Explore the ‘DC Universe’ free of charge

by Cody Franklin

Courtesy of Sony Online Entertainment
Courtesy of Sony Online Entertainment

A month like November, with so many game releases, can hit gamers hard in the wallet. Luckily, there’s one game this month that won’t cost a dime. Though “DC Universe Online” has been out since January, gamers have had to pay to get in on the superhero / villain action. Until now.

Last Wednesday the game began transitioning to the free-to-play model.

“DC Universe Online” is set in the DC comic book universe. Players control ordinary humans who have been granted superpowers by iconic bad guy Lex Luthor. After traveling back in time to prepare humanity against an attack from the villain Brainiac, Lex released special “exobytes” that grant abilities to people worldwide.

Players must choose a weapon skill such as dual pistols, a travel skill such as flight and an ability power set ranging from fire to gadgets.

Then players pick which character they want to control, which drastically changes the quest lines and areas each player encounters. Want to be Joker’s pal, terrorizing the streets of Gotham? Why not run around with Wonder Woman, defending good in the heart of Metropolis?

Fast-paced, action-packed combat certainly makes players feel they are a real superpowered fighting force. Hilarity results from using travel powers while fighting; each fighting style provides an experience difficult to find anywhere else. Throwing comically oversized bombs at enemies is always good for a laugh as well.

Shaping a character’s appearance is of paramount importance in any superhero game and “DC Universe Online” has fantastic features. Once players create their starter appearance, every piece of gear collected in the world adds to a collection of clothing, which is changeable at the touch of a button. Likewise, changing clothing color is incredibly simple. Not having to waste time and money on overcomplicated processes like using dyes is a breath of fresh air that should be adopted in more role-playing games.

Graphically, the game isn’t state of the art, but it still looks very good, runs well on Playstation 3 and won’t break most computers. Though a locked frame rate of 30 frames-per-second might throw off some players, the smoothness of performance more than makes up for giving up a few frames.

One complaint about the game is the rather limited amount of abilities to choose from, though some might call this a plus as none of them seem to be weak. Likewise, the game is rather short, with only 30 levels of content. Players can reach level 10 in just a few hours; however, the fighting and power styles are interesting enough that players will want to try out other characters.

Conversion to free-to-play has not gone seamlessly. Servers have been experiencing hours-long outages since the transition. However, Sony appears to be working diligently to fix these issues.

As a free-to-play game, some content is restricted. Free players will have only two character slots, a small inventory and a few other restrictions. However, if players spend at least $5 in the item shop, they will become premium members and have some of the restrictions loosened. Pay a monthly subscription and all content is unlocked with all restrictions removed. However, even as a free player, most of the game is accessible and the restrictions are far less heavy-handed than other free-to-play games.

Overall, “DC Universe Online” is a fun game for anyone seeking a more fast-paced massively multiplayer role playing game in a world of games full of perpetual grinding. Fighting alongside comic book legends such as Catwoman and Flash makes the game worth a look simply for its comic book roots. While it may not keep players enthralled through hundreds of hours of content like some of its competitors, players will likely find themselves having much more fun in the limited content provided. With a nonexistent price tag, it’s hard to go wrong with “DC Universe Online.”