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City of Villains:
I need a support group.

 (Warning:  Because this game is rated 16+, Jared suggests that you consult your parents before reading this if you're younger than that.  Seriously.  Go to your Mom right now and ask permission.  Mostly because by the end of this article I'm going to perform an experiment in exactly why you need to have already started puberty before playing this game.  You were warned.)

It's no secret that online gaming will swallow your soul.  This has been one of several reasons I've never really sought to find out what all the noise was about...I knew that if I truly got sucked in I would simply cease to be.  It's sort of like why I don't plan on having kids any time soon:  I really don't know when I'll have lots of money and 18 years of my life free to spare.  You know, because I ALREADY don't have enough free time to shed carelessly.  

So, like a unwanted child you're accidentally having with that girl who you otherwise wouldn't marry, something happened.  A friend of mine gave me a 6-month subscription to the MMORG (Massive Multi-player Online Role-playing Game...I think) known as "City of Villains" with the stipulation that I actually play it and review it if I get the chance to.  As a few of you might have noticed, since I started playing it two weeks ago, there have been less updates on the site.  This is NOT a coincidence.  All the rumors are true; online gaming is the equivalent of digital crack cocaine.  I've found myself simply logging in "to play for a few minutes" only to find that a few minutes can easily turn into a twelve-hour gaming session of doom.  I'm not proud of this.  As someone who's a poor video game player who just gets REALLY obsessed with games for a short while, an epic role-playing game where you can have adventures with thousands of other online characters (that are controlled by honest-to-goodness real people) is almost to much for me.  That said, I'm going to walk you through my impressions after over 36 hours of playing the game (in total, more or less....probably more.)  The scary thing is that was not enough time to cover everything, but God Damn it, I need to review this bastard and purge myself of its power just a little.  Plus, if you like the game enough, you can buy it yourself, send me an email, and we'll stomp on the forces of good together.  You know, because you've always dreamed of doing that with me.  Don't lie.  I know what you want, baby.

So what is City of Villains?

City of Villains is an online game where you create a comic-book villain of your very own and then use it to steal, murder, and destroy practically everything you happen to stumble across.  That's a gross oversimplification, but that's it in a nutshell.  Along the way you can help other super-villains achieve THEIR goals of destroying everything.  It is also one of the few massive online games that does NOT feature Elves.  While you might not think that needs to be said, for someone like myself who really can NOT get into traditional fantasy games based of the work of Tolkien (OMG Dwarves and Elves!) this is clearly an important bonus for the game.  I know that I'm the weirdo here...but I can tolerate all sorts of comic-book inspired crap before I spend a chunk of my life pretending my online character isn't Legolas.  But I digress.  The European version of CoV is rated 16+, which is pretty interesting when someone points out that City of Villains is actually a sequel/updating of another online game with a different rating entirely:

City of Heroes, the version of the game where you play (you guessed it) super-HEROES, is rated 12+.  So what's required to play City of Villains that isn't required to play City of Heroes?  Pubic hair apparently.  While I am curious to know how City of Heroes plays, the fact that they decided to put "Captain Dillhole" on the cover pretty much summarizes what I find retarded about the super-hero genre:  Only the villains get the cool costumes.  I'm sure it's different in the actual game, but just looking at the cover-art for CoH makes me want to rename the game "Captain Dorkface, his one ethnic friend, and his big white posse."  Seriously, there's nothing but cornbread honkies on that cover, save one genie.  And he's a freaking Genie:  A big dark-skinned magical SLAVE that grants wishes to the white people all around him.  Oh, of course there's also a guy with dreadlocks in the background, but he's all covered in birth defects and has no lips...so we'll ignore him despite his ethnic reggae hair.  Because making the one other black guy ALSO the hideously deformed superhero sort of negates the whole "cultural balance" aspect you might have achieved.

You might also notice that there are a lot of women with exceptionally large breasts on the cover of CoH.  This is an important aspect of the game I'll expound on later as, though it isn't represented on the City of Villains cover art, it'll be important to explain later. 

So back to City of Villains....

The main awesomeness of this game is creating your own character.  A LOT of people joke that the character creation process is the best part of the game and, while I disagree, I understand why they say that.  Even just making a quick character can take the better part of an hour, as you play dolly-dress-up with the template system before finally giving birth to something that is potentially original.  No longer do you have to tolerate what some profoundly uncreative game designed chose for you.  Yes, you can really make practically anything.

...such as a giant pink Frankenstein-monster guerilla fighter who shoots radiation at his enemies.  You can't tell this from the picture, but he's roughly twice the height of everyone else in the game, including bosses.  This character was my first attempt, before I realized just HOW flexible the character creation process was. 

