As a five year veteran of MMORPG's, when City of Heroes was first announced I thought it was just another company trying to get a quick cash in on the seemingly booming genre. And as such, I ignored it. Never heard of the company developing it so it couldn't be good right? Wrong. Cryptic Studios struck gold with their new release. For all those fans of MMOG's who want a new game; who are tired of elves and dragons, City of Heroes may be the game for you.
The best part of this game, easily, is the fact that I don't have to set aside special time for this game. I don't have to plan my life around the time I can play to advance my character. I can pick it up at anytime, play for awhile, and notice that I did something. No more of those pesky 4 hour stretches where you barely notice your character advance. No more logging on and waiting around for hours, hoping and begging for groups, because your particular class can't solo to save their lives. No, in CoH everyone can solo if they need, though it's not quite as chaotic as grouping, it can be fun. And finally, no more sitting in one spot, waiting for hours, and hours, for a special guy to spawn, so I can get his loot.
City of Heroes solved the loot camping problem by making it so there is no loot. You level up, you go find a trainer, and pick a new skill. There are also enhancements, which you stick onto skills that drop randomly off mobs, but they are not rare by any means; and if you don't get the ones you like, go sell it and buy one you do like. Buffs also drop off mobs that you can use to heal yourself, raise your accuracy, or damage, replenish your endurance etc. So characters that do have a little trouble soloing can get breaks from these randomly, and frequently dropped buffs.
The combat in CoH is quite nice as well. There isn't an auto-attack feature, instead each attack is a button, with different refresh times. Eventually you'll learn the best way to chain them, maximizing the potential of your skills.. Your character will lock onto the target, but won't stay in range, you can however set you character to follow them, and stay in range with the press of a button. There is also some deeper strategy involved in combat, for example; some skills have the ability to stun an enemy, or knock them to the ground, or even knock them back quite aways. It's important to use these wisely; for example, if you are in a group and there are alot of tankers and scrappers (melee) it would be wise to stun them, and root them, and slow them; but knocking them back is not always the best idea, because then all the melee have to chase after them, and can cause more enemies to join in.
Travel in CoH is also painless, there are train stations all over, that take you all Paragon City. The average wait time for the next train to come around seems to be about 10 seconds. In addition to this, everyone starts off with a skill called sprint, that can always be active without hurting your endurance, also it can be upgraded to make you run faster. And still, you can upgrade your travel further, by choosing to fly, hover, super jump, super speed, or even teleport. I have not yet met an enemy that can keep up with my basic sprint speed, so running away from enemies isn't a problem either.
Character customization is also a huge plus in this game. It is the best I've ever seen; and the developers themselves, that all the different combinations number in the trillions; so if you really want to, you can get a character nobody else will have (but someone could see you, like your costume, and rip it off exactly). There are 3 model sizes, Huge (male), Male, and Female. They all have a height and build slider to make them taller or shorter, athletic or muscular. The heights range from 4 feet, to about 7 1/2 feet. There are tons of armor, and color combinations as well as a nice selection of decals. Sadly no capes though.
And most of all, this game is just downright fun. I have a hard time believing I'm actually enjoying my time in a MMOG again, instead of the game feeling like a job, which tends to happen in many MMOG's after the newness wears off. With their upcoming expansion adding playable Villains and PvP action, I can see this game, being around for quite awhile.
Now after all those positives the negatives must be touched upon.
Firstly, the lag, and disconnects seem to be a big problem. People regardless of their machines, or connections, randomly get booted out to log in screen, which can get quite annoying. Also the game randomly lags, so you'll be running along, find a guy snatching an old woman's purse, run up to attack; and suddenly find yourself 90 feet back, for no apparent reason. I think they definatly need to put a lag meter in the game.
Also the UI. while nice, it doesn't seem to be customizable (at least that I've seen). I'd like to be able to move my windows around to where I want them, and adjust their sizes, instead I'm stuck with gigantor windows taking up my screen. At least they fade out so you can see through them when not in use. I'd also like to add more chat windows; two just doesn't cut it for all the group, and super group (guild) chatter, along with combat spam. I need to know whats going on, not just see a stream of letters and numbers rushing by at mach 3.
The classes, really need to be looked at and tweaked. Blasters are by far the most popular class in the game. They are the characters that do ranged damage, with guns, or spells, or bolts of energy etc. They really don't need any other classes with them, if a few blasters get together they can decimate anything with their AE skills (skills that hit multiple enemies). So you'll often find a groups of blasters AE'ing 20 mobs down like nothing, raking in experience like mad.
Also you have pretty much 1 combination for each Archtype (class) that seems to be the "best". For example, Dark Melee/Regen Scrapper (melee fighters) Invuln/Super Str Tanker (damage taker) etc. And some that are just horrid, and eat up your endurance (required to use any of your abilities) like a crack addict. After 2 or 3 uses of an ability, they will be useless and out of endurance. It seems the developers are looking into this, from what I gather off their official boards.
Overall City of Heroes in my opinion, is the best MMORPG on the market now; and should be a fun time for any MMOGer who likes gameplay that doesn't make you want to stab your eyes out with sporks.8/10