Hippo Manchester
November 17, 2005

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Games: City of Villains (PC)

NCSoft

**1/2

City of Heroes ate away at my social life for nearly three months; I quit cold turkey, ícause, well, I ďenjoy having a happy family life.Ē

Now NCSoft launches its latest offensive against the sanctity of my marriage with their Massive-multiplayer companion/expansion City of Villains. Itís just like City of Heroes except, you know, more evil. Players turn the tables on their heroic brethren by crafting super-powered neíer do wells and rampaging across the eeeeevil Rogue Isles and into three player vs. player zones. These shared zones allow CoV crooks to throw down with the goody two shoes of City of Heroes in epic super-brawls.

My main complaint with CoV is that, aside from the new player on player combat, itís little more than a redressing of its older brother with more skulls, chains, horns and black capes. Yes, character archetypes have been altered to play more aggressively, and the addition of ninja summoning powers for the Mastermind class of villain are exciting. Yes, the layout and design of the new zones are noticeably superior to their heroic counterparts. Yes, super group bases are a cool addition to both sides. But, like east coast rap vs. west coast rap, while the stylization differs the game remains the same.

Players slowly grind their way up from lowly thug to super-baddie by laying the beat down on various AI enemies. You can accept missions from various faction contacts that charge you with raiding enemy bases, robbing banks, hunting down bounties etc., etc. Most of these missions are merely redesigns of City of Heroes.

Considering that most of the new features are added to both City of Villains and City of Heroes alike it seems hard to credit CoV as a new game. Itís a beefy expansion certainly, but one does get the feeling that this would have been a heck of a lot more awesome had it been released alongside its elder title. This is not to undersell the absolute fun that City of Heroes/Villains represents. It is one of the top massively multiplayer games available and rightfully so. The comic superheroics/villainy is well executed and many of the pitfalls of  MMO games are skillfully avoided. For brand new players City of Villains possesses more bang for its buck. For the rest of us, who are now used to NCSofts periodic FREE content upgrades itís a bit disappointing that this is being sold as a full title rather than a reduced price expansion. Thankfully, owners of both titles donít have to shell out two monthly fees. ó Glenn Given

- Glenn Given