...which is why I tested the system by making a Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot.  It was surprisingly easy...which says a lot for the CoV character creation system.  It didn't take me long to just create a lot of different characters just to see what was possible and how the different types of characters worked.  While I'll go into that in more detail later, just understand this:  You can pretty much make anything.  From Ninja Pirate Robot Zombies that can turn invisible and stab their enemies through the brain to evil sorcerers who summon armies of zombies to combat robots dressed in pink that can cave in your skull to tiny midgets that can throw cars at you with the power of their mind...the game's got a lot of bases covered.  It doesn't include EVERYTHING but you'll have to spend the better part of a lifetime online before really running out of options.

Speaking of options, let me just share one character I saw while running around the game.  He's not mine but, when illustrating how you can get away with making anything in this game (which isn't always a good thing), he had to be shared:

Yes, you can make a hairy werewolf in a diaper.  I did warn you, in this game you can make anything.  And when it comes to the creativity of other people, you will see EVERYTHING.   (By the way, I did NOT talk to "Diaper Fur in-game...I was really too afraid to approach someone who was willing to broadcast their fetishes so openly.  I'm shallow, I know.  Oh and if you look at the above picture closely enough, you'll note the legs of a homeless man lurking behind the diaper full of fur.  It's that kind of detail that you don't expect.  Particularly when a furry with a diaper fetish is staring you right in the face, figuratively speaking.)

 

Back to the actual game.  Once you decide on a "look", it's time to send your creation out in the world in search of fame and fortune.  Actually, you don't make money in this game...but since you can actually spend your fame (or infamy) to purchase things, the two pretty much serve the same purpose.  It's an interesting system if you step back and look at it:  You can honestly spend the cool points you get by killing 1000 ninjas one after the other to buy a jet pack or just some new boots.  If only real life was that easy.  Then again, I'd probably go into "cool point debt" for sitting here typing up some of the reviews you guys have seen on the site.  But I digress.

The game starts with an optional tutorial where your character is declared to be "the chosen one" and is broken out of super-prison.  While it's not terribly interesting, it will teach you the basics of the game.  And by basics, I really mean BASIC.  For instance, you're first mission is to get some aspirin for one of the other escaped prisoners.  This is pretty funny because you can SEE the aspirin from where he's standing.  While none of the other missions I've found in the game are this asinine ("so retarded, it's like ass") it's a funny way to start your game.  The tutorial is admittedly easy but I recommend it to everyone, if only because by the end of it you level up and gain a new ability.  The name of the ability?  "Rest."  :blink blink:  That's right kids, you have to level up before your character learns to go to bed.  That's sort of a joke...only not.  "Rest" is a really necessary ability in the game where you...errr...rest in one place and regain life and energy.  It's pretty funny because after a particularly unsuccessful battle you'll be running through the streets, pursued by a mob of zombies, while you look for a good place to take a nap.    Seriously.

And here's the screen you'll be looking at for the majority of your CoV playing experience.  If you've been away from online gaming (or just gaming in general), you'll most likely be impressed with the graphics.  While they're not photo-realistic, they're still really, really good.  The world is HUGE and filled with nice little flourishes ranging from graffiti to homeless people being beaten by cops.  And while the whole world is a horrid slum-hole where terrible things make is unsafe to walk across the street (I'm not sure how ANYONE without superpowers could even step outside their home in this game's universe), the weather is always nice.  Seriously.  I've spent quite a bit of time playing this game and I've yet to see it rain.  There may be garbage everywhere, but your super-criminal won't be needing an umbrella anytime soon.  But like I said, the game is really, really big.  Luckily you'll eventually learn to fly, teleport, or run as super-speed to make getting around easier but until then, you'll be reminded that you're paying a subscription fee to watch your online character perform a re-enactment of Forest Gump, where he runs across the entire United States.  I love City of Villains for making their game world so big, but when you have a destination that is about 10 miles away, you will eventually learn to hate them for it.

The game pretty much works like this:  You complete missions that are given to you by certain contact NPC's you run across.  Since my Mom might be reading this article, "NPC" stands for "non-player character".  NPC's are great in this game, because no matter what you name your character (or what your character is), they'll always respond to you the same way:

The Fatemaster:  "I have gazed upon the stars and I see great things in your future, ASSFACE2000.  There will come a time of struggle, but in those days of woe and suffering, the name of ASSFACE2000 will be a rallying point to our people.  Go out into the world, ASSFACE2000, and go with God."

