I don’t know why I say yes to things.  I think it could be considered a character flaw.

It is now some five years since I cast off the shackles of World of Warcraft and painstakingly pieced the shattered fragments of my life back together.  What, I asked myself, am I doing diving into another MMO?

Luckily DC Universe Online pulled its first punch by using my entire data cap to update.  This was basically at launch, you understand.  And it didn’t involve downloading the game itself ; that would have bumped the tally up by another 12 or 14 gigs.  So my first week and a half of playing involved me not playing.  Or browsing the net.  A stellar start.

The intro movie is cool, though.  It sets up the stupid storyline well, and features shit getting wrecked on an impressive scale.

Character creation is simple but fairly comprehensive.  Choose your faction, gender, appearance, abilities.  The interface is quite terrible, but not cripplingly so.  The choices available are baffling in their complete lack of any order or sense.

Before you get to head out into the world to go MMOing and RPGing, there’s a tutorial mission that introduces the combat system quite well.  I set up my modest array of powers in a configuration aping many of my WoW characters of old (primary stun ability is always mapped to 3.  Always.) and got stuck in.  Since the tutorial involved destroying a huge alien mothership, I felt like I’d clocked the game when I finished it.  The combat system at first seems slightly more involved than in most MMORPGs.  You actually attack in more or less real time, for example.

Having downed the mothership I headed down to Metropolis to fight low level mobs for a pittance.  It seemed like a step down, somehow.  At least it wasn’t too hard.  Most quests can be soloed if you keep your wits about you, and if you can find a way to make the awful targeting system work.  Fighting multiple mobs can become a bit of a magical guessing game as you try to convince your moronic lycra-clad alter ego to attack the enemy you want him or her to attack.  It can become a pitched argument, often resulting in fights getting very out of hand in crowded areas as mobs are aggroed by poorly aimed projectiles.

As you’re fighting off hordes of strangely persistent and suicidal campus police (for example), you’ll be forced to listen to them say the same poorly-read one-liners again and again and again, until you’re blue in the face (assuming you aren’t already).  The voice acting is hit and miss, with a heavy emphasis on miss, especially for lower level mobs.  Maybe this is one of those things that super hero enthusiasts can live with.  I cannot.

The skill trees are nicely arranged and represent a fairly decent range of choices that have a significant effect in game.  Gearing up is less of a hassle than an MMO vet might be used to, and allows you to use better gear while keeping the appearance of the equipment that best suits your look.

Approaching the end game (after a week or so if you’re a casual player (I know, right?)), you’ll have access to a decent range of instanced missions for different party sizes that actually represent a decent time sink.  I didn’t explore the PvP content, but after getting repeatedly ganked while questing, I wasn’t feeling up to it.

While my experience wasn’t what you’d call pleasant, DCUO might be quite enjoyable for someone who’s into super heroes and is looking for a  shiny MMO that isn’t too challenging, but is still involving.  If you’re choosing between this and Rift however, your decision should already be made.

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