So I finally finished Brad Meltzer's "Zero Game". Excellent read, would love to have seen it as a movie, written so well I can picture everything as it happens in front of me. Check it out here: Zero Game Site. Also got "The Essential Batman Encyclopedia" (Buy it here) by Robert Greenberger for X-Mas so I have the daunting task of reading that as well as knocking out the book of "Boardwalk Empire" (PLUGS!!!!) that I also got as a gift.
And as if that wasn't enough reading material, I have also entered into my previously declared task of re-reading Matt Fraction's "Uncanny X-Men" run in preparation for blogging about how I feel he is the current incarnation of Chris Claremont (the 80's version of course). That's a 30-40 issue task (thus far) considering the two X-Overs that take place during his run ("Utopia X" & "Second Coming"). Hopefully I'll knock that out before next week and finally get that blog out of my system.
But I've run into a slight roadblock on my route to accomplishing ANY of those tasks anytime soon: the DC Universe Online Beta. Thanks PlayStation Store! Thank you PS Plus! I will gladly give you my money for this, and contrary to what a friend of mine claimed, it's well worth paying the PS Plus fees JUST for DCUO!
I'm sure by now most comic book fans have at least seen the trailer for the game so you have an idea of what it's all about. If not, go to the DCUO website link above and check it out...awesome story concept to frame the game.
See that image up above, that's what my hero character looks like as of midnight last night after collecting various pieces of armament, costumes, and weapons. When he initially started, he somehow ended up looking like Mr. Terrific & Extant had a baby boy. Now, with that helmet, he looks like Stryfe's retarded cousin or something.
Anyway, so after creation you get to select a handful of character traits that determine your abilities, powers, and even a mentor (Batman, Superman, or Wonder Woman for heroes). Then the fanboy marking out begins!!! Break out from Braniac's spaceship and fight alongside Superman! Arrive in Gotham City and chat with Commisioner Gordon, Batwoman, Fire, Robin, and more! Go on missions to save Gotham from Scarecrow, Bane, Poison Ivy, and the Joker! Access the JLA Watchtower (which is amazing in size) and use it to travel to Metropolis where you can battle Trigon, save the city from a Brainiac Invasion force, and rescue Wonder Girl! And when you defeat these villains you are treated to some awesome Jim Lee art sequences that give you a glimpse into the mind of the bad guy you bested, or occassionaly a closer look at the hero you teamed with. I've partnered with Robin, Nightwing, Batwoman, and Bats himself thus far.
But that's not all.....gain enough levels and you're accepted into the JLA...ish. Hawkman and Martian Manhunter sent me on missions across the globe like when I fought aliens in Area 51! Or the Legend Mission where I battled as Batman to hold the Batcave against a pair of very vicious Harley Quinns! Still waiting to get out of the queue so I can do this Arkham Asylum mission though.
And that's the only drawback for me. I'd never experienced any kind of MMORPG-style game (read; World of Warcraf) before so there's certain things that were wierd to me; like getting kicked out of the game for server maintence on my particular world (Beta 3) or having to wait on queue to be able to do missions. This sort of thing was unfamiliar to me, but I'm told it's normal for on-line games like this. It's the most minor of drawbacks, and really, it's only one until I get used to it.
Suffice to say that I am blown away by how fun this game is. A friend of mine is a World of Warcrack junkie and now I can certainly understand why. This type of game makes time just fly by because you can constantly be doing something different. One mission I'm in Gotham saving pod-people from Poison Ivy and the next I'm flying into Gorilla Island to stop Brainiac's incursion there. I pop everytime I encounter a hero/villain for the first time, and loved going on the hunt for Solomon Grundy IN Gotham (he just wanted pants too).
You can just tell the care that was put into making this game as true-to-comics as possible. The layout/presentation of Gotham is exactly what it is in the books. It's a dark, dreary place with few skyscraper-type buildings and it rains on-and-off depending on your location. I feel like there's less people roaming the streets here than in Metropolis, and the buildings generally seem less inhabited as well. Gotham screams urban blight at times while Metropolis really does feel like the City of the Future by comparison. And the highlights of just flying around and touring the city are two-fold; (1) Booster Gold commentary and (2) hidden landmarks like finding two roses in Crime Alley. That right there is the kind of attention only put in by people who have genuine affection for the source material.
Hell, look at the names involved (thanks Wikipedia): Jim Lee serves as the game's Executive Creative Director, along with Carlos D'Anda, JJ Kirby, Oliver Nome, Eddie Nunez, Livio Ramondelli, and Michael Lopez. EverQuest developer Chris Cao is the Game Director and Shawn Lord is also involved. Geoff Johns is the principal writer.
How can you go wrong with Jim Lee directing and Geoff Johns writing?!?!?! As a comic book die-hard & fanboy, DC Universe Online is a great investment of your time and money when it becomes officially available on 1/11/11. And I think it will be price-pointed at $14.99 a month for service (which is the same as WoW I believe), and that's definitely worth the cost. Yeah it sucks spending $60 on a game, and then dropping another $180 for a year worth of service, but for some strange reason I find that excusable when the material is something you care about, even more so when that material is as down right fun as DCUO has been the past week since I downloaded the Beta. I give this game the highest of recommendations...it's like the Grant Morrison of video games ;)
Hopefully I will be back next week with my Matt Fraction blog (finally). Enjoy and hopefully this little rant encourages someone to give DCU Online a chance!