Review: DC Universe Online


I jumped at the opportunity when the question arose as to who would like to review DC Universe Online(DCUO). I have been playing MMO games since way back when World of Warcraft didn’t even exist. I’ve played Anarchy Online, Dark Age of Camelot, Neocron 1 & 2, Eve Online, the short lived APB and several others as well. The first MMO on the PlayStation platform that came out at exactly the same time that the PC version came out was one I had to play.

I came home after a stressfull monday only to find a mysterious package in the mail. DC Universe Online had arrived. Within the package I found a nice leather bound map featuring villains on one side and heroes on the other. Included are two discs, a game disc and a disc with promotional stuff. I popped in the disc and it asked me to redeem the voucher code.

After booting the disc I’m welcomed to download v1.03 which entails a staggering 10GB. As if that itself isn’t enough, another 3GB download starts after the installation of the initial 10 GB. Thank god for 30 Mbits/s Cable or I would have been up all night waiting for this download to finish :)

Finally the game boots. I choose a PvP server and start making my first DCUO Avatar. The first choice you’ll have to make is whether you want to battle evil or be evil. In every RPG game I’ve ever played I have always been the holy-always-do-good type of guy. This time it won’t be any different. I choose Hero and start configuring my very own superhero “Mr Niceguy”. Mr Niceguy is a hero of the flying type who likes to kill his adversaries with his fists and by throwing ice picks in their eyes.

After carefully picking my new hero’s wardrobe I started up the game for real. The game drops the new players right into the action with a fast paced tutorial level. You are trapped on the new arch enemy Brainiac’s ship and need to break out. The tutorial lays out the basic controls and holds your hand along the way out. After completing the level my new superhero Mr Niceguy had reached level 3.

Once outside the game holds your hand and points you to the next mission marker, a bit like Saints Row 2 does. All the action is fast paced and at least at these lower levels you don’t really die, but you get worn out and need to flee the battlefield. After reaching level 5 my first session came to a stop after my wife reminded me I promised to put our baby to bath, which I forgot. That means that the addiction levels are spot on. My social life will have known that I’m playing this game.

Something totally different that I noticed is that there isn’t much going on on chat channels. Chatting is implemented as in PlayStaiton Home. A big keyboard comes to the front where you can type your sentence word for word, well actually letter per letter. This is in my opinion a real drag and seeing that the game is action packed, it’s an ideal time to get ganked as well.

In my following sessions I explored what team play can do for your game experience. When each of the team is on a mission it is really fun. The funniest part being that you can’t predict who the person you team up with is and how he or she is like. I teamed up with one guy from Manchester who was burping, singing (out of key) and from time to time ranting about bugs he found. In real life I would have run away from this person, however in-game I found it quiet entertaining.

It was then that I first tasted PvP in the game, it hasn’t been the last time either. Especially when you are grouped or when several hero’s are in the neighborhood it is common for the heroes to go after the villains and vice versa. On one occasion I just postponed one of my missions because there were to many villains around. It seems that both camps are required in the same hunting areas, only the bad guys have other orders then the good guys.

There are several kinds of missions to be run, going from sightseeing tours, to single player missions, to raids (group missions) and arena’s. Most of the special missions which are amongst others the raids, alerts and arena are initialized from the menu. You’ll be queued up to enter an instance and when it’s ready you can go and play it. The main heroes are Superman, Wonder woman and Batman. Each of their hometowns is in the game. All single player missions are located in this world.

A typical mission starts with a hero in need of your help. You start slowly with taking out some minions and searching for clues. Not that you really have to do anything besides bashing your DualShock3 controller. After the first area you move to a second, a third and as finale you have to enter a separate dungeon. After fighting your way through the dungeon it is time to save a hero and together you beat the villain that captured your hero friend in the first place. Typically the boss will spawn minions that you have to fight before his invulnerability field drops so you can bash him. After four to five waves you slay the boss and you’ll be shown some exclusive DC comic animation. Job well done, now it is time to hit the safe house and read your mail and receive your mission reward from the hero you just saved.

The safe houses for heroes are the police departments scattered over the world. Each police department has a transporter to the space base of the heroes. There you can remap your skills, hang out and do some side missions. You’ll also be able to transport to any police department from the space station.

