So I got back from holidays and needed something to stop me falling asleep so I could roughly resync to gmt (as much as I ever do at any rate). Steam loaded and I spotted that Will was playing champions online and I thought hmmm why not and bought it.
Champions Online (CO from now on) is from Cryptic Studios who were the people behind City of Heroes City of Villains a game I played a fair amount of back in the day. Cryptic sold off their rights to the COH COV franchise to NCSoft a while back and were working on Marvel Universe Online but this was cancelled. At this point Cryptic bought the rights to the Champions rpg and used this system as a base for CO.
You basically create your own hero and from a selection of power types (or go for a custom build which allows you to mix and match) then fight crime in a variety of guises.
As with the COH games there is an extensive character creation system which is quite flexible. If you can imagine a hero chances are you can make it. With COH I quite often used to play only the character creation system ie I would make character after character just to screw around with the different setting and I've nearly fell victim to that again with CO.
Anyway first bash I chose a gadgeter class and made a robot lady thing. My powers consisted of various fire arms and once I had honed her likeness to a suitable cybernetic machine with cape form I was into the tutorial area. Much like COH/COV CO starts off in a small tutorial area that introduces the game and it's various systems.
The system is fairly standard you have various attacks you can choose they have cool downs and some require energy others give energy back. In a break from traditional mmo gameplay "hit 1 wait till thing is dead target new thing press 1 again repeat" some attacks can be charged up or extended by holding the attack key down (so eventually my robot woman got a chain saw attack that lasted as long as held the key down and I had energy and was remarkably effective against mobs) it also incorporates a blocking mechanism (which I always forget) you get a visual indication of powerful attacks in the form of a pop up over enemies if you hold the block you can prevent or at least mitigate damage.
On the whole these small differences make the combat a little more engaging that the usual auto cast routines of old.
Graphics wise it's pretty good colourful using plenty of effects and normal mapping it's colourful and a little over the top in a comic book way. It makes good use of particle and glow effects for the various powers.
Gameplay wise it's a lot like most modern MMO's they've borrowed Warhammer Age of Reckoning innovation of the public quests (calling them open missions) which are sort of drop in drop out large scale missions more commonly reserved for high level players or groups. It also has the similar mix of instanced dungeons and standard "kill me four deer" grind quests.
Comparing it to COH it feels a lot tighter the level progression is better and you also get the travel powers pretty early something that you had to wait for in COH and even then basic levels of flight and such was barely faster than walking here out of combat even at low levels the various travel powers are pretty fast you can cross the quite large maps fairly quickly. I gave robot lady rocket jump boots which is a hilarious if disorienting way to travel leaping massive heights and bouncing like some sort of hypersonic superball.
It has a crafting system which makes various one use devices or stat boosting items (or you can collect them as loot) it seems pretty basic but fairly well thought out so far.
As always I don't play with other people so haven't tested the grouping system ... which seems odd for someone playing MMO's but past experience of the sort of idiots you encounter in these things has put me off grouping with strangers for life. It's a little bit of a handycap but so far not a huge one the open missions system means I can still enjoy the group content even if I refuse to group. I assume they will have some analogue of COH sidekick system which allows players of disparate levels to group and still play more or less on the same level.
All in all it's a pretty interesting game. I couldn't resist the urge to restart and generate another character creating a fat man wearing a black suit, bowler hat, and flippers on his feet called "Dr Fatso" who had kinetic powers and rocket boots and a back story that involved an accident in cream cake factory. I couldn't find a monocle and it's very hard to make a character fat but other than that my creative ideas were realisable.
So that took care of my evenings ... and morning. I find MMO's have a set half life before they become boring but I guess we'll see how long this one lasts.