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I bought this game last year at more than twice the price. I was impressed, gameplay is addictive and unputdownable, character creation is brilliant. I did a trial on the US servers after which I decided to get the game as the community was so brilliant too.
Imagine my disappointment when the edition I recieved was the European servers, the ones with 2 English speaking, a French and a German speaking server. Disappointment not for the 4 servers but the fact that the US servers numbered more than 10. And with only 10 inclusive characters per server before you are charged a fiver for another (should you want it) I could not help but feel gipped by NCSoft (now Paragon Studio's (makers of AION)). I mean, ok put a trial game up but why change the location of the servers with no information?
Recovering from this (after I had parted with my money for the game) I started my experinces with CoH/CoV on good if not complete form and just decided to make the best of a BAD situation. Within a month I had managed to get 1 toon upto level 50 (top level) and several at differing stages and a lot of hours on the pc.
I had been expriencing some of the European servers community too. I found them not half as nice as the US community and, in fact, blatantly ignorant, egotistical, selfish, bullying and rude bar all but a very few. After several months of playing I found this to be the rule.
Knowing this I persisted and mainly solo'd. A new feature was being introduced into the game, Architect Edition. Where you can build your own missions and your own foes. Well that kind of made up a little of the disappointment for me and I was appeased. Then one day the developers said that they were going to take away certain achievements that I had earned through the architect feature because they had implemented the wrong rewards!
This was the final straw. Not only did I pay good money for this and spend more time on it than I ought to but I seemd to be one of the very few that became disillusiond when my rewards were removed after their lack of quality testing and I encountered a rude, ignorant and selfish player base.
Was it worth it, NO.
~ The quickie review (for those who don't want to read that lot!) ~
City of Heroes and City of Villains are basically 2 games that run coincidentally on the same servers. They run the same basic game mechanics, levelling mannerisms. In fact the biggest differences are the fact you are playing a hero or a villain, and only in certain places (PvP) do they ever meet. Until just recently you would have to pay a subscription for each game, however, since NCSoft took over 100% of the games late 2007, both subscriptions have been rolled into one low (ish) subscription price. You can have 12 heroes and/or villains on each server and with a multitude of professions, styles and skill pools you are left with a plethora of different combinations to make your hero or villain as individual as you please.
A certainly unique game in the RPG on-line game arenas today.
~ In depth review~
Being as this review is going to be quite long (yawn!) I have broken it down into smaller pieces. Everybody has their own particular parts of a game they like to focus in on, so hopefully this will help.
~ About the Game ~
The game originally started out in 2004 as just City of heroes. After a while City of Villains was created, creating a pvp opportunity to the game. In late 2007 NC Soft bought out the creating company (Cryptic Labs) and has carried on supporting and adding new content to the game. NCSoft decided to combine the games a little more by placing them on one subscription.
~ Combined V's Separate games ~
In the separate games you could only play a hero or a villain depending which game you bought and paid a subscription for, unless of course you bought both games and paid two subscriptions, which could be pricey. Getting the Combined edition gives you the freedom to create both heroes and villains, for just one subscription fee. I don't think it is possible to buy the single versions any more without a combine subscription.
~ Price and subscription ~
The initial game cost can be just £14.99 direct from PlayNC.com (no disk required) or £12.47 from Amazon (current reduced price 11th Feb 2008)
Subscription is just £9 a month and can be paid by credit card, or Paypal. You can also buy time in blocks of 1, 3, 6 and 12 months in single transactions, and obviously the more days you 'bulk buy' at any time the more you save.
I can send trial keys out to anyone who wants them! Just send me a message on here with an email address and I can forward out a 10 day trial invite. **please note, should you follow through and purchase the game & subscription I do get some free subscription time**
~ Game play ~
Game play is somewhat easy to understand and similar for both heroes and villains. You basically work your way through story arcs and perform 'safeguard' or 'mayhem' missions regarding bank robberies to gain new contacts for more story arcs the higher you go.
You can have up to 10 skill bars available for your skills, of which only 3 can be visible at any one time. However these are easily whipped through by using the + and - buttons, and then using the 1 - 0 number keys to us the appropriate skills.
