About Rex
Name: Rex Stetson
Occupation: Masked Avenger Type
Base of Operations: Washington, DC
E-Mail: rexstetson@yahoo.com
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 Other Blogs of Interest
The Young Curmudgeon
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The Anal Philosopher
Justice Junction
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Mr. X
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Friday, April 23, 2004

Rex Goes on Patrol, Defeats Many Heavily Armed Gang Members!

That was what my week looked like, and my excuse for why I haven't been blogging so much lately. No offense, imaginary readers, but it was a lot more fun that blogging.

About a week ago, I was selected as a Beta Tester for the coolest superhero video game ever- City of Heroes!!

Since then, Rex Stetson has been patrolling the streets of Paragon City, fighting criminals, and having loads of fun doing it.

(I wanted to include a screenshot of the game version of myself, but didn't think about saving one- I look about the same as in the picture, though a bit more comic-booky. Sorry!)

The game is essentially a superhero version of the highly addictive and time-consuming game Everquest, affectionately known on the street as "EverCrack".

People, City of Heroes is EverHeroin! (I say that assuming that Heroin is more addictive, but cooler than crack. I wouldn't know myself, but crackheads generally seem to be sociopathic assholes whereas junkies seem to be nicer, more sympathetic folks, but in real life and in the movies I've seen.)

Anyway, there are hundreds of different powers you can have and develop in different ways- and everyone can create their own unique characters- with customized height, build, costume, weapons, race, even hairstyles, facial hair, and ears (if pointy ears are your thing). I honestly didn't see any two people who looked alike in my week of playing.

What I most liked about the game, and what I liked about EverQuest, was the social aspect- you could team up with others to take on different challenges ( such as a large-ish group of thugs) and cooperate- using your various powers together in clever teamwork ways, like in the climactic scene of the first X-Men film- in the Statue of Liberty's head- where they all use their powers to defeat Magneto.

A dumb-looking toy based on the end scene from X-Men. Wolverine possesses great fighting ability and regenerative powers, but his metal skeleton and claws make him vulnerable to Magneto's attacks! He could use someone with a ranged attack, like Cyclops or Storm!

In City of Heroes, as in Everquest, a character with a ranged attack ( such as heat vision or weather control) can zap enemies from far away, but can't take a lot of physical beating up close. So he teams with a "tanker"- a big tough guy, to handle the hand-to-hand. If one has the power of levitating one's enemies, this can help the group postpone dealing with unwanted foes if they have their hands full. Similarly, if a character has healing or regenerative powers, these are useful to the group. Consequently, little groups of 3-6 people are a common sight in City of Heroes. It's more fun to take on bigger challenges than you can handle alone, and you can socialize with your teammates and take pride in the team's victories!

I say it's a social activity. And it is. You're not just some loser sitting alone playing video games by yourself all day. You're a loser sitting alone playing video games with thousands of other losers sitting alone playing video games all over the world!

To quote the immortal John Bender, online role-playing games are "sorta social...demented and sad, but social."

Up til now, most superhero games, while fun and excellent at capturing the "feel" of superheroic crimefighting- have been single player. The Spider-Man games have been exceptionally good at this. I haven't played all the Batman games, but those that I have played, while looking really cool, had serious flaws with the in-game camera and movement that ruined the playability for me.

The only good multiplayer superhero game I've seen other than COH was http://www.myfreedomforce.com/index_ff2.html- which, again, looked amazing, but pales in comparison to COH- the latter an orchestral version of the melody Freedom Force screeches on a lone violin...to clumsily metaphorize. Freedom Force has some advantages over COH- custom "Danger-Room"- style multiplayer matches could be played over a local network rather than online, More character customization possibilities since users could upload their own character "skins" and "meshes", and most importantly-characters in FF could wear capes and trenchcoats and such.

COH doesn't allow for any of that, for some bizarre reason. Word on the Beta Forums is they're working on it, though- at least the "capes" issue. the graphics are very realistic, and they don't want to rush them and have stiff capes that don't move realistically for flying, leaping, landing, etc.

The game has its official launch on April 28th, 2004. Buy it. Play it. At all costs. And if you see me, say hello!

Posted by Rex @ 10:33 AM

REX STETSON: ARMCHAIR VIGILANTE character name and distinctive likeness thereof: TM & © 2003 Armchair Vigilantism, Inc. All Rights Reserved.