DC Universe Online Hands-On and Video Demo

We take wing alongside Batman, Superman, and Green Arrow to battle a nasty mutation in S.T.A.R. Labs during a new playable case in DC Universe Online.

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During an E3 2009 session at Sony Online Entertainment, we finally got our hands on DC Universe Online, the much-anticipated superhero/villain massively multiplayer online game. You can create your own hero in DCUO, and you can read our preview for a deeper look at the character customization. We played as a silver-clad, winged hero named Stormwing and battled our way through a mutant outbreak, wings a-flappin' and powers a-blazin'.

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At the beginning of the case (DCUO lingo for "quest"), we learned that a mutation had broken out due to some overzealous scientists who didn't quite have a handle on their experiments. Scientists and security guards had turned into hulking monsters, and we teamed up with Batman to protect a lead scientist while he developed an antidote. We could fly at will with our feathery wings, so we soared into the fray and started whacking baddies with our power staff. We played on a PC with a Sixaxis controller, and the buttons controlled our various melee attacks and defensive maneuvers. Bashing our way through the fray was easy enough, but what's the fun of being a superhero if you don't have some awesome superpowers?

Fortunately, we had four awesome superpowers equipped, and with a pull of the left trigger, the face buttons temporarily remapped to control our powers. One was a powerful area attack, and another seemed to be a powerful knockback, though it was hard to tell because of the dazzling electrical effects that accompanied it. DC Universe Online is looking sharp and running smoothly, and our hero model was particularly flashy. Once the first wave of enemies was destroyed, we received the antidote and began to heal our defeated foes. Some were scientists who immediately fled, whereas others were security guards that joined in the fight on our side. Soon we had stemmed the mutant tide, and it was on to tackle the source.

The source, in this case, was a giant, hulking monster. As we flew into a large, open atrium, we found Superman and Green Arrow already locked in combat with the beast. Superman stood toe-to-toe doing battle, whereas Green Arrow shot the fiend from a safe distance. For our part, we waded in alongside Superman and unleashed a full battery of superpowers. One particularly nasty one let us park a burning ball of energy right under the monster and constantly damage it. As our superpowers recharged, we resorted to good old-fashioned fisticuffs to get the job done. The battlefield was a bit chaotic with three superheroes, assorted hench-mutants, and the big boss baddie, but the frame rate kept up and displayed the furious action smoothly and vividly.

At the end of the battle, the boss was reduced to a nasty chunk of mutagen the size of a couch, which we promptly picked up and began to fly toward a containment chamber. Of course, we ran across some more mutants along the way, and proceeded to revel in the sweet, sweet irony as we beat them to death with the mutagen chunk that spawned them. The level was littered with similarly large physics-enabled objects. They would explode, break apart, or fly across the room when hit, and each one could be picked up and brandished as a weapon, or thrown at an enemy. We managed to toss the mutagen chunk into the containment chamber, only to be confronted by Bizarro. Guess we weren't going to close the case quite as easily as we hoped.

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DC Universe Online's slick, fast-paced action was just what we liked to see from our superheroes. The formidable powers were easy to wield, and the varying recharge times meant that we had to use them strategically or risk getting caught (relatively) powerless during a tough situation. You can watch most of the case we played in the video above, guided by the creative director for DC Universe Online, Jens Anderson. DCUO is just coming out of the internal alpha stages right now, so it'll be a while before people get their hands on it for a significant amount of time. When that opportunity becomes available, you can be sure GameSpot will bring you the latest from this exciting superhero MMOG.

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