Preview Night

So Wednesday night was preview, which is basically a chance for Comic-con attendees with the uber four day pass to get in early and have a look around for a few hours before the show officially kicks off. We all waded into the throng of folks outside the convention center, honestly the biggest mob...

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So Wednesday night was preview, which is basically a chance for Comic-con attendees with the uber four day pass to get in early and have a look around for a few hours before the show officially kicks off. We all waded into the throng of folks outside the convention center, honestly the biggest mob I've ever seen at a preview night, got our passes and had a quick look around. The big thing for me was heading over for that hands on with DC Universe Online. The demo was a really tiny sampler of what to expect from the game. There were several different kiosks in the SOE booth on the showfloor. It seemed like every kiosk had a different type of character playable. The one I wound up on had a ice powered flyer who specialized in ranged attacks courtesy of his dual ice pistols. The demo level was a slice of Metropolis that was being assaulted by Superman's nemesis Brainiac. The demo level had a mix of different concurrent tasks to keep track of and featured some familiar faces from the DC universe. The two tasks I focused on were rescuing civilians infected with a techno virus Brainiac was releasing into the city and taking down Brainiac's overseers in order to collect technology off them. I got help from other players in the demo as well as several DC heroes. I personally saw Superman (who was giving me instructions on how to repel the attack), Supergirl, and Lex Luthor. An SOE rep mentioned that Green Lantern, and Bizarro were around as well but we didn't see them in the chaos. You could choose to help Supergirl beat on Lex Luthor or just go about your business which was a nice touch.

The demo had a nice sense of chaos with everyone that wasn't infected running around freaking out and infected citizens and overseers popping up attacking us and causing trouble. Brainiac's space ship was floating in the sky above the city protected by a forcefield. It took a few minutes to get accustomed to the game's control. While the demo was running on a PC, SOE had PS3 controllers as well as mouse and keyboard on hand so that people could try both control schemes. You can tell the game is still a work in progress, control is a little clunky (especially managing the camera which is key to flying) but workable. One of the biggest challenges right now is that the gameplay is so action oriented (think console versions of Baldur's Gate or Marvel Ultimate Alliance) that if you're not on your game you'll get pasted pretty quick. Since my hero had the power to fly, I got a breather by taking to the air and getting my bearings. Flying is fairly easy since you just click in the left analog stick on the controller to toggle between walking and flying. Adjusting altitude was a little tricky at first since you have to aim your camera in the direction you want to fly and then head there. It's not the easiest thing to do when you're getting rocked by infected citizens but it was okay.

Combat was pretty action oriented. You'll have two basic melee attacks, a block, a jump, an auto target, and a "weaponize" action that seems like a fancy description for picking stuff up and throwing it . In addition to those standard actions, hitting the R2 trigger lets you access four special powers, in my it was different ice attacks, that are assigned to the four face buttons. There was an area of affect attack that damage anything around me, an ice ball to throw, an ice block ability that let me freeze an enemy in a block which I could pick up and toss, and an ice sheathe that let me create spikes around my hero's fists to improve melee. Each ability had a brief cool down when used which worked out fine. My hero also had some icons towards the bottom of the screen that the SOE rep on hand told me represented my characters defensive abilities that in my case were passive.

The graphics were looking good, having Jim Lee do art will do that for a game, and the game ran okay. There was some camera weirdness and performance hitches but overall it wasn't too bad a debut. I'll definitely be heading back for some more time later today. If you have questions drop a note or a message. Also look for Spider-man: Web of Shadow Impressions this morning.

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