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Comic-Con Video Game Demo: DC Universe Online

Screenshot of Superman taking on a gang of villains from the game DC Universe...

Credit: Sony Online Entertainment

Above: Screenshot of Superman taking on a gang of villains from the game DC Universe Online.

One of the most eagerly anticipated video games is DC Universe Online. This is one of the latest MMOs (Massively Multiplayer Online game) using cutting edge technology. MMOs have increased in popularity over the years. About one-third of the multi-billion dollar video game industry comes from MMOs and that segment is growing. It is becoming an increasing challenge competing in the very competitive video game market to make a game that is going to capture the discerning tastes of the avid gamer and keep them entertained. Even the video game market isn't "recession-proof" as many had thought. Budget-minded players are making some serious choices on how they're spending their entertainment dollar.

I had a chance to hear from both creators and players at the DCU Online gaming demo at Comic-Con. Similar to other popular MMOs like WarCraft and EverQuest, DCU Online sets itself apart by players being able to create their own hero (or villain!) and have adventures in the DC Comics Universe. Anyone can play alongside iconic heroes like Batman and Superman or fiendish villains like Joker and Lex Luthor. Each character is completely customizable to suit each player. I was told that the costume you choose and what it's made of will affect your abilities. Very cool. While DC characters have appeared in several other video games, this will be the first time DC Comics will be the center of an MMO.

What's really exciting is the depth going into this game. The graphics and gameplay are amazing.

Photo caption:

Photo credit: Sony Online Entertainment

Screenshot of Batman and Robin in the game DC Universe Online.

Photo caption:

Photo credit: Sony Online Entertainment

Green Lantern battles Sinestro in this screenshot from DC Universe Online.

San Diego-based game publisher Sony Online Entertainment (EverQuest2, Star Wars: Galaxies) has been collaborating with premiere comic book artist Jim Lee (X-Men, Batman), lead writer Geoff Johns (Green Lantern), and comic book writing legend Marv Wolfman (Teen Titans, Crisis of Infinite Earths) to create a virtual world with the look and feel of Gotham City, Metropolis, Star Labs and other favorite hero haunts. Having these comic book greats as part of the development team gives DCU Online creative talent to draw upon that other games lack.

Another feature DCU Online has that others don't is greater interaction with the environment. In some games you're very limited in what you can do with the environment. You walk through it as a virtual ghost with no effect on the world around you. In DCU Online players have more freedom. You can lift and inspect objects that may be important to your mission. Or in the heat of battle you can pick up rubble and hurl it at a foe. A lot of the fans playing demos of the game agreed this was a fun effect. One example of this is being able to freeze an opponent in a block of ice and then hurl that block of ice at another enemy.

Photo caption:

Photo credit: Sony Online Entertainment

Superman battles Bizarro on the streets of Metropolis in this screenshot from DC Universe Online.

DCU Online will also be the first to offer the ability to play the same game on either your Playstation 3 or PC. Before, console games were limited to playing with players with the same console. Now PS3 players can play with PC players at the same time. This should make the game much more accessible to a wider gamer audience. There are also plans to use an online social networking application like MySpace or Facebook so players can maintain a “secret identity” and be a part of the game even when they’re not playing. DCU Online already has a MySpace page for fans to register and get updates.

Many of those trying DCU Online at Comic-Con were excited about the game and wanted to know when they could get their heroic hands on it. The game is still in development, but is expected to be released in 2010.

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