:+: MMORPG CoH AKA City of Heroes Review :+:
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Why should you care about my opinion?
Why should you listen to me instead of some reviewer in a magazine, on a TV show, or from some other Web page when you're trying to look for a City of Heroes review?
I tend to be honest with my opinion when I give a review on something. If I like something, I say so. If I don't like something, I say so. Secondly, I'm not being influenced by a sponsor to give a good review on a program like City of Heroes. Thirdly, I'm not part of some corporation where I'm told by the boss to say one thing or another. Finally, I don't base my opinion on other people's opinions. I form my own based on my experiences. Doing a City of Heroes review based on other people's opinions isn't very realistic. Would you think a review by somebody who just played the game for a few hours and dropped it, or formed their opinion on others' opinions of City of Heroes would be very accurate? Or would you prefer to trust somebody like me, who plays the game for several hours a day?
What is CoH AKA City of Heroes?
CoH AKA City of Heroes is a MMORPG. See the MMO, MMOG, and MMORPG Reviews page for more information on the different types.
In essence, City of Heroes is a RPG that you play on your computer with other people from around the world. Unfortunately, it can't be played as a stand-alone game because it needs to connect to their servers, and you're charged $15 US per month for that.
You can get the game City of Heroes in the City of Heroes / City of Villains: Good Versus Evil Edition that they sell in some stores for around $30 US, and you still need to pay for the time you use on their servers. Fortunately, if you're like some of us who don't have a credit card, there's Play NC game time cards you can buy for about $15 US which are good for 30 days of play, which you'll either need to buy at the store while you're getting the game, or use a credit card to pay for your play time on-line, or you can't use the game.
When you start City of Heroes for the first time, you need to create a character. You get to decide their origin, which varies from things like Science, Technology, Natural, Magic, and Mutation. I tend to pick Mutation origin because it's easier to understand the purpose of the Enhancements that you get in the game, especially after you hit level 22. But, more on that, later, on a CoH AKA City of Heroes Tips page that I plan to make.
Character slots: In City of Heroes, you can have a total of 132 characters for just your monthly fee. To break it down for you, you get 12 character slots for each server with your basic monthly fee and there's 11 servers (US server names, in alphabetical order: Champion, Freedom, Guardian, Infinity, Justice, Liberty, Pinnacle, Protector, Triumph, Victory, Virtue), for a grand total of 132 character slots, and, you can buy more, if you still need them, up to a total of 396 character slots spread out over 11 servers. And, if you want to move a character to another server, you can.
After you pick out your origin, you pick out the type of character you want to be, which is called an Archtype, or just AT in the game. In City of Heroes, you can choose between being a Blaster, Controller, Defender, Scrapper, or Tanker. Most people who first start playing City of Heroes should choose to be a Tanker, as it's less complicated because they're more of the 'up close and personal' kind of fighters and can take more damage.
Note that the City of Heroes / City of Villains: Good Versus Evil Edition requires you to have a DVD drive on your computer. The store's Web site that I saw the game listed at said you need an 800 MHz Pentium III or AMD Athlon CPU, but, a 2GHz CPU would work much better. They also say you need 512 MB of RAM. I'd suggest 2 GB of RAM, or you're going to get very frustrated. Finally, they advise a NVIDIA GeForce 2 video card. I advise having at least a GeForce 6200, but something even higher would be better, if you can afford it. Shop around, ask the computer stores in your area, or shop on-line to find the best deal. If you buy one at a big name electronics store, you're probably going to get over-charged. If you have a computer that's closer to what they think you need to run the game on, the first thing you should do when you start the game is go to the Options and put it down on the minimum settings. The game won't look as good, but, you'll have a better framerate.
Game play is mostly missions that you get from the Contacts you're assigned in the game, but there are fans of street-sweeping, too, where you go out and defeat foes on the street for Experience Points (simply called XP in the game), and Influence, which you use to buy Enhancements to boost your powers up.
Graphics in City of Heroes are fairly good set on the start-up default setting, but have a washed out look on structures, walls, and all that which reminded me a lot of one of the older 3D chat programs like Worlds.com AKA WorldsChat while the look of the avatars / bodies / toons of people in the game are slightly better. Increasing the graphics setting of the game will give you a better appearance, but, you'll sacrifice framerate, which you'll really notice when you're in an area with other characters, especially if you're fighting on a team.