So far the contents of the game. Lets have a look at the technical side of things. In general the game plays fluent and the graphics are on par with what you can expect from such a title. The in game menu’s are very intuitive. There are however some downsides too. The in game menu’s are prone to lag. In general you have to wait about a second before the next window pops up. I’ve found the connection to the game server to be unstable, especially when a player idles around. When the connection drops the game informs you that a connection with the PlayStation Network is needed in order to play. I checked and I wasn’t disconnected from the PlayStation Network. I know that it is a minor detail, but I still found it strange.

During my playtime I had one game freeze where the only thing I could do was reboot my PlayStation 3. During game play one can notice the lag on the mini map. Luckily WB Games and SOE opted to prioritize the targets on the map. This ensures that you can see the villains before spotting the hordes of NPC characters.

The game itself plays like a good action bash’em up. It did keep my attention span for a couple of weeks where I would invest as much of my free time that I could spare. Unfortunately the lack of inter player interaction meant that players are generally pushed to perform the single player missions, which become pretty repetitive after a while.

  • Move to area
  • Find NPC for side quest
  • Bash away
  • Repeat about 3 times
  • Go to boss den

Even with a great variety in enemies, bashing is bashing and if you have to repeat the above the whole time the game gets dull. Unless you don’t mind paying the subscription fee and just play it on and off whenever there is a gap within the release schedule of your favorite future games.

A final point of grief is the downloads and installs necessary for this game. As reported in the beginning of the article I had to download gigabytes of data to update my client. Now while writing this article I’m updating to version 1.05 and again I have to download about 2 Gb? The game told me initially that the update would only be 121 Mb. I can’t believe that the bug fixes in this patch alone account to 2 Gb of data. So I’m left wondering why I have to do such a big install.

To summarize it’s a fun game if you’re a DC fan of the first hour and love to mindlessly bash on buttons the whole time. It’s an enjoyable game if you like to play it on and off now and again, but then you have to cancel and resubscribe when you feel like playing the game. For most players however it is a title that is fun to play for about a month and then let it go and move on to greener pastures.

Review

ProsCons
DC Lore
Tutorial
Controls
Atmosphere
Huge Downloads/Installs
Repetitive
You feel so lonely in game
Lack of depth
Rating
65%

This review is based on a retail copy of the PS3 version of DC Universe Online provided by Sony Online Entertainment.

* A copy of DC Universe Online was provided to PS3Blog.net by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe for reviewing purposes. The game was played on the PvP server “Absolute Power”. The character has been played for a month and is currently level 17. Unlocked content was played as much as possible. Most of the game is tested on version 1.04. Version 1.05 was downloaded during the writing of this review


Written by: SL33PY - News Contributor


  1. #1 by Oly on February 22nd, 2011 [ 131925 Points ]

    Great review, I still haven’t wanted to invest the 15/month to play, but might pick it up when it’s on sale to play a month or two.
    “Now while writing this article I’m updating to version 1.05 and again I have to download about 2 Gb? The game told me initially that the update would only be 121 Mb. I can’t believe that the bug fixes in this patch alone account to 2 Gb of data. So I’m left wondering why I have to do such a big install.”
    Is it possible you have to dl 2gb but it replaces a similar sized file?

  2. #2 by Royalty32 on February 22nd, 2011

    Im havin a lot of fun with DCUO. Though i must say the install time was CRAZY long. Building ur own super hero is fun. This is my first time ever playing a MMO and i must say its pretty hard. What i mean is like if ur a level 6 doin a level 8 mission ur gonna get crushed. My score for the game is an 8/10.

  3. #3 by SL33PY on February 22nd, 2011 [ 2371 Points ]

    @oly, since the initial install was 10Gb and the 1.03 patch was 3Gb, I didn’t really noticed the 1.04 patch, so it was smaller sized. I don’t know where their huge patches come from.

  4. #4 by Darrin on February 22nd, 2011 [ 17143 Points ]

    Wow, that was a harsh review.

    All MMOs are highly repetitive and partially mindless. I love WoW; it’s completely repetitive and mindless but somehow it’s a soothing and fun way to relax. It’s addicting to level up your stats, crafting, gear, and skills, and discover the new areas, and conquer the next instance, etc.

    Does DCUO not deliver this type of addiction for more than a few hours?

    I briefly tried the DCUO beta: I’m interested, but I’m skeptical about the actiony combat. Obviously, that was purposefully designed that way, but I’m not sure if I’d appreciate long term button mashy combat over the more relaxed hotkey combat of WoW.

    The install/patch is definitely annoying, but I think I can handle that. WoW and other MMOs have definitely had outrageous install/patch issues. Plus WoW was excessively buggy for months at a time during its first few years.

