Essentially, if the names Marv Wolfman and Geoff Johns don’t mean anything to you, than this probably isn’t a game for you.
In DC Universe Online, you take on the role of a brand new hero or villain who has just entered into the general DC Universe in order to either bring justice along with the League and Society or to reign terror down on the streets with the Legion of Doom. The thing that stands to make that so interesting, however, is the aforementioned writers, Marv Wolfman (Crisis On Infinite Earths, the literally Earth-shattering limited series of 1985) and Geoff Johns (Green Lantern Rebirth, The Flash Rebirth, Justice Society of America: Thy Kingdom Come, and the upcoming The Blackest Night, to name a few) are together writing a story that makes the reason for this legitimate and not just a simple cop out. You will be playing out a story that they themselves wrote! If that’s not enough to entice the hardcore DC fans, I’m really not sure what will. And while you can not take the mantle of your favorite hero or villain, you will be able to fight alongside or even against him or her, so don’t think that they’ll be suddenly absent. The in-game missions are interwoven with interactions of all your favorites.
As far as the game goes, it looks pretty sweet. The game is still in pre-Alpha stages, so don’t expect to see it any time soon, but the graphics are very smooth and crisp. As shown in our demo, the user was able to fly all around and there was no deteriation of the room he was inside as far as clipping goes. The gameplay is relatively simple and similar to other MMORPGs. You’ll have a set of powers and/or weapons, and you’ll assign them as you see fit and use them as you wish, wether it be for good or for evil. PVP interaction is also a possibility, but don’t expect to be doing a mission for the Joker and run across a user playing alongside Batman. As for now, the only interaction with other users not on your side of the law is outside of a mission only; there are no crossovers. If you want to kill each other, you’ll have to wait until you’re done.
For our demo, we were shown the villainous side of life. The villain, who had no name, was a sword weilding flying ice powered villain, and he put all his various powers to use at some point during the demo. It started off by him contacting the Joker who, with Harley Quinn, told him to infiltrate Star Labs and steal a compound that was turning people into zombies and the villains wanted to steal. Our villain went forward into the lab, defeating various scientist zombies and then placing a collar on them in order to gain control of their minds, using them as minions for the rest of the level. We were shown some of his powers, such as how he could turn people into a block of ice and then throw that block of ice around. And then there was that giant sword, of course. The Joker and Harley also provided back up, running around kicking and shooting various things. As the level progressed, our villain teamed up with Bizarro and Solomon Grundy in order to take down a security robot, and later he teamed up with the Joker and Harley to take down Hal Jordan. The thing about fighting a hero is that when you defeat them, they pretty much turn tail and run, leaving it open for them to come back later. Obviously you can’t kill Hal Jordan as his importance to the DCU is too great, but this goes for villains too. I also got to witness a hero battle against Sinestro (in full Sinestro Corps garb instead of his older costume) in which Sinestro also retreated after defeat.Continued below
I got the chance to talk to one of the developers of the game and I asked a few important questions:
1. The game is primarily designed for PS3 and PC. Is there any chance it will be on any other systems, i.e. the Xbox or Mac? Well, in short answer, it’s not likely. The Xbox is a definite no-no due to rights issues with Sony. It’s not unheard of for a game to come out as an exclusive for one system and eventually make it’s way around to the others, but the scope of the game is theoretically to big for an Xbox to handle as it would require a blu-ray disc to run. As for the Mac, it’s a possibility. They haven’t made it a priority, but it’s something they’d like to consider in order to expand the market. If you don’t have a PC or PS3 at launch, though, you’re pretty much out of luck.
2. With Geoff Johns and Marv Wolfman as writers for the game, does that mean we’ll be able to participate in DCU events such as the Sinestro Corps War, or even Crisis On Infinite Earths? Not right away. This is something that they’d really like to do eventually but it’s not a priority. They still need to finish ironing everything out just so they can get the game out as it is, and eventually they’d like to offer expansions/DLC with event packs in them for you to live out some of the bigger moments of the DCU. A Crisis On Infinite Earths game would be pretty amazing, if you ask me. And as a follow up question, I asked is it a possibility that one day, after launch, DCU Online would be able to match up with on going events in the comics? Such as, if the game were all set to go now, would it be possible that the Blackest Night would happen in game while it happens in the comics? The answer to this is not likely. The comics are going to do their own thing and always will be set to move forward on their own whereas the game will be focusing for the most part on their own version of the universe. Something like that would be an interesting idea, and it’s something that they will now apparently go and take into consideration, but it’s not something that is likely. They are working heavily with DC in order to produce the game, but no matter how close they work with DC they are often just as in the dark about major upcoming events as we are.
3. Will Batman stay Bruce Wayne? Definitely. There is no plan to take in major changes of the DCU into the game. As far as I know, The Flash in DCU is still Barry Allen. I believe the other Speedsters are in the game, but the main Flash is Barry. That is 100% unconfirmed though, so don’t quote me on it. It was just mildly implied. In an unrelated note, I just spent five minutes trying to figure out what the proper plural of Flash is: Flashes? Flashs? Flash’s? Those all look horrible.
So there you have it. I do not own a PC or a PS3, but I have been highly considering saving up for a PS3 lately. Along with it’s blu-ray capability, I’d really like to play this game along with other PS3 exclusives such as The Last Guardian and LittleBigPlanet. My only apprehension comes from me not being a big MMO person. I’ve tried several, such as City of Heroes, Final Fantasy XI and EVE Online and it just never worked for me. It’s probably because I had no one to play the games with/I have computers that don’t run games well/I don’t have the patience for it. This does highly intrigue me. I’d love to create my own super hero/villain and run around with heroes and villains I am familiar with. This would be a great time to bring to life Lightning, a Speedster I created when I was in elementary school (and I just found all my old drawings/comics for and am highly considering scanning for this blog, or Awesome Man, my super hero alter-ego. Both heroes had previously resided in the Marvel U, but I’m willing to make exceptions. DCU Online might be the game to turn me if I do end up getting a PS3, but both possibilities are far far down the road regardless.