With famed DC Comics illustrator Jim Lee and writer Geoff Johns responsible for the look and feel of DC Universe Online, the comics leap off the page and become the world around you.
The comic company's foray into massively multi-player online role-playing games benefits from stellar comic-style graphics and stories but suffers from long download times.
DC Universe Online begins with an awesome movie depicting what is to be considered the final battle between Earth's most famed heroes and villains.
Lex Luthor has no time to celebrate before realizing that his victory has turned into his ultimate defeat by Kryptonian super-computer Brainiac. Luthor is forced to flee into his past, which is our present, to try to prevent his own undoing. He unleashes countless nanobytes on Earth, which explains how everyday people suddenly become imbued with superpowers.
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The DC Universe is presented in a way that makes it interesting to those familiar with the comics or cartoons, but it's also informative and entertaining for those who know only basic character names.
As someone with just that casual knowledge, I enjoyed learning more about the main characters and being introduced to secondary characters. Gotham City and Metropolis are massive settings and exquisitely designed, as are side arenas and areas including the Batcave and Arkham Asylum.
Players can choose to be heroes and have mentors such as Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, or villains who are guided by baddies Luthor, The Joker or Circe.
There are almost 150 characters from the DC Universe, and the voice acting is outstanding. Customizing your character is exciting, detailed and nearly overwhelming — in a good way. Anyone who enjoys comic book art, weaponry, magic, muscle, acrobatics or even fashion will appreciate the various aspects of character creation.
The game-play format is both challenging and user-friendly, a good combination of video game-style combat and online role-playing game personalization of abilities.
The game play is driven by the story, more so than the abstract open-type game play seen in games such as World of Warcraft.
DC Universe Online is a great first step into the world of online role-playing games for consoles like the PlayStation 3, but this is not to say it lacks problems. Voice chat is spotty at best, and there are long waits to enter some of the alternative arenas or missions. In-game text seems to be too small even for some of the largest televisions on the market, and there are no options for changing this setting.
Also, the $14.99 monthly fee is something PS3 users are not used to seeing after making an initial $59.99 investment in a video game. And don't expect to take the game home, pop the disc in and immediately play, because a preliminary download time of close to two hours is required before starting.
The first monthly update took nearly as long to download as the initial setup. But it added plenty of new missions and arenas, and it made improvements to game play. If these updates continue regularly, the monthly fee will be much more bearable.