through the overly versatile customization options to the actual functions you can do in the game. Not to mention the diversity of the missions and PvP one can partake in, it has even a more casual MMO player like me jonesin' to hop back online. Oh, and the teleportation power of the game makes me happy...in the pants.
As you've seen from my character shots mixed in here, there are a lot of ways to customize your character. You can easily spend an hour or two tweaking everything just to get the look completely right for your character. Which was part of the over all fun of the game for me. I have filled up all my slots already with PCs and the game hasn't even been out for a month as of this review. It is just fun to see what combinations you can come up with, both on the power and stat side and also on the look and feel side of things. It's is partially why I have my tank and demon, T-Rex and Hell Girl respectfully. I wanted to see if I could build something like that with the amount of options you get.
As far as the missions go, at first they seem like your standard talk to person X. Person X needs something. You get that something or beat that something down. You return to Person X or Person Y to get your XP. Standard MMO missions. But you also have missions that just pop up because you see something wrong in the game world. Like you are beating down a bunch of Mutants in a desert wasteland and see that a statue has had it's head ripped off. You can select the optional mission right there to go collect said head and bring it back to fix the statue. No middle man saying, "Hey I saw this, will you fix it?" You make that choice then and there. Adds a good bit of diversity in my opinion.
One of the things that can make or break an MMO today is the PvP system for the game and how they are run. Also the perks and awards you get for participating in these huge play battle royals, or in the Champions world, the Hero Games. Something that is set up exactly like the UFC for super heroes. Down to the octagon arena and posters/ads for the event. Unfortunately you don't get awesome music when walking out of the locker room and into battle. But none the less a huge battle arena where you and a team of five take on another team of five. So more of a Royal Rumble UFC thing.
Another interesting thing, which is cool and sucks a bit, is the fact that you can enter in the arena and the game with level you to be on par with the other heroes you are taking on. For instance, you are a level 12 and the current queue is full of 20s. You get leveled to 20, stat-wise, for the fight. Just none of the powers you would have if you did level to 20. Which sometimes can make the match. But everything can't be perfect like letting you quickly choose powers of the level and then hop into a fight. Oh well. I won't go much further into it, I could go for hours, but if you have a flier and teleporter, you can easily dominate.
Speaking of teleportation, this has to be the best feature for me in the game. The way it is done and the power and freedom it give you. All at level 5 in the game as well. At least if you want it for your PC. That is just the level you get your travel power. Flight, speed, jumping, tunneling, and teleportation to name a few. I still say teleportation is the best. Here's why.
In other games that give you this option of travel, you have to either select a general point or rely on the game to place you where you want to be. In Champions, you get a timer to move your PC to where you want to be. The exact location. All while still having the ability to select targets and get ready to attack. Oh and no, they can't attack you while in "teleportation mode." Also one thing that it seems to do is speed you up to the point where it looks like the game world is moving slower while you teleport. Making traveling and nightcrawlering people so beautiful. My hat is off to you Cryptic for this.
If you can't tell yet, this has been one of the more fun MMOs I have played to date. It is overly engaging and different enough to be in a category of it's own and not seen as a WoW competitor. It really does feel like you are playing through a comic storyline or a really awesome game of the table top game. There is fun to be had around pretty much every corner in this game. Even the PvP. Which to me is one of the things I normally hate in MMOs. But that is mainly the people and not the game itself. But the Champions community seems to be on a good track to keep me back and competing. That is if the general fun of the missions and customization don't.
In the end, if you are a super hero nut or slightly enjoyed City of Heroes/Villains, you will overly enjoy this game. It is a bit sad that this could have been Marvel Online and not Champions, but not sad enough for me to complain further than that. It has so many option and I have had nothing but fun with the game since I started playing back during the Closed Beta. Well outside of the overheating issues. But in any instance, I totally recommend you pick up this title and join the good fight. You will be sucked in from the start and won't be able to break free. Time to go play some more.