Now while you think that might be a criticism of the game, it's not.  I LIKE the fact that no matter what I make, the game-controlled characters will still talk to me.  Unlike some of the other players I've met online.  But more on that later.  But since you brought it up, maybe it IS time to be a bit more critical.

Disclaimer on Criticisms:  I actually like this game and, looking over them, my complaints aren't that major.  But that's never stopped me from sharing them.

Criticism #1:  Dear God, what is wrong with my computer?  While it obviously doesn't affect everyone, some of you are going to have to seriously get used to load screens as I've had to over the past couple of weeks.  I'm not sure what it is, as my connection speed is as lightning and my computer is fast enough to reanimate Toy Story on it's own if need be (a by product of my old Film School/animation days).  So I'm not sure why it takes me so much longer to log into missions or new areas than it does most of the other players I go on these missions with.  I'm sure it's got something to do on my end, but I'll be damned if I can figure it out.  The game runs fine one it's finished loading, but I've literally had to put a book next to the computer so that I have something to do while I wait.  So in truth, my real motivation for not dying in-game is so that I don't have to sit through the load screen again.  I doubt the game was designed with this in mind, but it definitely makes me put my all in keeping my little super villain alive for as long as possible.

Criticism #2:  You know how I already said that there's no way for me to review everything in this game because of its size?  One of those things I can't review are things called "Veteran Rewards".  When you start to meet other characters, you'll see people running around with capes, wings, trench coats, witch's hats, and other neat little accessories you didn't see when you were making your character.  These things are only available to people who have been playing the game for a certain amount of time.  While some of these are cool (bat wings and trench coats for instance), other rewards are kind of embarrassing.  The fact that you have to play the game for 9 months to unlock the ability to wear man-dresses known as "kilts" is one such example.  I won't say any more about this, but the fact that after 27 months of game play and hundreds of dollars later,  you get to wear Samurai armor is sort of telling:  If you're a hardcore addict to our game, we will give you cool stuff.  That's cool, though not all the "veteran rewards" are worth waiting around for.  Like the ability to put Greek letters on your chest.  Still, the game does reward you for being an addict, and that's always cool.  Even if your prize is sort of silly sometimes. 

Criticism #3:  Censorship.

While I don't think this is a criticism, I'd love to know why the "F-word" as well as the word "crap", "bitch" and "bastard" are all censored just as much as the word "GOD".  In the game you can still type the word Jesus or Christ, but typing the word GOD shows up in the chat window as <BLEEP!>.  Was there wanton God-bashing in the the early days of CoV?  Since I named my character "OhGodtheRats" after the H.P. Lovecraft story "The Rats in the Walls" (fun trivia for anyone who's wondered where the name came from), everyone who wants to talk to my character ends up looking like they curse like a sailor.  So remember, don't say the word "GOD".  It might not be four letters, but it's offensive as hell.

Enough crappy criticism.  Let's just talk about a few of the weird things in the game.

Do you like genocide?  Then you'll love the first few hours of City of Villains.  No matter how you go, your character will have no option except to massacre armies of Snake People.  I'm not talking about "a couple of missions".  No, I'm saying you're going to have to spend hours killing a bunch of legless people covered with scales.  Oddly enough, all the snake people seem to have named their children with names that start with the letter "S"...which, as you can see from the above picture, is just sort of cruel.  Sort of how the word "lisp" has an "sp" in it.  If you can't, as an ethnic people, say the letter, why would you name your first born daughter SSSSSSSSSussssssssssan?  Maybe it's a snake pride thing.

It might also be good to mention that, in the background of the game, are certain character that while you can't attack or talk to them, they nevertheless demand your attention.  Like this fellow:

Yes.  When they made CoV, they went the "realism" route and included a man who projectile vomits in the corner of a bar once every eight seconds.  He's like an unstoppable fountain of puke.  Oddly enough (on that topic), there are a lot of enemies who attack you by throwing up on you.  Hell, one of the powers you can buy is the ability to make zombies vomit on YOUR enemies in retaliation.  I don't know why vomit shows up so much in City of Villain but man, it's everywhere.

"Ghost Widow" is one of the game's famous NPC's.  She confuses the heck out of me.  Really.  She's going to give me a brain aneurysm.  Here's why:  She's a widow.  That means her husband died, right?  Maybe she killed him, maybe not.  And she's also a ghost?  So doesn't that mean she's reunited with her dead husband?  Can you have widows in the afterlife?  Is her husband still alive and she's a widow because in the afterlife she's alone?  This important character in City of Villains also amuses me because she follows the "Scooby Doo" formula when it comes to her name.  Remember how Scooby Doo was filled by the _____ ghost or the Phantom ______?  I swear to Christ I hope that, after you beat her in combat, she starts screaming about how she would've gotta away with it if it wasn't for those pesky kids and their little dog too.

