DC Universe Online
Platforms: PS3, PC
DC Universe Online
up with the same-old, same-old fantasy online worlds? Sick of
Warcraft's generic elves and orcs? This week, a new online role-playing
game steps up to challenge Warcraft's dominance -- and it couldn't be more different than the traditional swords-and-sorcery fare.
Boasting a reported $50 million budget, and a bewildering array of superheroes
and supervillains from DC's bulging back-catalog, DC Universe Online is
an impressively serious assault on the online-world market. Hardly
surprising, considering it hails from Sony's online entertainment
division -- a company that played a significant part in blazing World of
Warcraft's trail with 1999 release, Everquest.
Although the game does boast tons of familiar DC names, like Superman, Wonder
Woman, and Green Lantern, you won't actually be able to step into the
shoes of your favorite character; all the big boys and girls are
computer-controlled. Instead, you'll be able to craft your own original
super-powered alter ego, choosing superpowers, picking allegiances, and
-- of course -- designing a perilously skin-tight costume.
Once that's done, you'll be set loose in DC's world, starting in either
Metropolis or Gotham City, and thrust into an overarching storyline that
pits the heroic Justice League (and a time-traveling Lex Luthor)
against evil android Brainiac. It also won't take you long to notice
that things seem a lot more real than in Warcraft: DC Universe boasts
physics and combat systems that have more in common with modern action
games than your typical online role-playing world.
Innovative though it is, it's got its work cut out taking on Blizzard's behemoth.
Four and a half million copies of World of Warcraft's latest expansion,
Cataclysm, went home with eager buyers over its first month of
availability. DC Universe has the benefit of a broader potential
audience, releasing on the Playstation 3 as well as the PC, but it
remains to be seen whether subscription-based online games can really
find a foothold in the notoriously value-conscious console market.
Playstation owners are used to getting their online play for free, but
DC Universe (on either platform) carries a $14.99/month price-tag on top
of its face price.
But the first hit -- or month, in this case -- is free, and while video
game critics generally prefer to let an online world find its feet
before pronouncing judgement, there's been no shortage of positive
chatter about the game's quality over the last few weeks. For comic-book
fans, or jaded players looking for a break from the Warcraft routine,
DC Universe looks to be well worth a test flight.
Also Out Now:
Victorian Mysteries: Woman in White
Victorian mansions, absorbing gameplay, and a mysterious woman in white all
feature in this dramatic retelling of the Wilkie Collins classic. Can
you discover her terrible secret?
Sneaking out on Xbox Live over the holidays, this quirky platformer has been
gathering outstanding reviews -- including a rare A from 1UP.com.
It's hard enough to challenge seasoned gamers, but it's annoying enough
to put anyone off playing it through, and that's a combination that's
all too rare.
Help fashion writer Jane discover her past lives in this time-travelling
hidden-object hunt. Was she someone rich and famous? Someone poor and
boring? There's only one way to find out.
Reincarnations: Uncover the Past
vu! Or perhaps you've got the hankering to live out another past life
in the second Reincarnations game. This one pits you and colleague Dr.
Herzle in a race against time to find your kidnappers. Once again you'll
explore your past lives, find all sorts of cunningly hidden objects,
and save your own skin. Hop to it.
Kingdom Hearts Re:coded
A new installment in the bizarre Disney-Square crossover series Kingdom
Hearts turns up on the Nintendo DS this week. Although the plot, which
involves hidden messages in Jiminy Cricket's diary, proclamations from
King Mickey Mouse, and levels that hark back to the original Kingdom
Hearts, will seem baffling to outsiders, there's a dedicated contingent
of fans that are sure to push this one way up the charts
A World of Keflings
easily-missed holiday release, A World of Keflings appeared on Xbox
Live just before Christmas, and promptly caused its many fans to spend
their festive season glued to the antics of a tribe of diminutive
city-builders. Addictive, light-hearted, and with cooperative
multiplayer, it'll snare anyone with a weakness for Sim-style
Back to the Future: It's About Time
than two decades after the original Back to the Future movie wowed
cinema-goers, the classic time-traveling franchise is back in vogue. The
first entry in an episodic series of adventure games, It's About Time
boasts an authentic feel -- not to mention the authentic voice of
Christopher Lloyd. Don't miss it.