~ Levels & Level cap ~
There is a level 50 level cap, however the fun doesn't stop at 50! With the Orborios time travel there is plenty to do and go back to do. There is an added bonus to getting your first hero to level 50, two new hero professions become available, which are based on a human/alien hybrid and these are Warshades & Peacebringers. If you are progressive enough to get a level 50 Villain, 2 new archetypes unlock : Arachnos Soldier and Arachnos Widow (Arachnos being one of the principle arch villain groups). There is also a Mission Architect (lvl 1 +) and a chance to transport back to Roman times via the Midnighters Club (lvl 35+)
~ Age restrictions ~
Originally City of heroes was aged at 12 and City of Villains 15, but recently (probably due to the combination of subscriptions) both games are now aged as appropriate for over 15. This is probably down to the violence and destruction which compiles a large bit of the Villains story arcs, however being as most of the time you are beating up villains or opposition, I can see this being a problem for a child under 12 thinking they can act it in real life. There is no blood or alcohol; there is also no swearing from any NPC, and the chat filter for profanities does work - as long as you set it on!
~ Creating a character ~
Creating a character is quite easy. First of all you need to decide which server you want to start play on. US has 10 servers (I think) of varying names. In the UK however, we come under the domain of the EU servers, and as such there are 2 English (Defiant and Union), 1 German and 1 French server.
Once server selection is out the way, you get to choose between a hero and a villain and the various types and pools of powers. It's certainly worth reading up about the pools, powers and slots before deciding what to play and how you are going to 'build' you character.
After that its costumes and naming; a short tutorial and you are on your way on your career as a super hero or villain.
~ Team play ~
The game is really geared towards team play. There are so many extra perks to playing in a team, such as increased XP gain and a variation on powers making certain tasks, missions and even Strike/Task forces (multiple mission missions) lot more possible than going solo. You learn early on - you might be good and have a good build solo, but you do much better in a group. As such you can form groups of up to 8 people at a time for actual play, or even join a Super group. Super groups work like guilds in other RPG games, with a base and multiple players able to help each other. Each character can join a super group, but not every character has to join the same super group.
That said, as parts the parcel of games like this some classes/professions/etc are more favoured than others, and occasionally you can be looking for a group for a while before being actually ale to join one. It's usually bad manners to just invite someone to your play group, however it is polite to send them a tell (whisper/private message) first to ask if they would like to join in.
~ Forums, wikis, support and good websites & tools ~
There is a plethora of useful websites & doodads which go with City of Heroes & villains and here is just a few
http://uk.cityofheroes.com/ - the main official EU website with forums which have many interesting and varied people.
http://cityofheroes.wikia.com - a wiki which is very helpful in determining where/how/what things work.
http://www.cohtitan.com/login - source of badge tracking software, statistical software and support. Also has a way to help you 'build' you character (skills & slots only)
~ bad points ~
Unfortunately with every RPG game you get a 'l337' crowd that can ruin it. In the past 3 months of me playing, I have been virtually 'stalked' by someone who was trying to build my character for me, been called a noob because I insisted on waiting for a friend who I was doing a mission for (I had already done it) and basically found the odd weirdo. You will find groups of 'l337's occasionally which will only be interested in power levelling. That's fine if that's what you want to do, however you gain badges for some story arcs, and cant re access those arcs until you can access Orborios at around level 25.
The biggest problem for me was the global ignore function doesn't seem to work. Each account has a 'global' name which is usually the first character created on the account with a @ sign in front (ie mines @haemathetica) in theory using /ignore only ignores a single character, whereas /gignore (global ignore) should ignore all characters from a specified account.... which it doesn't. I found that out trying to block conversations from the over helpful person I mentioned above (I like help, I just don't like being told how to play as if I am a puppet!). I did complain to NCSoft about this however they told me to just keep ignoring all the names.
~ overall ~
Its a good game, very addictive, however can be a slog and a turn off after around level 30 ish but hopefully the update will improve this. With regular events based on real life (Christmas, valentines etc) and lots of badges to collect this game is worth the dual subscription fee for me. Just avoid the l33tists and you'll be fine!
On a parental note, I would probably use parental guidance on this game and watch your child play it (up to age 17) or play it yourself first. Certainly to re enact able fantasy for the under 12's and could cause accidents with over imagination.