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Denny Markovic
18 Sep, 2009

Champions Online Review

PC Review | It's fun being a champ.
Most people who are comic book fans or gamers have probably imagined at least once what their own superhero would be like. Lightning infused hands with ice sliding abilities or a web slinger that uses the power of telekinesis, the gamers mind goes wild with imagination. Fortunately with a game like Champions Online, most of your dreams of super heroes and spandex-wearing champions can be realised. But apart from its crazy versatility, is the game itself worthy of championing your hard drive?

So let’s get the first question out of the way: Champions Online is an MMORPG, much like that of World of Warcraft, in which you pay monthly to play in a massive world filled with thousands of other players. Champions however gives you the ability to go crazy with your character creation. With the world being a fictional universe where heroes and villains appear from all over the place, you’d want each hero and champion to act and play differently and boy do they do.

Champions strongest feature is quite easily its customisation in character creation, and versatility in classes. Want to have a power armoured, 7 foot tall wolf-man that has wolverine claws and flies around with jet boots? You can. Things can get whacky and completely out of this world with the customisation, where you literally can change everything about your character to suit what kind of hero you want to be seen as. This creates a very inviting and exciting atmosphere in the game world itself, where you’ll never see the exact same kind of hero twice, and adds to the fun nature of the game.

Fire Titan is Furious.

Fire Titan is Furious.
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And that’s a very solid asset to have when you’re playing a game that is virtually a massive grind to the end-game. The beginning of the game pretty much works out just like that of traditional MMO’s, where you rummage through a start area picking up quests and levelling up, learning your abilities and your classes powers as you go. Killing mobs and collecting items for people is the typical flavour of the day, but though this usually feels tedious and somewhat slow, Champions makes it feel much more fast paces and frenetic, mainly because of how easy it is.

Unlike other MMO’s, Champions feels far more accessible from the get-go, with drop-rates on items being extremely high and mob hunting being fun and challenging and not too challenging as to cause frustration. It makes for a very easy and quick levelling process in the beginning areas, helping you ease into the game far more and be immersed into its comical and imaginative world. And even after the starting areas, Champions still retains a solid and enjoyable romp. Travel powers will be given to you and these range from teleporting, rocket jumping, rocket boots, flying and much, much more. It’s also a free power too, so zooming around the world doing quests is even quicker and more enjoyable than before. Unlike other MMO’s the ability to get around the world easily is handed to you early in the game, giving you a solid sense of power early on and once more allowing you to ease into the game. It’s a clever decision on Cryptic Studios part, as it doesn’t make returning-MMO players shy away from the tedium of the grind, or the newbies run from the intimidation of the amount of things to do. There’s a good balance between hardcore and casual, which is admirable when it comes to the genre.

I keep my pimp hand strong.

I keep my pimp hand strong.
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Class wise the game has quite a few choices as well, ranging from Power Armour, Dual Swords, Munitions, Fire powers and a whole lot more. Each frame work feels fairly different from one other and seems to be mostly balanced when it comes to PVP, so once more uniqueness within each character prevails. Character frameworks can also be slightly mixed and matched too, with your character being able to take some abilities from Munitions and Power Armour in order to have a more dynamic character. It adds a lot of replayability to the game as well, with so many different frameworks to pick from.

Apart from the grinding and quests, you’ve also got PVP ‘cage matches’ which is basically like Battlegrounds from WoW, though it’s not factions against each other but just players split into teams. The objective is to get a set amount of kills against the other team in order to win, so the premise is simple. It’s an enjoyable romp particularly because of the different classes and abilities, and is a great area in which some people can show off their skills whether it be in the art of teleporting all over the place or going nuts with their power armour. The only downside is that it’s not exactly fleshed out but more tacked on, but at least it’s fun while it lasts. You’ve also got a bunch of instance-like areas basing themselves around certain key stories, which are fun and great in groups, however we felt there weren’t enough of these. What is there though is good and will satiate the hunger for most non-hardcore MMO players.

Gas wind strike!

Gas wind strike!
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Champions looks quite nice, with stylised cel-shaded visuals mixed with an abundance of vibrant colours, complementing the great art style. The engine used takes advantage of many of the latest visual capabilities such as ambient occlusion, so you’re certainly getting a pretty looking title. The only problem is performance can be a little inconsistent, with jitteriness and slow down’s sometimes being fairly noticeable on a Quad Core, 4GB DDR2 and 8800 GTX. This was also apparent when settings were toned down, so the optimisation was fairly weak. Most recent patches have fixed a few of the stutters and slow down’s, however the issue is still noticeable enough, so unless you have a powerful computer, be prepared to lower your settings.

Champions Online feels like a far more casual version of MMO-play than the usual ultra-grind-fests. It’s easy to get into, very accessible and customisation is absolutely enormous. That being said, there’s a solid amount of content for the end-game, and good incentive to progress higher up to level 40, the level cap (level 25 in particular is a highlight, as you create your own arch-nemesis). The only problem is that for the more hardcore players, the content could be blitzed through in no time, so the lastability of Champions is questionable when it comes to the hardcore. Nonetheless, the quality of Champions is certainly evident and Cryptic have done a fine job of creating an accessible and fun world to fly around in with your spandex-wearing heroes. Let’s just hope they add more content soon for the hardcore soon.
The Score
Champions Online is a fun and accessible MMO that doesn't quite do anything really new, but keeps things enjoyable and dynamic. 8
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related Champions Online Content

Champions Online to be free to play
27 Oct, 2010 Time to dust off the cape and mask.
Updated European release list, 26/02/07
26 Feb, 2007 Maybe next week.
Updated European release list, 19/02/07
19 Feb, 2007 Final curtain call.
1 Comment
4 years ago
i suspect that most of this market would be committed to city of heroes
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  10/09/2009 (Confirmed)
Standard Retail Price:
  $79.95 AU
Publisher:
  Namco Bandai Partners (Atari)
Genre:
  RPG
Year Made:
  2008
Players:
  1
System Requirements:
Minimum System Requirements
* OS:Windows XP SP2/ Windows Vista/Windows 7
* CPU:2.5GHz Single Core or 1.8GHz Dual Core
* Memory:1GB RAM
* Video:NVIDIA GeForce 7600 / ATI Radeon X700 or HD / Intel GMA 4
* Sound:DirectX 9.0c Compatible Soundcard
* DirectX:Version 9.0c or Higher
* HDD:5GB Free Disk Space
* Network:Broadband Required
* Disc:6X DVD-ROM
Recommended System Configuration
* OS:Windows XP SP2/ Windows Vista/Windows 7 (32 or 64-bit)
* CPU:Intel E8400 Core2Duo or Better
* Memory:2GB RAM or Better
* Video:NVIDIA GeForce 8800 or Better / ATI Radeon HD 3850 or Better
* Sound:DirectX Compatible Soundcard
* DirectX:Version 9.0c or Higher
* HDD:5GB Free Disk Space
* Network:Broadband Required
* Disc:6X DVD-ROM or Better

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