City of Heroes

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UPDATE: This game has been shutdown and is no longer available

City of Heroes, called COH for short, is superhero themed MMORPG published by NC Soft. The uniquely themed game has an enormous amount of content and some of the best character customization of any game. Create your own superhero and team up with others to fight against the villains of Paragon City.

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Publisher: Paragon Studios
Playerbase: Large
Graphics: Medium Quality
Type: MMORPG
EXP Rate: Low
PvP: Arena / Heroes vs Villains
Filesize: 4,000 MB Installed

Pros: +Large game world. +Unique superhero theme. +Top notch character creation and customization. +Many playable classes.

Cons: -Limited PvP options. -Game world feels empty. -Missions are repetitive and dull. -Gameplay feels slow paced.

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Overview

City of Heroes Overview

Characters in City of Heroes are divided into two factions; heroes and villains.  Both factions have access to all of the archetypes.  There is also a third faction, a Praetorian faction, which is an alternate reality version of the game’s world.  It offers a unique level 1-20 playing experience, after which you choose which standard faction to join.  Every character has an Origin, which determines the kind of enhancements (CoH’s version of gear) they can use, and also where the thematic origin of their superpowers is.  The origins are Technology, Mutation, Natural, Magic, and Science.

There are many archetypes in the game, organized into several categories, listed here:

Tank

Tanker:  Made obvious by the name, a tanker’s job is to tank.  They are the sturdiest archetype in the game, and have the easiest time holding aggro, thanks to their unique “gauntlet” ability that causes every attack to put out an AOE taunt effect.

Brute:  A more offensive-minded version of the tanker, brutes have a slightly harder time holding aggro, and having slightly lower defense than tankers, but make up for it with higher damage and a unique “rage” meter that increases their damage as a fight wears on.

Warshade:  This jack-of-all-trades archetype is an effective tank in one of its many forms, and gains buffs based on the makeup of their party.

Peacebringer:  Very similar to the warshade, but with different abilities and aesthetics.

Melee Damage

Scrapper: A versatile archetype, scrappers are essentially low-defense tankers with a critical strike ability and high offensive capacity.  They aren’t as fragile as a ranged damage-dealer, but certainly can’t stand up to enemies like a tanker or brute, and have no aggro-building capability.

Stalker:  Very similar to a scrapper, but with a slightly higher overall damage, critical strikes, lower defense, and the ability to enter into stealth and perform devastating ambush attacks.

Arachnos Widow: Similar to the stalker, but with a greater focus on overall damage, no stealth, and leadership abilities/group buffs.  This class can branch into two sub-classes, theFortunata, which focuses more on ranged damage and control abilities, and the Night Widow, which focuses more on melee damage.

Arachnos Soldier:  A heavily-armored archetype with a hybrid focus on melee damage, medium-range damage, and pets.  Also, like the widow, has group buffing abilities.  The soldier can branch into two sub-classes, the Crab Spider, which gives access to a claw backpack that proides powerful AoE abilities and overall damage at medium and melee range, or the Bane Spider, which grants stealth, high single-target damage, and more tactical abilities.

Ranged Damage

Blaster:  The consummate destroyer of the game, blasters are unmatched in terms of sheer damage potential, and are even able to cause havoc at melee range.  The more frequently they attack, the more damage they do.  This comes at the expense of survivability and support capacity; blasters are extremely fragile and offer nothing to a group in terms of utility.

Corruptor:  A more complex version of the blaster, the corruptor has no melee damage capability, but plenty of support capacity.  They do respectable ranged damage, and even double damage to enemies below a certain HP threshold.  Most importantly, corruptors can support a group very well with healing and buffing abilities.

Crowd-Control

Dominator:  Like a blaster, the dominator is capable of dishing out good damage at both range and in close-quarters.  They are also very fragile.  Unlike the blaster, a dominator has a huge selection of crowd-control abilities to choose from, allowing them to lock down foes en masse or one at a time, rendering them helpless.

Controller:  Controllers sacrifice damage potential for their ability to support a group with buffs and healing.  They are often the backbone of any team, able to mitigate great amounts of damage through their ability to both lock down enemies and increase the effectiveness of a party.

Support

Defender:  Though several archetypes could fit under the support category, the defender is the one that truly defines it.  Though they are capable of dealing ranged damage, the defender offers the best support abilities in the game.  They are unmatched in terms of their ability to buffs allies, debuff enemies, and provide healing.

Pets

Mastermind:  Several archetypes are able to have a pet or two in addition to their standard abilities (dominators, corruptors, controllers, widows, soldiers), but only the mastermind can summon a true horde of enemies.  They have access to a unique branch of powersets that offer them offense in the form of control over a squad of enemies ranging from mercenaries to demons to ninjas to undead and more.  They are a superb support class, and overall extremely effective solo.

City of Heroes Screenshots

City of Heroes Featured Video

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Full Review

City of Heroes Review

By B. Olivia

City of Heroes!  A game that’s been out since before World of Warcraft, even.  A game with a history and a surprisingly devoted fanbase that’s been keeping it alive for nearly eight years.  After all that time, the game has finally gone free-to-play, and I for one, couldn’t be happier.  It’s a game that those who enjoy making overpowered, awesome-looking characters to stomp hordes of baddies with will enjoy immensely.  The potential for roleplay and losing time and money to customization and powergaming is immense, so number-crunchers and costume designers beware; this could be your perfect distraction.