  5. #5 by Captiosus on February 22nd, 2011 [ 20 Points ]

    Wow. 65% is generous.

    Chat is terrible, menus are laggy, loot is a joke, the game suffers repeat lockups, graphical texture pop ins, characters repeatedly getting stuck in textures (I was stuck in a rock texture in Gotham’s Pillar of Hades for 2 days because Warp and Teleport consumables didn’t work, and there’s no in game support option), et cetera, et cetera.

    I won’t rehash my own review, but to say, on its merits, as a button mashing platformer it’s nowhere near as good as others and as an MMO, it fails horribly at even the most basic of MMO functions.

  6. #6 by Markus on February 22nd, 2011 [ 4322 Points ]

    It has it’s good points. DC lore is very entertaining. Having super powers is a blast. In general though, the games content needs a lot of work and the UI needs a lot of fine tuning.

    Idk how any MMO gets released with shitty chat functions. This is so basic for a MMO! I think 65 is a bit harsh though, maybe a 70. Hopefully they iron out some of the issues that they are having.

  7. #7 by Kane112 on February 22nd, 2011 [ 33422 Points ]

    looks like most people are giving this game a beating

  8. #8 by SL33PY on February 23rd, 2011 [ 2371 Points ]

    @Darrin there is a big difference between WoW and DCUO, being that Wow has crafting, interesting gear and it is huge. DCUO has none of those. The only thing interesting about the gear you can buy of vendors in each safe house is to see how the equipment changes your stats. I gave it a 65 because lovers of the genre would give it a 70, newer players to the MMO genre have no comparison so they wouldn’t object to the virtual emptiness and to me it really only deserves a 60

  9. #9 by Ryan on February 23rd, 2011

    The other big difference between WOW and DCUO is WOW has been out for seven years now. I’ve been playing WOW since release and in comparison to techinical issues and bugs compared to DCUO theres nothing out of the ordinary, WOW’s release bugs and updates along with server queues were quite painful to say the least.

    However it sounds like quite a fair review, although its still early days for a life of an MMO, and as with all mmos only time will tell if they update the nagging issues like the laggy menus, lack of chat. My main issue with DCUO is as you said the chat is non exsistent, and lets face it the whole “Social” side of MMOs is what makes them great.

    The patches are quite big but the 2gb one that was just released wasn’t just bug fixes, there was a lot of content added raid wise, an auction house and loads of new items.

    I’m really enjoying the game so far, at level 19 myself, the whole deciding point in any MMO though is the end game content, so lets see if it is any different at 30…….

  10. #10 by pedro on February 23rd, 2011 [ 39949 Points ]

    Finally a honest review. Thank you very much.

    Wouldn’t spend my time with any of this modern age MMOs (well…i might be speaking too soon since the new Star Wars MMO seems pretty awesome…).

    Great work.

  11. #11 by Captiosus on February 23rd, 2011 [ 20 Points ]

    Ryan: The other big difference between WOW and DCUO is WOW has been out for seven years now.I’ve been playing WOW since release and in comparison to techinical issues and bugs compared to DCUO theres nothing out of the ordinary, WOW’s release bugs and updates along with server queues were quite painful to say the least.However it sounds like quite a fair review, although its still early days for a life of an MMO, and as with all mmos only time will tell if they update the nagging issues like the laggy menus, lack of chat.My main issue with DCUO is as you said the chat is non exsistent, and lets face it the whole “Social” side of MMOs is what makes them great.The patches are quite big but the 2gb one that was just released wasn’t just bug fixes, there was a lot of content added raid wise, an auction house and loads of new items.I’m really enjoying the game so far, at level 19 myself, the whole deciding point in any MMO though is the end game content, so lets see if it is any different at 30…….  

    I have a couple problems with this.

    Yes, WoW has been out 7 years. Yes, release WoW was buggy. But how many MMOs had Blizzard created prior to WoW?
    Zero.

    City of Heroes was a bug fest when it first came out. But before CoH, how many MMOs had Cryptic Studios created prior?
    Zero.

    How many MMOs has SOE created since 1999?
    SOE practically gave BIRTH to the graphical MMO genre. They have had more products in this genre than any other studio. In fact, you could combine Blizzard, Turbine and Cryptic and SOE would still have more products in the genre. Giving them a pass on bugs because “other mmos had bugs” is a terrible excuse. Simple bugs that break the game such as the doors not opening and blocking progress in dungeons and raids, getting stuck in textures, animation clipping not ending the damage function, giving rise to people exploiting in PVP, et cetera, were all brought up in beta. All left unaddressed. There isn’t even a freakin’ in-game support option – you have to go to a website!