As much as I kid, it's hard to NOT love this game.  I'll be riding on the subway and suddenly game-related inspiration will hit.  I'll run home to test my theory.

Apparently you CAN make a killer Santa Claus.

How can you NOT love a game where you can watch Santa Claus punch out zombies while screaming "You've been Naughty!"?  I know I can't.

Speaking of things to love, I have yet to mention the very best reason to play the game.  In fact, it's the only reason I'm actually addicted to it:

Hell may be other people, but other people make City of Villains heaven.  And while the internet doesn't have a good record for meeting people who aren't asshats or really obnoxious (and these people are definitely playing CoV), you'll be surprised at how much you'll enjoy the digital company of strangers in a setting of super villainy.  This was the biggest "new" thing for me, as I've never played any cooperative online games before this.  I was surprised that you could literally build strategies along the lines of "Hey, I'll teleport behind the big guy, piss him off, and then lure him out here so Magma Boy can set him on fire.  While I'm doing that, the ninja and the guy with the robots will keep the Trolls from kicking my butt something awful."  It's this sort of stuff that is really responsible for my new-found addiction.  I'll be playing alone for a while until I'm about to log off...and then I'll be recruited into a team.  And since playing as a team is infinitely more fun than playing by yourself, you end up staying online.  "Just one more mission" you'll say.  I've made a few friends playing the game and, while some of them are friends because they find me funny (which is the main reason I have any online friends at all), some of them are my friends because they enjoy the company of a killer Santa Claus as he rips Snake People in half with his bare hands. 

Teams are also the main way that you'll interact with other players.  This will let you find out who's just obnoxious and only teaming up with you so they can level up faster and who's teaming up to have fun.  Speaking of team-ups, there are even some special events where Super Villains can be on a team with Super Heroes from City of Heroes.  This past Valentine's day, for example, I got to play my radioactive Frankenstein persona alongside two characters of heroic proportions.  Well, their proportions might not be that important.  With names like Booty Call and Pink Pleasure, maybe I should bring attention to their measurements:

I have never quite been comfortable with men pretending to be women.  Sure, this is a role-playing game but I've always been uneasy around the guy who wants to pretend to be the "big-breasted she-elf in a thong".  Then again, since this is the internet, none of this should be too surprising.  Considering how the comic-book genre is stereotypically filled with lonely men that like to look at big-breasted women (look at most super heroic females from the 1990's (in particular) to today, for example), I guess it makes sense to see so many OMG PROSTITUTE characters running around.  So, after a little reflection, I realized that maybe I'm missing out on something.  Now, I've NEVER made a female character for any role-playing game (dice or digital), so I figured it might be worth giving a try.  And, for the sake of comedy, I'll do my very best to make it over the top.  As a bonus, I'll walk you through the character creation process step-by-step.  Say hello to:

Jared's City of Villains

"How to make a Super Hooker" Player's Guide!

So, if people can make "real" characters under the pretense that they're not making a street-walker, I'm curious to see how far I can make it doing it intentionally.  I'll confess:  I was surprised at how easy this process was. 

Step 1:  Choose your Archetype.

This was the easiest step for me.  The five archetypes describe almost any kind of super villain you might want to make.  Brutes are super-strong and tough while Stalkers can turn invisible and assassinate people.  Dominators control the elements or people's minds, while Corruptors shoot fire, lasers, or whatever at people from a distance.  Masterminds are the oddball here, as you can literally make someone who summons the dead to fight for them or builds robots to commit their crimes.  It's actually pretty fun being able to send the ninjas in your command to their deaths.  Of course our goal here is to make a Super Slut (as that is apparently the purpose of this game for a lot of players) so we'll make a Dominator.  The main reason for this is that Dominators have a power called "Domination" and somehow that just screams horrifically wrong for a super call girl.

Step 2:  The Body Type.

Not much needs to be said here.  Do you want a midget or a monster?  A woman with a big butt or a skinny super-model?  Click next to add some skin to your little creation.

Step 3:  Design your Character

Here's where we really learn how adept City of Villains is for making scantily-clad villains of the night.  Just to start I've chosen some pigtails and a pleasant smile.  Hey, there's a button marked "chest".  As you can see in the above picture, it's turned all the way down.  I wonder what will happen if we set it as high as it will go?

