Games

City of Heroes

Jason Thompson

It's quite thrilling to make your dream character and then watch him do battle with the baddies. Who hasn't ever wanted to live out a super hero fantasy or two?


Publisher: NC Soft
Genres: MMORPG, RPG
Price: $49.99 (plus a monthly subscription fee)
Multimedia: City of Heroes
Platforms: PC
Number of players: 1
ESRB rating: Teen
Developer: Cryptic Studios
US release date: 2007-07

Paragon City has recently fallen prey to rival gangs hell bent on wreaking havoc. Dealing drugs, mugging, B and E, thieving, and yes, even murdering; their antics are threatening to dismantle one of the greatest cities on the planet. Fortunately for the community at large, and unfortunately for the villains, Paragon City is also home to some of the world's greatest super heroes.

There's Hunter S. with his powerful mace, spiked dog collar and gas mask apparatus. The Diabolic Groove, a real hero and ladies' man who'd rather be eating hoagies than busting heads. The Greasy Stain decked out in a suave beret and suit jacket, ready to save the world whenever he's needed. And of course Clark Nova, a seven foot tall, athletic son of a gun who can blast bursts of fire from his hands and bring down a torrential rain of flames as well.

Never heard of them? Well they're my personal favorites and also my creations in the terrific massive multiplayer game known as City of Heroes. In this title, the player must create a hero and then send him out into the vast boroughs of Paragon City to stop the bad guys. It's a comic book lover's dream come true. To say the least, it's quite thrilling to make your dream character and then watch him do battle with the baddies. Who hasn't ever wanted to live out a super hero fantasy or two?

True to comic book form, the super heroes of Paragon City are not always exactly trusted by the citizens. Some people are quick to praise the player's heroics after they've broken up a robbery, but others are not always so sure, and will sometimes mutter a line like "Perhaps I've been wrong about capes." Yes, "capes" as it were can be misunderstood, even in a city that was founded by them. It's this true sense of comic book spirit that's just one of the key ingredients that makes City of Heroes such a success.

Another main factor would be the sheer ease of play. Unlike other MMORPGs, the learning curve of City of Heroes takes about ten minutes to master the basics. And this is truly a game that you can play by yourself online. One thing that's been bugging me about a lot of these types of games of late is that you're often forced to seek out and find a group to play with in order to just merely succeed at the game in general. City of Heroes allows the player to successfully spend as much time by himself as it does with others.

But perhaps the most glorious thing about City of Heroes is how it makes friends out of strangers. Often, a group of heroes requires an across the board style of heroes. A scrapper, a defender, a controller, a tank, and a blaster perhaps. Scrappers and tanks can do damage up close, while blasters and controllers can stand back and battle from the outside. And of course defenders can save the fellow heroes by protecting and healing them while the battles rage on. It's a real X-Men type of camaraderie.

And like the X-Men, heroes can be created in all sorts of ways. Perhaps your hero or heroine is a Natural and has become a hero through great discipline and training, such as Batman and Robin. Or maybe it's a Mutant and can use manipulate its own body to defend itself. Then there are the Scientific heroes, like Spider-Man or The Hulk who were subjected to an experiment gone awry and have developed their powers from it. Plus there's more. You name it, and Cryptic Studios has pretty much thought of it and included it here.

The game also allows players a lot of creativity when creating their heroes. While playing, I saw great variations on actual heroes running around Paragon City. The Hulk seems to be a widely copied motif, but there were also everything from Green Lantern types to Raiden from Mortal Kombat walking around. But the original heroes are the most creative, and you can tell that many of the players have put a lot of thought and effort into creating the heroes they've always wanted to be. And counter to what some may think, there are just as many females playing this game as male. Many of my friends that I've made on the game so far have been women. Given that, City of Heroes may be one of the few MMORPGs that has captured a female audience.

Of course, many things are planned for Paragon City as the game goes along. New boroughs, new missions, new looks for the characters, and so on. Players will even receive a monthly City of Heroes comic book just for signing up to play. And for those who would rather turn to the dark side, a City of Villains has been planned for a 2005 release.

So if you've always wanted to be a super hero, then by all means check out City of Heroes. To me, it's a lot more engaging and fun than Freedom Force, a prior super hero-based game that had a lot of comic book charm in its artistry, but a rather weak online experience and gameplay that wasn't as thoroughly fulfilling. And who knows? You may just team up with Clark Nova or The Diabolic Groove yourself one of these days.

In Americana music the present is female. Two-thirds of our year-end list is comprised of albums by women. Here, then, are the women (and a few men) who represented the best in Americana in 2017.

If a single moment best illustrates the current divide between Americana music and mainstream country music, it was Sturgill Simpson busking in the street outside the CMA Awards in Nashville. While Simpson played his guitar and sang in a sort of renegade-outsider protest, Garth Brooks was onstage lip-syncindg his way to Entertainer of the Year. Americana music is, of course, a sprawling range of roots genres that incorporates traditional aspects of country, blues, soul, bluegrass, etc., but often represents an amalgamation or reconstitution of those styles. But one common aspect of the music that Simpson appeared to be championing during his bit of street theater is the independence, artistic purity, and authenticity at the heart of Americana music. Clearly, that spirit is alive and well in the hundreds of releases each year that could be filed under Americana's vast umbrella.

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

This week on our games podcast, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

This week, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

Keep reading... Show less

Which is the draw, the art or the artist? Critic Rachel Corbett examines the intertwined lives of two artists of two different generations and nationalities who worked in two starkly different media.

Artist biographies written for a popular audience necessarily involve compromise. On the one hand, we are only interested in the lives of artists because we are intrigued, engaged, and moved by their work. The confrontation with a work of art is an uncanny experience. We are drawn to, enraptured and entranced by, absorbed in the contemplation of an object. Even the performative arts (music, theater, dance) have an objective quality to them. In watching a play, we are not simply watching people do things; we are attending to the play as a thing that is more than the collection of actions performed. The play seems to have an existence beyond the human endeavor that instantiates it. It is simultaneously more and less than human: more because it's superordinate to human action and less because it's a mere object, lacking the evident subjectivity we prize in the human being.

Keep reading... Show less
3

Gabin's Maigret lets everyone else emote, sometimes hysterically, until he vents his own anger in the final revelations.

France's most celebrated home-grown detective character is Georges Simenon's Inspector Jules Maigret, an aging Paris homicide detective who, phlegmatically and unflappably, tracks down murderers to their lairs at the center of the human heart. He's invariably icon-ified as a shadowy figure smoking an eternal pipe, less fancy than Sherlock Holmes' curvy calabash but getting the job done in its laconic, unpretentious, middle-class manner.

Keep reading... Show less
5
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image