    As for end game, let me save you the trouble.

    End game content at 30 is doing the same Duos and Alerts once-per-day, endlessly, to grind marks which consists, in large part, of doing content you have already done while leveling with a few new level 30 Alerts. Then go into PVP and grind your daily marks. Then struggle to get into a weekly raid for marks and a chance at loot under a wonky loot system. All the while hoping you don’t get placed in a bugged instance and have to restart. There’s nothing to manually grind at max cap, other than the few races that are around, so your entire “game play” experience consists of sitting in a safehouse, or in the Watchtower or Hall of Doom waiting for your queue to pop. Nothing else.

    It’s basically the same system as when WoW moved to giving badges for everything and implemented LFD. No reason to go out into the world unless you’re on a PVP server and want to gank people. To me, there’s a difference between a grind and a chore. Grinds can be fun. Chores feel like you log in and need to do something only to log out again. DCUO’s end game is a chore.

  12. #12 by Ryan on February 23rd, 2011 [ 110 Points ]

    Captiosus:
    I have a couple problems with this.Yes, WoW has been out 7 years. Yes, release WoW was buggy. But how many MMOs had Blizzard created prior to WoW?
    Zero.City of Heroes was a bug fest when it first came out. But before CoH, how many MMOs had Cryptic Studios created prior?
    Zero.How many MMOs has SOE created since 1999?
    SOE practically gave BIRTH to the graphical MMO genre. They have had more products in this genre than any other studio. In fact, you could combine Blizzard, Turbine and Cryptic and SOE would still have more products in the genre.Giving them a pass on bugs because “other mmos had bugs” is a terrible excuse. Simple bugs that break the game such as the doors not opening and blocking progress in dungeons and raids, getting stuck in textures, animation clipping not ending the damage function, giving rise to people exploiting in PVP, et cetera, were all brought up in beta. All left unaddressed. There isn’t even a freakin’ in-game support option – you have to go to a website!As for end game, let me save you the trouble.End game content at 30 is doing the same Duos and Alerts once-per-day, endlessly, to grind marks which consists, in large part, of doing content you have already done while leveling with a few new level 30 Alerts. Then go into PVP and grind your daily marks. Then struggle to get into a weekly raid for marks and a chance at loot under a wonky loot system. All the while hoping you don’t get placed in a bugged instance and have to restart. There’s nothing to manually grind at max cap, other than the few races that are around, so your entire “game play” experience consists of sitting in a safehouse, or in the Watchtower or Hall of Doom waiting for your queue to pop. Nothing else.It’s basically the same system as when WoW moved to giving badges for everything and implemented LFD. No reason to go out into the world unless you’re on a PVP server and want to gank people. To me, there’s a difference between a grind and a chore. Grinds can be fun. Chores feel like you log in and need to do something only to log out again. DCUO’s end game is a chore.  

    Hmm interesting and i get your views, but still my statement of “In comparison to DCUO theres nothing out of the ordinary” Is not giving them a pass, or even an excuse, in the mmo era its a common occurence, in fact i don’t believe i have ever played an mmo on release without a bucket load of bugs.

    Yes the severity of the bugs that are in this game are game breaking, but i can think of loads of other mmos that had the same problems, City of Heroes, Age of Conan, Matrix Online, Champions etc the list goes on. Is it acceptable ? In my book no, but hey thats mmo’s for us.

    I quoted WoW, as it is generally the game to set the bar so to speak because of its success over the years and the fact that its still going strong as ever. But regardless of how many games developers make in the mmo genre they still come out buggy as hell.

    I have no love for SOE ever since the killed Star Wars Galaxies with the so called NGE (New Game Enhancements), even though the whole entire community told them they didn’t want them they carried on with it and killed the game by chopping off its head lol.

    The bottom line with any mmo and how long it will last comes down to the support, some are really good, some are really bad, no need to name names we all know whos who in that department.

    If the game truly has no end game content and/or doesn’t get some soon like you say it’ll die out quick enough.

    I’m still intrigued to see if this game will spark any other mmo releases on “consoles”. Regardless of the outcome i was just excited to see an mmo released on a console, and hopefully it will continue.


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