DC Universe Online for the PS3 Getting Closer to Golden

DC Universe Online for the PS3 Getting Closer to Golden

  • By: CM Boots-Faubert
  • Posted 12th Jan 2011

DC Universe Online

Also for this game:

The world is fantastic, the graphics are good, you only experience slowdowns when their is a ridiculous amount of activity happening on screen -- there has been an improvement in the video display between the Beta and the finished game, and clearly Sony understands what the player wants from their eyeballs -- if only they could put the time and effort into improving the underpinnings of their online service and its interface, it would be golden.

There has been no noticeable improvement in the mechanisms behind the online service; creating a character, connecting online, and entering the world are still fraught with issues.

The constant disconnections when you are part-way through the process of creating your character makes the process painful, forcing you to start over several times whenever there is high traffic on the PSN network. You get kicked out of the service applying patches all of the time. You get kicked during the login process all the time, though once you actually manage to get signed in and your character is in the game, that problem ceases.

The menu design is at the heart of complaints from users -- using a "Next" button to actually enter the game causes confusion, especially when you are in the process of creating a character, and you hit "Next" thinking you are moving to the next part of the character creation process only to discover that you are now entering the game with a half-formed character.

Keyboards are So Yesterday

You do not want to enter the game without a high quality headset and mic unless you plan to play alone, because the vast majority of players I encountered insist upon voice communications. Using a keyboard is possible but it is so slow and inconvenient that nobody wants to do it.

PS3 players have fewer options for good quality headset and mic combos -- if you are a PC player you can do it with any of the plethora of communications suites that have been around for MMO's for the past ten years -- your mic and speakers on your computer are a well integrated feature in the game. PS3 owners on the other hand are limited to Bluetooth ear-buds and a handful of headsets, with so wide a variation in quality that it is often painful.

The Bad is necessary to Appreciate the Good

Having said that, let's talk about some of the things that I really liked.

At the top of the list is probably the fact that you obtain your motive power right out of the box. There is no getting to Level 10 before you have access to it -- you get it right out of the box. Getting to Level 10 simply upgrades your power -- if you are a runner, you get to run really fast, a flyer? Fly much better!

Your beginnings in the game are as a no-name hero with no reputation -- you obtain your powers, and then how you handle that as you improve and rank up, obtaining advice from Justice League members or taking missions from NPC quest givers, is everything for your progression. Reputation is everything -- the better your reputation, the better your assignments -- and eventually when you have built a solid rep and demonstrated your abilities and your heart, that all-important invitation to join the League will arrive.

I liked that when I started out, although I was facing bush-league henchmen, it is always leading up to a recognizable DC Universe villain -- so I don't feel like I am only ever battling riff-raff. I like that even though you go a certain way in your costume creation, there are not one but two tabs for your appearance. In one tab you apply the bits and pieces of uniform from the different styles you have to choose from, and you can improve your stats by putting them on. If you want a certain look and want to wear those items but do not like the way that they make you look, you can use the second -- appearance -- tab to change the way your character appears to the rest of the world.

One of my missions resulted in my obtaining a Captain Marvel T-Shirt -- even though it did not fit in with the way that I wanted my character to look, I got such a giggle out of being able to wear it that it became the basis for the alternate look of my character.

Using the appearance tab you can lock in the way your character looks and still use items that improve its stats without that impacting its appearance. Don't like helmets but you have one that you like the stats for? Wear it but set your appearance to be sans-helmet.

Your hero role model -- which you choose in the process of creating your character -- appears throughout the game, giving you advice and helping you out. Because you chose a particular person to be your mentor, how you handle the missions you are on often reflect the flavor of the mission -- which means that even though it is the same mission, when you play it again with a different character who has a different mentor, it feels new.

There is a noticeable difference in the story arc depending upon who you choose as your mentor -- and not just between the hero arc and the villain arc either. I cannot put my finger upon why it is, but I always play the good guy. I have a tendency to play the healer -- but in this game you want to try things that are outside of your normal play style. Playing as a villain is a giggle -- you can even choose to be a moral villain if you like, because what you are really fighting for here is a future in which the heroes and villains do not end up at each others throats and kill each other, leaving the planet ripe for Brainiac to take over.

And before you worry that I just unloaded a spoiler -- not -- that information is provided to the player at the very start of the game.

The State of the Game

As of yesterday , Tuesday January 11, the game is now in retail mode, with the Beta behind us. We can only hope that that does not mean that major tweaking is complete, because the interface really needs some TLC, as does the connectivity via the PSN network.

If I was pushed into a corner and had to make a solid recommendation right now, my gut response would be to recommend you play the PC verison of the game and not the PS3 version, because of the PS3 centric issues that presently exist. However, that is only really true if you own a high-end PC. If you don't have a PC or if yours is three or more years old, the PS3 is really the way to go. If you have a high-end rig or can afford to buy one, you will likely enjoy the game more on PC right now.

The future of the PS3 version is there -- as good as it looks now, the developer admits that they have not yet really unlocked the full potential of the PS3 hardware -- and if the past is any indication, being able to deliver a consistent play experience will mean that the PS3 side of the game leads the way as the focal point for improvements as the game develops and expands.

I give DC Universe Online a rating of 8.5 out out of 10 for the PS3 version, and a solid 9 out of 10 for the PC version, adding that I have played both. Note that my PC is an Intel i7-930 with 12GB of RAM built around an ASUS P6T motherboard, so we are not talking slow. My PS3 is the standard slim model.