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  The Toastmaster General 09:54 PM -- Thu July 6, 2006  

Okay, so I got City Of Heroes downloaded, and I played! I say these things to you now:

1. Best character creator EVER. There's just no words for it. Every player looks completely different, and each has their own unique style. It's even fun to just wander around in the city, clicking on other players to read their bios (there's space to write a bio for your character) and see what they did with it. The only righteously bad downfall to it is that you pick your powers, spend a half hour or so designing your looks (it's pure addiction!), then you pick your name... and only once you say you're ready to begin do you find out whether or not your name is already taken. So you spend forever designing a great character, like say Kitty Chaos, only to find it's taken, and you have to tweak to go with a new name. The whole point of the costume is to go along with your name, so it's truly ridiculous that you can't check to see if your name is available before committing the whole thing. My favorite character I made is The Toastmaster General, a fire blaster of course, name thunk up by Sol Hunt, and best name ever at that. He looks like a general, only fiery. I can't believe that name wasn't already taken! We tried to make our plant-looking character be called The Wallflower, but that was taken. Similarly, Agent Red had to become Agent Rojo, and the aforementioned Kitty Chaos became Master Kitty. Disappointing. The Tornado Kid had to become "The Tornado Kid.", because I wasn't about to give up that name! I also had to turn The Doormat (a guy who spent so long getting walked all over by everyone that he just got used to it, and is now invincible - he has a big bullseye on his chest) into The Doormatt, making his real name have to change to Matthew to suit it. Can you believe someone else came up with The Doormat first?

2. It does not feel superheroic to play this game. In fact, it's like they went out of their way to make you feel like a low-ranking beat cop instead. First of all, you get very much led around and sent on missions, so it's like you're a lackie for a larger organization - not heroic. Secondly, the missions they give you initially at least are nicely suited to your level - you smash up a bunch of level 1 and 2 badguys. Problem is, the mission entrances are located in the middle of dangerous zones of level 5 and 6 badguys (one level is a big difference in this game). So this mighty superhero ends up sneaking and running around and away from purse snatchers to get to his mission. That's the biggest kicker to it, really. On the one hand, it's really cool that instead of thugs randomly sitting around like monsters do in other games, the thugs here are actually stealing women's purses. It really makes you want to go after them, even if they are too low level to be worth any experience. On the other hand, what kind of superhero can't take on a purse snatcher?? There's lots of other little things to the game that just pull you out of superheroism. Later in the game it appears to get better, as you become able to fly or super-speed run, but initially, it's more like being a mage in a regular game. You just shoot fireballs at enemies that are just as strong as you. I think that was a design flaw (although maybe necessary for network code reasons) - if you want to make little thugs harmful to a superhero, make him plow through 50 at a time! Then at high levels, supervillains and giant robots.

3. I like it. I'm addicted. But it's really a minimal game. Unlike every other game in the world (possibly excluding Frogger), there's no equipment to collect. You just level up and improve your powers. Well, there are 'enhancements', but there's no surprises to them. It's like if an RPG had only one kind of armor, Chain Mail, and the only difference between different suits was their armor value. And further, you could only use armor values of -3 to +3 your level. So rather than wondering what exciting new stuff you were going to find, you just cross your fingers and hope to stumble across Chain Mail of (mylevel)+3. Totally uninteresting. And yet the game isn't uninteresting. For some reason, I kept wanting to light badguys on fire. I think it will get old quick, though. Already at level 8, the leveling has become painfully slow. Hopefully it will get old quicker than my very little bit of remaining trial time.

4. I'm going on a trip! Augh! I'm going to miss 4 of the last 5 days of my free trial!! Good thing I have an extra trial code. I'll save that for later. After Loonyland 2 is done.

And that's the news from Paragon City. I have actually been working on Loonyland too, don't be fooled by my apparent urban heroism. It's looking good. I should probably put up a sneak peek tomorrow for your viewing pleasure.
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