The scientific term that you are looking to describe them is "giant gonzo boobs".  Ummmm.  Yeah.  That's almost wrong.  I can already tell our character is going to have some severe back problems later on, but it's too late to back out now.  Let's finish this experiment before my wife comes in and asks what I'm doing.

Let's see....tweak the colors and add some make-up.  It just occurred to me that anyone with a really weird fetish could totally indulge themselves with this thing.  I mean, there are several sets of animal ears and tails, so obviously the furry quarter is enjoying this.  But who else?


Do you like big-breasted women with facial scars?  We've got you covered!

What about gonzo-boobed ladies with overt facial scars that are also CLOWNS?  We've got something for everyone here at CoV!

Oh my.  They have a wide selection of revealing tops for you to place on your character.  I feel like I'm playing with my sister's Barbie right now.  It's that whole "I'm actually playing dress up with a fictional character" thing.  Oh well.  I wonder how sluttish they'll let me make her shirt.  I mean, this game is rated for those 16 years of age or older...

Wow.  I've had a few girlfriends who have worn such things for "special occasions" (and I might have for one evening that's best left undetailed) and I can't believe the game is going to let me run around like that.  Man, I understand that she doesn't have any nipples so it's alright, but...but...but...

:sigh:

I can already see the super-hooker creation process is going to be far too successful.

 

Yes, you can have your character just run around in her panties.  This is just wrong.  Awesome.  But wrong.

And here you go.  This is as smutty as I can manage to make the character.  Latex gloves, thigh-high stockings, a collar and fishnet body stocking.  Upon closer look, I'm really not comfortable making this my character.  I wonder what I can change to make it less troublesome for me?

Well, the chains are a good idea (because they cover up the nipples that aren't there) but the head just makes this all the more wrong.  Let's keep the chains and lose the head because I swear to God if I don't, she's going to visit me looking like this in my dreams tonight.

And there you have it.  I've made a super-powered prostitute that sets people's crotches on fire.  Oh, and she's into domination, apparently.  The creepy thing about this character is that NO ONE made a comment about how over the top she was.  In fact, I got far too many OMG J00 R H@WT messages that it began to become troubling.  More troubling was what happened when she died:

I can totally imagine that this might be a motivator to let your character die MORE often.  As much as someone might enjoy staring at a digital representation of a woman's butt, that doesn't change the fact that right now you're looking at a screenshot of a dead hooker lying face down in the dirt.  God, this game is awesome.  It makes me feel dirty right now, but just the fact that you CAN make something so far on the "Dear God that's too much" spectrum is really something to celebrate. 

Before I leave you with images of dead hookers dancing in your heads, let my Super-Slut character introduce you to something altogether new to folks who aren't involved in online gaming:  emotes. 

Emotes are little commands that let your character do things that are pointless in-game but help you express things that you can't do in words.  Simple ones let you wave or (as above) salute other characters.  While I'm not going to give you a complete list, I will share two that are particularly of note:

I don't know why, but the fact that the "dance" emote is the most frightening is just weird.  Throw in the fact that one of the dances you can do is simply your a character jumping up and down and you've got an emote for madness.  I've put a personal ban on use the "dance" emote as my super-hooker, mostly because the sheer amount of jiggling should be criminal...and I don't want to be banned from the game.  (On a similar note, you will see other characters dancing in your adventures in City of Villains.  I don't know why, but apparently online gaming is all about busting moves whenever you have nothing better to do.)

The other emote that I don't believe was "teabag."  While this could potentially be the most perverted thing ever, I eventually rallied my courage and typed in the command. 

Oh.  She has a cup of tea...and a tea bag. :whew:  As safe as that emote is, I'm definitely not going to try out the blumpkin or moneyshot varieties.  I might be sick and depraved for the sake of trying to be funny, but I do have my limits.

In conclusion:  I like City of Villains far too much.  While the actual game itself is just as flawed in content and storyline as the comic books and science fiction it takes as source material, that's part of why I love it.  And even better, you can set Snake People on fire in real time with a little help from your friends.  Check it out if you've got the time to spare and, more importantly, you want to play an online game that doesn't include elves.  You know, because those long-eared folk aren't to be trusted.

-jared

"who feels really dirty after creating the super-whore just because he could"

(Special Message:  If you play this game and use the European servers, drop me a line.  We'll totally go step on puppies together.  You know, because that's what evil characters do.) 

 

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Copyright 2007 Jared von Hindman or maybe just Jared Hindman.  It depends.  Any images used that are not Jared's are used via Fair Use review purposes and belong to their respective owners....who are nice people that don't want to sue me.

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