Miss Meryze and the Parts of Free Speech
Everybody's talkin' up City of Heroes. "You get to be a superhero!" they say. "It's like Diablo except with capes and hundreds nay thousands of other folks around!" they say. "It's devouring my soul in the most pleasant way imaginable!" they say. And yet, I stood firm. My gaming PC lay dusty and dark in the corner, unused, unnoticed, as I fixed bugs, watched Ken Jennings demolish all comers on Jeopardy, and played the occasional XBox.
Then Kevin picked up CoH. And started saying those same things. And showed the game to us after the Saturday night GURPS session.
So, as part of the paroxysm of freedom shopping I did yesterday, I picked up my very own personal copy of City of Crack... I mean Heroes. I've had a few encounters with the genre in the past: once back in 1991, on a MUD hosted by Texas A&M (which for years I have thought of as "TAMU" as that was my only exposure to the school). I played unshaven and crazed for a week. Then I ventured into a too tough area, got my ass handed to me, and -- this was the dumb bit -- ran right back into that area to retrieve my stuff. Every time I died, I lost half my XP. In fifteen minutes I undid a week's worth of work. Luckily for my future desires to actually graduate from college, this put me off the genre for a while.
In 2000, I tried it again. My marriage had recently fallen apart, and I was lonely and felt sorry for myself. "What better time," I reasoned, "to get addicted to online games that provide an infinite series of stupid, just-in-reach goals in a well-reasoned, non-derivative setting of dark elves and dwarves?" So I picked up the two contenders at the time, Everquest and Asheron's Call, and gave 'em a whirl. I returned both, two days later, so bored by the gameplay, visual quality, and lack of interesting things to do that even in my at-loose-ends, self-pitying state I couldn't find hooks for addiction.
Which all goes to show just how impressive CoH is, since I currently enjoy a stable, happy relationship, a satisfying job, and many hobbies that get me out of the house. And yet, I spent FOUR HOURS yesterday fighting the Clockwork and the Hellions with Kevin, trying to get to Security Level 6 (we made it to 5 before I thought maybe I should y'know go talk to my wife and maybe get ready for bed). And oh my god, it was fun. It does have a very Diablo with Tights feel -- get the quest, beat up the guys, find the clue, call your contact for the next quest. But the set of powers is very rich, the costume design is insanely optionful, and the graphics are just very very pretty.
Even more important, teaming up is a lot of fun. Kevin's character was a big tough tank; mine was a weaker mentalist character who could put baddies to sleep. Combining that -- my character putting the tough baddies to sleep while his character took out the weaker ones and evened the odds -- worked really well. And near the end we started running into some pretty challenging encounters that we barely scraped though by the skin of our teeth. Yeeeha!
My current character is "Miss Meryze" on the Triumph server; I'll probably generate a few others to see the different play types (gotta try out the Katana power set :) ). Come say hi! 10:32:13 AM ()