reviewed on PC
Nothing like a new pair of tights
In November, NC Soft and Cryptic Studios once again came together and released the latest addition to the City of Heroes MMORPG, City of Villains. City of Villains is a stand-alone expansion which allows the player to get in touch with his or her darker side and play the bad guy. And let me tell you, it's so very good to be bad.
One of the biggest changes made between City of Heroes and City of Villains have been made with the characters themselves: the villains have a brand new look as far as costume options and appearance. The City of Heroes did a great job when it went live as a game that offered almost limitless options for character customization, but now they have found a way to outdo themselves with Villains. You can play anything from a psycho katana wielding school girl to a towering titan of cybernetic beat down to an inhuman nightmarish 'thing' that seemingly crawled out of from the bowels of Hell. Naming policy has also developed a little bit. Though all copyright restrictions continue to apply to your character - so you shouldn't try naming yourself after a favorite villain or hero from a comic series or a movie - the length of the name allowed has been increased to 20 characters, including the spaces. Thus, both 'Mike the Mean' and 'The Miffed Muffin' would work fine. From the sexy to the sinister, you will find that the style and feel of your villain is restricted only by the limitations of your own imagination.
Power is everything
In addition to the great additions in costume options, the entire structure of the villains' 'power sets' have been altered and tailored for CoV. A Power Set is a set of super powers the villain has access to when you first create him. These sets define what class your villain falls into. The 'brute' as an example, is a melee class who can choose from five different power sets for his primary skills and another five different powers for his secondary power set. Primary powers will always be a little more powerful and advance more quickly than secondary powers, but the balance and selection of both can very easily make or break the character before he ever gets as far as the tutorial.
All in all, the Power Sets offer an enormous range of customization and individuality. Each class has a choice of at least 5 power sets for both primary and secondary powers. This was always the case in the original release of City of Heroes, but in the case of City of Villains, the power sets have been edited, shuffled around and restructured to better fit the villainous way of life. Each class has its own strengths. As a fledgling villain, you have the choice of becoming a Brute, Stalker, Dominator, Corruptor, or a Mastermind. Each class concentrates on specific play styles.
Brutes, as I said earlier are all melee. Brutes will be the first into a fight and in many cases the last to walk out of one. If you need something broken or dislocated, the Brute is who you want on the job.
Stalkers are also melee-oriented, but they are more subtle in their trade. Stalkers are the assassins of the bunch: they can hide and be invisible to the naked eye, tread amongst countless foes safely just to get into position behind their target and take him out with a devastating attack.
Dominators are the control freaks. They want everything their way and have the powers to make it so. Dominators are a ranged class that can take down foes from afar without getting into physical danger themselves.
Corruptors are also a ranged class, but they are better suited for buffing, debuffing and status affecting role. Slow, DoTed, and debuffed is their way of fighting dirty. Often, the enemies of a corruptor will never survive their encounter with one.
Finally, last but not least, the Mastermind. His philosophy is "Why do yourself what you can have others do for you?" and it works very well for him. The Masterminds are the only class in the game allowed to have familiars, or pets, in the form of undead zombies, mercenaries, robotic drones or ninja. Other classes may develop pet abilities, but the Masterminds' minions are far more dangerous.
It is not uncommon to have a character creation process go on for almost an hour. Usually not due to any problem other then not being able to make up your mind on how you want your character to look like or skills to give him, or what to name him. At times the numbers of possibilities are baffling.
The newest and most anticipated addition to the series is the long awaited addition of PvP. The Arena was added last year to City of Heroes introducing the foundation of what is today's PvP combat system. The Arena is still active for friendly competition among fellow heroes or to prove who is the strongest among the villains, but the real action takes place out in the streets of both Paragon City and Rogue Island. PvP is set up to take place in specific 'contested' zones. These zones are the battlefields where the war between Heroes and Villains take place. They are normal city zones in every way, including mission contacts, stores, and normal street spawns. There are several different PvP zones throughout the two cities. It is where the good and the bad can finally come face to face and square off. Often, depending on which zone you are in and where you are located, you can take part is a battle being fought between the good and bad forces where each victory and defeat is tracked.
In addition to these 'contested' zones, PvP can take place in the home base or secret hideout of a supergroup. With the additions of Supergroup Base construction, PvP can be taken from the streets onto the turf of your enemy or vise versa. As a supergroup grows in members and strength, a portion of cash awarded goes into a base slush fund. This money is used for base purchases and expansions. Right now bases are a novel addition to a low level supergroup. It can be used as a rally point or meeting place for guild business, but at the lower levels they are not really as functional as they are ultimately designed to be. Only when a supergroup grows large enough to earn a 'Supergroup' reward or item, the fun really begins. These items bestow a bonus or benefit to the entire Supergroup, as long as the items stays safely inside the Supergroup HQ. The downside to this is that once a special item is awarded, that base becomes susceptible to attack from rival villain supergroups.
No Pros and Cons at this time