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Posts Tagged ‘superheroines’

I Make This Cape And Tights Look Good

September 15th, 2009 No comments

Champions Online launched last week, and it’s already been a colossal drain on my free time. I’ve got a half dozen active characters, mostly to try out some different superhero concepts.

I’ve concentrated on a gadgeteer named Toygirl, whose signature move is to unleash “Attack Toys” on her foes. From what I can tell, the Attack Toys power is much maligned by the CO gaming community for putting out too little damage, and indeed, I don’t think I’ve seen anyone else use it. But come on, I have a chance to unleash killer teddy bears and toy soldiers, and I’m not gonna take it? I don’t think so.

Fighting Foxbat in a TV studio.

My initial impression of Champions is that it’s a superhero amusement park. Wherever you travel, there’s something going on. In addition to the standard missions doled by my “contacts,” sometimes a bystander will run up and tell me, for example, that he’s just seen a bunch of robots run into a museum. Last night I happened across a bank robbery in progress.

Then there are the so-called “open missions,” which repeatedly recur in certain areas of the map. They’re typically big brawls involving a dozen or so heroes against a major menace, and the interesting thing is that you can join them in progress and compete for points. (The winners get the best loot, but everyone who participates gets a prize.)

Somewhere in the middle of this is one poor supervillain.

As you can see from the screenshots, it’s a beautiful looking game. The main map is Millennium City, a sprawling metropolis built on the ruins of Detroit. I enjoy simply swooping around on Toygirl’s jet sneakers, buzzing between buildings and through the legs of statues.


Another early impression is that Champions seems to encourage solo play much more than City of Heroes/City of Villains did. In CoX, I couldn’t take two steps without someone inviting me to join their team or guild. I’ve temporarily teamed up with another player to take on a troublesome mob (“mob” is Massive Multiplayer Online game slang for a “mobile object,” aka a thing what attacks you), but have yet to pursue or even to be invited onto a team for an evening. There are some missions that are recommended for two or three heroes, but I hear that some people even go solo on those.

Dinosaur Jones makes aliens extinct!

On the other hand, the game also encourages player vs. player (PvP) combat, to the extent that even I’ve joined in. This is my fourth MMO game (Asheron’s Call, Star Wars Galaxies, City of Heroes), but the first in which I felt comfortable enough to battle other players. In the past, my relative ineptitude with the controls and with the intricacies of creating a character designed to make other players cry left me unwilling to take on snotty game punks.

The nice thing about the PvP combat in Champions is that it’s a five-on-five cage match, with participants more-or-less randomly assigned. Everyone is set to fight as if they’re a Level 20 character, and there’s no penalty for losing a match. So, even though I still suck at it, I’ve actually had fun in most of my PvP battles. I’ve even been on the winning team a few times!

Excuse me, can you direct me to Tiananmen Square?

There’s been a fair amount of in-jokiness so far. The TV studio mission pictured above has one saving thinly-disguised members of the cast of the movie Anchorman. I also played a couple of scenarios clearly inspired by John Carpenter’s They Live, including a parking lot fight against a parody of Rowdy “Roddy” Piper.

As might be expected, the character creation system is even more robust than the one for City of Heroes. (Cryptic Studios designed both games.) One can play all manner of demons, angels, aliens, furries and even gorillas.

Meet Two-Gun Gorilla!

As seen in "For a Few Bananas More."

And here’s my attempt at mixing powers from different sets. Chillblain (who probably needs a better name) is a combination fire/ice thrower.

His suit keeps hot things hot, and cool things cool.

Meanwhile, if only to prove that I’m not above prurient interest in my superheroine designs, here’s Bettie Bombshell.

Call my party line at 900-555-BOMB!

Finally, here’s an alternate costume for Toygirl. One can preset multiple “builds” for one’s character that can be toggled back and forth depending upon whether one is playing an offensive, defensive or support role, so I came up with an appropriately beefed-up look for her more aggressive mode.

I'm my own action figure!

Sorry, I’ve got to go. There are aliens coming, and I’ve got a city to save!

Oh. This is not good.

Putting On Tights Again

August 20th, 2009 No comments

After a couple of days of downloading, patching, downloading again, repatching and smacking my head against the tabletop, last night I was able to join the Champions Online open beta. The superhero role-playing game goes officially live next week, but they opened up the beta test for those who pre-ordered.

You may recall that I used to play City of Heroes, a similar MMORPG. Both games were designed by Cryptic Studios, though City was eventually handed off to South Korean company NCsoft. My initial reaction to Champions Online is that it’s more of the same, except better.