Problems playing City of Heroes:
Low frame rate, for one, if you're playing it on a computer near what they say the system requirements are. Many times, my framerate (when I was using a computer that was between the minimum system requirements and the recommeneded system requirements), was, at its best, about 20, and that's when I'm flying in the sky, with only the sky viewable. On missions with other people, it was between 10 FPS to 1 FPS. If I was on a full team of higher level characters, that framerate went down below 1 FPS.
Disconnections. Thankfully, this isn't happening as often as it used to, but when it does, it's a pain. When you're teaming, you have to remember who the leader of the team was to get a re-invite, and, hope that they, too, didn't get disconnected, or left the team while you were gone. Right before you get disconnected, you'll get a message that comes up on your program window that says 'lost connection to mapserver' which, sometimes, goes away, and you're back in the action, but other times, just stays on until you're shoved back to the log-in. There's also the 'rubber band' effect you get while moving around sometimes, where you jump, run, or teleport only to be taken back a ways from where you were supposed to be. Sometimes it got so bad, it took me several minutes to travel a hundred yards, and a lot of times, you need to travel more than a mile in a single zone to get somewhere. Thankfully, this too, has lessened somewhat.
City of Heroes program crashes. Not as often as they used to. When this happens, I have to re-start the program, then wait a few minutes while it does the 'verifying image' thing, before I can log back in. While I'm not certain if it can be attributed solely to the memory leak that the program has or not, but one time I used Windows Task Manager to see how much memory it was using, and it was over 1 GB.
Warning: Throughout the Internet, you will find jerks. This is also true of the City of Heroes MMORPG. For more information on the jerks in the City of Heroes game, check out the CoH / City of Heroes Blacklist page.
NCsoft/NC Interactive fairness, or how fair or un-fair the company running City of Heroes treats their customers:
(This section added on May 31st, 2008)
Fairness doesn't seem to be their thing . . .
In many situations, you'll find that NCsoft (or NC Interactive as they call themselves in some e-mails), the current owner of the City of Heroes game, plays favorites and doesn't treat everybody the same. They make rules, but, only some of the players have to abide by them, while others get away with breaking them each and every time they log into the game using trademarked names. Testing this, I added one such player to my friends list to see how long they could get by with using a nationally recognized trade name that was also adult in nature, and surprisingly, to this day, they are still using it, despite the fact that I've heard people state that they sent in a petition about it, claiming they shouldn't use such a name in a game rated for play by teens, whereas most others generally get their names changed to something like Generic 123 456 789 before they even reach the 2nd level when they use a name that's similar but not the same as a recognized comic book character.
In addition to this, they claim that some types of names while not being against the rules, didn't make people think that the name made others believe that the user was an employee of NCsoft (or NC Interactive), that didn't violate any copyright or trademark and wasn't vulgar or offensive, was, to quote them, against their policy which their customers are not told about until after they do something against this secret policy, and are then punished for it by getting their name 'genericized' to something like that Generic 123 456 789 name, and the user/customer has to engage in a long, drawn-out conversation lasting several e-mails to convince them to change that name to something else, which is less comfortable than getting a root canal. Their secret policy is not fair, has no basis in logic, and, even if you quote one of their higher-ups like Brian Clayton saying that people shouldn't be bothered by something like that (I even quoted him word for word in one e-mail to them), they'll still try to claim that it's against their policy and won't change the name back. The NCsoft employees involved in one of these little games of screw-over the customers were named Marlin and Mitch, if anybody's curious.
In-game help isn't much better. Sending in a petition usually doesn't get any of their employees to come help you in the game. Most of the time, they'll just send you an e-mail, usually saying that there's nothing they can do to help you, or claiming that the problem must be on your end, and tell you that you must download and install some of their testing software to run it on your computer so they can find out what the problem is, even if they're the ones releasing new game issues to the live servers that are still very buggy. Trust somebody to make testing software when even a simple game is buggy? No thank you! LOL If you want to see something like that which is coded correctly, try This Is It, my 3D world. Even have bots in there that actually converse with you and play games with you like a trivia or chess game. But then, I started coding a very long time ago, too, and likely spend more time on the Internet than almost anybody else . . . LOL
In essence, at this time, you shouldn't count on NCsoft for fairness, or any real in-game help. Think it's been months since I've actually had an NCsoft GM ask me if they can help me in the game. Just tested this a few days ago, too, and stayed logged in for about ten hours with the character I sent a petition in with. Frankly, I doubt if any other user is going to wait around that long if they have a problem with something in-game . . . If they start to improve their help, or start being fair with their customers, I'll up-date this, but, until then, it's pretty much buyer beware. You might get a fair shake from another MMORPG, but, you won't get it from NCsoft.
You wanted an honest City of Heroes review? You just got one.
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