It's funny that typing City of Heroes into the search box reveals Champions Online as first hit.
That still stands. The thing about a super hero game is that it's totally personal. Heroes are usually on their own, maybe a side-kick, and usually only join up with a group of other heroes when there's a big boss to fight. Think about it. Did Super Man really need the Super Friends or the Justice League? Hell no. Sure it seemed like his buddies saved his butt from time to time, but not really. I mean, Super Man is the only dude who DOESN'T need saving the the universe of super heroes.
So that's the major downfall of this game. It's a single player game you play with friends. Your character is the most pivotal element of the game, from design to powers, and really that is the whole reason why you play this game. It's YOUR super hero or villain. You put about two hours into just coming up with a costume and a name, another thirty minutes in deciding powers, and then you play this game with other people who really have no impact on you. You can solo level, go through dungeons, and craft for yourself. This is a single player game and it would be a lot more interesting if it were kept that way.
I gotta say... the character creator and power chooser is AWESOME! I had a lot of fun with that. Probably made a dozen characters that I never played just for the hell of it. That's, actually, the highest point of the game.
Unfortunately, the camera and keyboard controls are really awkward at first and take some time to either get used to or change. Even then, they still feel weird. You can't turn your character toward the camera to take a screen shot, and when enemies are under you and you are attacking during flight, the camera simply goes crazy trying to figure out what to do.
I'm glad I got the 14 day trial, rather than dropping the money for it new. The trial version, I will warn you, is a total strip down of the game. There's a lot of lack of direction for missions, you can't whisper to anyone, and some places are restricted to you. Kinda sucks actually.
The missions are, as you might guess, terrible. Many times you will be entering a building or area, clearing out bad guys or good guys, and leaving suddenly. It's not terribly exciting. AND THEN the game hits you with pages of text to read in order to progress the story. Holy crap that's a lot of reading for an game that's supposed to be about super heroes. I mean, really? Do I really need to know every detail about the police contact that's telling me I should save the world? Not really. These people are meaningless to a hero/villain. Just point me in the right direction and give me something exciting to do, damn it.
I will say that COH does try to solve the whole travel problem with missions. You still have to find a trainer to level up, though it makes less sense in a genre like COH has than any other game, but you can call your contacts on your cell phone after you do a few jobs for them and get missions right out in the field. Seriously though, one day I would like to see a game that allows you to level up, advance skills, and receive missions right int he middle of the environments rather than a cliche town. Towns are meant for products for use, a real hero/villain needs to trainer.
Playing a villain, as GameSpot has suggested, isn't all that villainous. For example, you don't stand around burning down buildings or robbing people. You do hero stuff and take down even badder bad guys. I wanted to burn down buildings and do some really evil stuff. Don't say I didn't warn you.
I am, however, curious to see what happens with Champions Online and how that turns out. If it is an improvement at all, all of the above grudges will be amended. But still..... is a super hero/villain MMO really worth paying a monthly fee for? Is it not, essentially, a single player game grafted onto an MMO?