City of Villains Review

You awaken in your cell to the sounds of wailing sirens. Then you realize that the jail has been overrun by your fellow prisoners and you are fleeing for your life from the guards, being helped away by other prisoners and soldiers of a guy named Arachnos. You crawl through the sewers and are whisked away to freedom…to a place called “The Rogue Isles.” This is the world of City of Villains. City of Villains, the next generation release of City of Heroes was released to the world on October 31, 2005. As a long time player of City of Heroes, I was not only leery of the changes, but unusually excited by the idea that I can now create someone so evil that I could, with reckless abandon, take on the world in a manner of madness befitting a villain.

The joy of City of Villains is that while it can be purchased and played on its own, it is integrated with City of Heroes. By having both, for the same monthly subscription price, you go from having just a 8 character slots with one, to having 12 to cover the endless possibility of character power sets of both games. The character building gives you a choice of 5 different archetypes. One of these is the Brute. This character set is appropriately named, as it is built to take a beating and deliver one to any unsuspecting transient or hero who gets in your way. With high hit points and high damage output, it aids in a team by being able to take a lot of the enemy fire and protecting other team members. Just be warned, that, while it may be the most resilient of the archetypes, it is far from indestructible. The Brute has an added feature to it, called the Rage Bar. The Rage Bar allows for, as the fight goes longer and longer, the Brute’s attack to become even more powerful.

Another archetype is the stalker, which definitely lives up to its name. The first power that you get in the secondary power set for stalkers is the ability to become invisible. This ability, upon successful hit, also allows a guaranteed critical hit that doubles the damage output of the normal hit that it would incur. Stalkers are useful before a battle, because of their ability to run reconnaissance to determine the enemy numbers and types. But, with its low hit points, if you don’t have a good team, it can definitely spell disaster for stalkers as their head will bounce off the floor a fair amount, making you a favorite patient at the local hospital.

Masterminds have the ability of pet control. Right away, you have the option of having a pet. (They can be either a soldier, a ninja, a robot, or a zombie) As your level increases, so does the number of pets you control. And as your choice of powers increases, you end up being able to control various types of pets, winding up with 3 different pets you are controlling by the time you get to level 28. (mmm…Assault Bot) But, while the power of the pets is really good, they can be a bit difficult to control at times, and end up taking a lot of space, where, in cramped spaces, can mean that it is difficult to get past them. And with the added bonus of your pets tending to wander off and dragging large groups of enemies to you, this can be an added bonus for a team that just got past a rather nasty battle. But, don’t underestimate the value of a good set of pets. They can take the aggro away from a group and deliver, especially when you get the highest pet, some nasty damage.

Dominators are almost exactly as the name implies. With various melee and ranged attacks, the primary purpose of a dominator is to immobilize your opponents and control the enemy groups, so that your team can destroy them with ease. The dominators also introduce a combination of powersets that were available in City of Heroes, namely, the combining of defenders and controllers, but with one difference. The dominator has some good damage output. Dominators can not only take on fairly powerful enemies, but can also handle aggro from incoming groups. With individual and group holds, as well as with melee and ranged attacks, the dominator can be the most versatile member of your team playing offense as well as defense.

The final archetype is the corruptor. Although it has low hit points, it has an extremely high damage output. The corruptor can stand back and deliver a crushing blow to any enemy. They also have a secondary powerset that allows for the buffing if teammates or the debuffing of enemies, making them quite valuable to any team. Corruptors are not built to withstand too much punishment, and can also become a favorite of the doctors at the local hospital, if their high damage attacks should fail to hit their target.

The interface for the game is quite helpful, helping you to determining how much endurance or how many hitpoints you have, your location on the map, what direction you are going in, and what your enemy’s vitals are. But with all these windows that are open on the screen, it can get very crowded. One new feature is the map interface. It used to be that in order to get a clear idea of markers that were close together, you would have to zoom your map in. This became very tedious. Now, the developers have it set up that all you need to do is mouse over a clump of markers and they will spread themselves out. This allows to click on an intended destination and have it become your target with a much greater ease than before.

City of Villains is designed to stay in touch with the comic books genre. The zones, and everything in them, look like your comic book has appeared right before your eyes. There are cut scenes in some of the missions that definitely help to keep the comic book feel. Dialogue bubbles pop up above the heads of the various people or creatures in the cut scenes, allowing you to read in a frame by frame way while the animation is continuous.

One complaint I have regards the AI dialogue. Some of the AI feels like they would have the equivalency of a Grade 2 educations. But, by the same token, many comic book characters were less then stellar in their intellect. Time after time, you go around the Rogue Isles and missions, hearing, “We will arrest you!” or “You can’t do this!”, after having just mopped the floor with them, and watching the next ambush group come and say the same thing. It can definitely get a little repetitive.

The actual behavior of the AI can be a bit frustrating, to say the least. A new feature in City of Villains are missions where you must lead a kidnapped victim to the mission door that you entered from. The AI cannot figure out that the kidnapped person can go around a rock or jump off a ledge. Instead, it keeps trying to run into an object and gets terribly confused, sometimes resulting in you having to go back and get the kidnapped person.

While living the City of Villains experience, you may or may not notice the bland audio. Some of the attacks have a very unique and interesting sounds. But for the most part, many attacks sound like you are watching any sci-fi movie. However, this being said, it does not necessarily take anything away from the game. The game can be played with the sound off, and gives you even more of the comic book effect…just without the “Pow”, “Bam”, or “Zap”. If you are in a mission that requires you to find an object, however, you may want to have your audio turned up so that you can hear the sound that the object emanates. In a large map, this can save your skin and that last nerve that is quickly getting frayed in your efforts to find this normally very subtly hidden object.

As a special event for everyone playing City of Heroes and City of Villains, the developers arranged for a holiday event in honour of the Christmas season. A gift of a holiday jetpack is given to every character that signed up before Jan. 2, 2006. This does wonders for building a new character in a hurry, because you are suddenly blessed with the gift of flight. This has saved my behind on more than one occasion. There have also been presents left around the Rogue Isles for people to open that have varying results. Some presents, whether you have been judged to be naughty or nice, give you special inspirations, experience bonuses, or temporary powers (throwing snowballs at people is fun). Other presents spawn abominable snowman type creatures that are inevitably many levels above you, and crush you instantly.

As you progress with a character, there are many new story arcs to explore. If a player gets tired of a character, they can create another one. The gameplay changes based on the archetype and powersets that you choose for your Villain. Strategies need to be modified to shift the playstyle, and to keep from being squashed by an enemy. With the various missions, archetypes, street-fighting, and PVP, the gameplay is very lengthy and can go as long as the player chooses to go. If you have the urge to unleash your inner villain, then join Lord Recluse in his fight against the heroes.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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