The game has aged surprisingly well.  In the past two years, it’s received a huge graphics overhaul, adding lots of high-end effects and texture updates to make the ancient engine look surprisingly pretty.  Though the gameplay is decidely clunky and old-school, this may actually be a plus for some.  At the very least, the game certainly isn’t awful to look at, so don’t let its apparent age fool you.

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The Spice of Life

There’s just so much costume variety to be had, it’s overwhelming.  I’ve been an on and off fan of City of Heroes (CoH) for years, so I always find myself coming back sometimes to make a new character or pick up an old one.  If character customization is your cup of tea, then CoH will not disappoint.  Some of the best costume parts are unlockable in the game’s premium item store, but the base game already provides a huge selection to choose from, and really, only the most fanatic of character-designers will feel the need to buy the extra cosmetics.

Almost any concept can be dreamed up and represented in CoH’s character creator.  Do you want to be a miniotaur with a beam rifle wearing cool glasses?  Go ahead.  Would you rather be a thirteen year-old girl with a katana, a schoolgirl uniform, armor made from pure darkness, and glowing lightning eyes?  Sure!  A reptillian-looking woman that spits acid and carries a rifle and commands a troop of mercenaries?  Totally doable!  The list goes on and on.  Not only can you customize your outfit, but the power set combinations provide another layer of creativity.  On top of that, your powers can be customized down to the shade and color, and even have alternate animations.

For someone completely OCD about getting her character looking and feeling just right, CoH is a godsend.

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Group Play > Solo Play

It’s unfortunately true.  CoH is a total blast to play in a large group.  But the solo game has been and apparently always will be very dull.  The game itself plays a bit slowly, like an old-school MMORPG, with long cooldowns and animation times for powers.  This becomes painfully punctuated in solo play, especially at low levels, so those of you looking for a more fast-paced, frenetic experience should look elsewhere.  Once you find yourself rolling with a full group of eight people, all buffed up and ready to rumble with a good balancing of archetypes, you’ll have a lot of fun.  Everything suddenly becomse chaotic and exciting, with flashy powers going off constantly and all kinds of action to keep track of.

It’s also very satisfying to completely crush enemies that would normally crush you, because you’re in a well-balanced group.  Synergy is a big deal in CoH, as player group buffs tend to be extremely powerful, making support classes a lot more than just healers.  Some support classes, in fact, have no healing capability at all (depending on which powersets they chose), and instead make their teammates nigh-invincible by buffing up allies damage or defense, or debuffing the enemy.  This means that players playing as the same archetype can still have their synergies and usefulness overlap in a group, depending on their powerset choices.

This is something I love about CoH.  But I’ve always wished the gameplay were smoother, faster, and more entertaining solo.  Unfortunately, it isn’t – but that’s fine for the group-minded player.

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PVP?  Not so much.

For the same reason group play is more fun than solo play, PVP is a lot less fun than PVE.  PVP in CoH is woefully imbalanced and hardly ever addressed or made into a central part of the game.  This is fine for those who just PVP as a casual diversion, but less so for those who actually want a competitive, balanced experience.  The overwhelming fun of over-the-top player powers is what makes PVE so great, but this will always come at the expense of PVP balance and enjoyment.

It also doesn’t help that the game’s clunkiness makes PVP an awkward game of jousting.  Some people enjoy the PVP in CoH, but I was never really able to get into it, which is unusual for me, since I generally enjoy PVP quite a lot.

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What the Depth?

CoH can be overwhelming to the unitiated.  You might notice upon logging into your character for the first time that the game offers to let you flag yourself as a “helper” or someone who needs help, or neither.  This is the game’s way of handling new players unavoidable questions and confusion, since the game itself is so complicated and deep that no amount of written tutorial can possibly get someone fully accquainted with mastering it all.  From enhancements to crafting to origins to proper power choices to slotting to incarnate abilities… CoH offers so many unique ways to customize and min-max your character that it’s completely necessary to seek out the help of a veteran.  Drowning is most likely to ensue, otherwise.

This ties right back into the previous points made about soloing versus social-play in CoH; the game just isn’t designed for loners.  It’s a very social community and a very social game model.  If you dislike striking up conversations or asking questions in game, then you might want to steer clear.  Or you could just take that as a challenge and strive to figure it all out on your own.

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Overall: Great

This is a fantastic game for a certain kind of gamer, and now that it’s free, I can’t think of many other titles more worth your time.  It ranks right up there with Champions Online, Lord of the Rings Online, and Maple Story in terms of quality entertainment and fun factor.  The free-to-play option itself is great, offering a huge selection of options and entertainment without any investment of money.  It’s also able to fill a great niche; the old-school, team-based PVE dungeon crawler, but with a heroic twist, and great character customization.  Highly recommended.

Screenshots

City of Heroes Screenshots

Videos

City of Heroes Videos

City of Heroes Character Creation Video

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City of Heroes Newbie Area Video

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City of Heroes Official Trailer

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City of Heroes Gameplay Footage

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System Requirements

City of Heroes System Requirements

Minimum Requirements:
OS: Windows 98 / 2000 / ME / XP / Vista
CPU: Pentium 3 800 MHz or AMD Equivalent
RAM: 256 MB Free
HDD: 4.0 GB Free
Graphics Card: NVIDIA GeForce 2 Series, ATI Radeon 7500 or Intel i810G Series Video Card

Recommended Specifications:
OS: Windows 98 / 2000 / ME / XP / Vista
CPU: Pentium 4 2.0 Ghz or AMD Equivalent
RAM: 1024 (1GB) MB or more
HDD: 4.0 GB Free
Graphics Card: NVIDIA GeForce 6200

 
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