|System: PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Paragon Studios||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: NCSoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Apr. 13, 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|
Of course, this isn't to say that the mission architect system is too simplistic. If anything, it may be too daunting for a majority of players, leaving only a minority willing to spend the time and energy creating missions. Nevertheless, as a stand-alone mission creation tool, the architect system appears to be as simple to use as it can be, given its obvious complexity under the surface.
While a brave few will learn the ropes of creating missions, a majority of players will be spending time wading through the endless void of player-created content. For these individuals, the developers have created an extensive mission browsing tool that resembles most server browsers found in modern FPS games.
Players can sort the available missions by a number of criteria including rating, length, and locale. They can also manually search by typing in keywords and even narrow their searches using advanced filters. Once a players has found a particular mission that looks interesting, he or she can easily see all the important details of that mission by simply clicking on the mission name. The developers even take an interest in the player-created content by occasionally stamping one with a "Developer's Choice" award.
And, as always, what player-created content system would be complete without some form of rating system and social networking feature? Once players have completed a mission, they can not only rate that mission out of five stars, but they can also choose to send a short comment to the author of the mission. In an attempt to keep players from purposefully stacking their ratings, players can only rate a mission once, and only after they've played it.
One thing worth mentioning is the lack of available missions designed for lower level players. The mission architect tool is designed to allow the author to completely customize their missions for all levels, but the trend seems to be that the majority of missions are designed for the mid- to upper-level characters. Therefore, players creating new characters or newcomers first entering the world of City of Heroes may still need to wade through the developer-created content before being able to take part in some of the better player-created missions.
City of Heroes: Architect Edition is a bold step in the right direction for this aging MMORPG. At a time when the latest massively-multiplayer online games feature better graphics, larger worlds, and more polish, features like player-created content tools could be the difference between maintaining and losing subscribers. And, while there isn't a lot of new content outside of the architect system to boast about, there really doesn't need to be. Sure, the mission architect system certainly isn't without its problems, glitches, and limitations, but it does provide a nice distraction from the regular content.
Veterans of the game will enjoy the new features wholeheartedly, while players with canceled subscriptions may want to take the time to reactivate and explore. Unfortunately, Architect Edition doesn't really offer much for gamers wondering whether they should hop into this aging MMO's world. Chances are, if you haven't found a reason to play City of Heroes yet, the Architect Edition isn't going change your mind.
CCC Freelance Writer