|System: X360, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Cryptic Studios||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Atari||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sep. 1, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: MMO||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Fortunately, combat is fast and exciting enough that it didn't feel like a grind. In this scenario, the bug-like invaders cropped up frequently everywhere I went, providing plenty of fodder for my fists. You can stop to battle enemies or engage in other heroic activities as you encounter them, regardless of whether or not you're on a specific mission to do so. As I grew stronger and gained more levels, it seemed the variety and toughness of foes increased to keep pace. The few times I was overwhelmed by a gang of insect beasts and succumbed to their blows I simply re-spawned elsewhere in the city.
Selecting enemies to fight is done with mouse clicking or you can just start firing away to automatically lock onto the nearest foe in range. You'll eventually accumulate tons of new combat and movement powers that can be mapped to the numeric keypad on your keyboard. Juggling the WASD keys to move and turn, the mouse to look around and adjust the camera, and the keypad for battle is tricky at first, but it works really well once you get used to it. I can see where things will become a lot more interesting battle-wise when you've attained a high enough level to deck out your hero with more than a few powers. The keypad setup makes it easy to fire them off in rapid succession, though I'm curious to see how this will be handled in the Xbox 360 version.
Speaking with various individuals located around the city gave me opportunities to take on missions for extra experience and other bonuses. Early on, these ranged from taking out specific foes and destroying obstacles, retrieving missing items, delivering information, and other helpful deeds. I also saved an imprisoned superhero comrade, tested a sonic anti-alien device, lent my body out as a punching bag for cops to test their new alien-fighting weaponry on, and defended a huge cannon with other players against waves of enemies. Eventually, I came across a series of missions to wind down the plot for the scenario. I fought my way into the alien-infested Champions HQ for a boss battle against a megalomaniac in a giant robot suit of power armor and then took down the contraptions he was using to influence the invading forces. Saving the day, my hero was praised in a ceremony and then presented with the next major mission to dive into. At this point I was able to buy a cool web-swinging power and add a force-choke attack into my ability queue before launching into the next scenario which appeared to be set in a desert location.
Based on our time in Champions Online, I'd say Cryptic has a potential homerun on its hands. The character customizability is first-rate, and adventuring around the city in an early scenario taking on missions and improving my heroic might proved to be a ton of fun. We're eager to see how other locations, powers, features, settings, and PvP action will be implemented in the final game, but Champions Online already holds a lot of promise. Keep your eyes peeled for our full review when the game launches later this year.
CCC Staff Contributor