One obvious improvement over City is that one has much more control over the look of one’s heroes. There are dozens of slider controls to tweak both facial features and physique. Unlike the older game, it’s actually possible to play a small-breasted (or no-breasted, if you’re into that) female character.

There also appears to be greater variety of character archetypes. At first glance, it doesn’t seem to lock one into a specific role (“scrapper,” “blaster,” “tank”). Instead, beginning character builds are based on their power sets. I noticed that at least some powers can be modified; for example, I was able to make one of my psychic attacks emerge from my head, hand or even chest.

My first character was an attempt to recreate my favorite from City of Heroes, Ms. Mesmer. I really like the spiral effect on her costume. Not so crazy about the hood; it’s big and dorky. But at least she gets a cape from day one. In City, heroes could only don them after reaching Level 20. While I understand that the idea was that it made a cape an obvious status symbol and a reward for long-term play, it was pretty silly that you couldn’t just tie a towel around your neck, same as any five-year-old pretending to be Superman.

I took Mesmer out for a spin through the tutorial levels last night. It took me quite a while to get the controls to my liking, and to stop auto-running into a group of angry alien insects. I’m not familiar enough with the pen-and-paper role-playing game on which the online Champions is based to fully understand the attribute scores that describe my character’s capabilities. (The original RPG was so insanely complex that an advanced degree in mathematics was helpful when trying to get the most of your superhero.)

Gameplay so far seems like a familiar mix of missions: “Go beat up 30 bad guys,” “Go take this piece of paper over there,” etc. Hopefully there will be more to it once the full experience is up and running.

Ms. Mesmer takes on the Black Talon!One thing that doesn’t seem to be active I haven’t been able to try yet* is the aspect of Champions Online I find most appealing: the ability to create one’s own archenemy. It came to bug me that in City of Heroes, ¬†everyone was fighting the same set of supervillains. To me, every great hero needs at least one really compelling rival that’s all his/her own. Batman has the Joker, Spider-Man has the Green Goblin, Betty has Veronica. Supposedly, Champions will include in the character creation process the opportunity to design a custom villain who will be computer-controlled, and will dog that hero’s career. I’m looking forward to introducing Ms. Mesmer to the dreaded Mr. Remsem!

And now, here’s a sneak peek at my first new character for Champions Online:

Dinosaur Jones, Prehistoric Adventurer of the Spaceways!

* Apparently, I was wrong about the “archenemy” thing. I’ve read that you don’t get that perk until Level 25. That seems awfully late in one’s superheroic career.

A Superheroine’s View

November 10th, 2004 No comments

Playing, as I do, a number of female characters in City of Heroes, I’ve encountered my share of other players (presumably male, presumably young) hitting on me.

I don’t quite understand this. Surely, computer savvy folks should have some clue that there’s absoultely no reason that a digital avatar should in any way resemble the person on the other side of the screen. And besides, if I looked anything like “Ms. Mesmer,” I most definitely wouldn’t be stuck in the basement playing a computer game on a Saturday night.

It’s a weird feeling. I’ve rarely been hit on in real life, and only once by another guy. (I was working stage crew on La Cage Aux Folles.) It does give me some sense of what it may be like for certain women, fending off unwanted, uncomfortable advances.

Last night, I was playing “Rachel Sullivan,” my psychic defender. (She’s a psychic who defends, not someone who specializes in protecting palmists and astrologers.) Some guy made a comment about my character, which, despite being delivered in what I assume to be “leet-speak,” left me with the impression that he thought I was hot. (I replied, “Are you speaking in binary?” to which he had no answer.)

With that in mind, I submitted the following op-ed piece to the “Paragon Times,” the fictional newspaper that appears in the back of the monthly comic book that goes to City of Heroes subscribers. Keep in mind that this is written as if it were being penned by “Ms. Mesmer.”

Heroines of Paragon City, you’ve all had it happen to you: comments about your revealing costume, offers to “team up” that don’t include cracking Skulls. Most male heroes are virtuous, of course, but there are always a few less interested in your assets than your–

Look guys, we can’t help that we all look like swimsuit models. We don’t have the option to put on a few pounds. And it’s true that many of us wear skimpy and/or skin-tight costumes, for reasons ranging from ease of movement to temperature control. That’s not your invitation for inappropriate remarks in the workplace.

If you want our help on a difficult mission, remember that we’re every bit as worthy of respect as any muscle-bound, mutagen-fueled uberdude. Keep your hands where we can see them, and keep your comments to yourself.

Wonder if it’ll see print. I kinda doubt it, since it might be seen as an acknowledgement that their virtual world isn’t necessarily friendly (or rather, is a bit too friendly) towards women.