A Star is Born:
Let’s Play Champions Online Pt. 12

By Shamus
on Dec 8, 2009
Filed under:
Shamus Plays

Despite my better judgment, I return to Socrates for my reward and for another job.

It’s actually not a good idea to read these.
It’s actually not a good idea to read these.

So… our creepy 1984-style big-brother cybermind just saw an explosion that mutated a bunch of scientists. He has no idea what caused it or why, or if it mutation is contagious, but he’s got the antidote worked out and he wants me to go over there and whip up a batch of the stuff for the eggheads. Well, it’s rotten nonsense, but I have to say it’s a lot less crazy and shame-inducing than fighting Foxbat. (Of course, the same could be said of using baby seals as a melee weapon to beat up crippled orphans on Christmas Eve.)

I arrive at the scene of the disaster to have a look at the damage.

staronchest_biotech.jpg

There are the refrigerator-sized containers strewn around the parking lot amongst the burning cars, mutated scientists, and terrorist soldiers. The containers ostensibly contain the resources I need. The terrorists contain a deep hatred for the establishment. The cars contain fire.

The scientists do not look well:

staronchest_scientists.jpg

They’re green, confused, and horribly deformed. On the upside they’ve stopped practicing science for a few hours, which is probably really good for the rest of the city.

Let’s see. I’ve got the shopping list Socrates handed to me right here…

5 Acetylated Gemmulites.
5 Synthetic Chomatin
5 Unstable Ribonucleic Nucleotides

I land next to a container and perform the now familiar process of converting terrorist heads into knuckle-dented balls of mush. Once complete, I rip open the container and find it contains exactly one (1) Synthetic Chomatin. I guess the rest is just full of bubble wrap and Styrofoam peanuts?

Should I be handling this stuff? Shouldn’t I be using gloves or tongs or something?

Remember terrorists: I’m not happy until <em>you’re</em> not happy.
Remember terrorists: I’m not happy until you’re not happy.

I take a look around at the sea of crates and murderous terrorists. As far as I can tell, their plans seem to be:

1) Find the site of a recent biological disaster and guard any crates they find in parking lot.
2) That’s pretty much it.

I need 15 total science chemical thingies. Each crate contains exactly one. Each crate is guarded by 3 terrorists.

15 chemical things x 3 terrorists = 45 letters the terrorist commander is going to need to write to new terrorist widows.

Once I’ve secured the ingredients, I head for the apparatus. Apparently the machine to make the mutation-curing serum is sitting in the front lawn instead of being inside and plugged in to something. A few seconds later I have a vial full of some sort of mutant-b-gone. Also note: The science center is still on fire. Someone should do something about that.

This is where you craft the serum? I don’t see anywhere to put the ingredients in.  Or any buttons. Or any sort of interface at all, other than… are those handles? What <strong>is</strong> this thing? Do I even know how to use it?
This is where you craft the serum? I don’t see anywhere to put the ingredients in. Or any buttons. Or any sort of interface at all, other than… are those handles? What is this thing? Do I even know how to use it?

Then I run around give the green-skinned nerds a dose of the stuff. They come around right away. Well, mostly. Their bodies seem healthy enough. They run away towards the terrorists after being cured, so their brains might not be 100% fixed. They’re either brain-damaged and about to be murdered by terrorists, or they’re cured and they’re going to head back to the lab and find an even more destructive way to bring about their own deaths.

At any rate, that’s the best I can do. I’m outta here.

staronchest_biotech3.jpg

The fire, rubble, and Viper soldiers I’ll leave for someone else to deal with.

Nearby, I find…

staronchest_planted_container.jpg

Someone has planted a cargo container here, for unknown purposes. Or is this modern art? I’d best leave it alone just in case.

I have a quiet moment to myself here on the roof of a building which is probably in the process of being robbed. As I listen to the wail of alarms and look out over the parking lot full of of litter, arson, gang warfare, and poorly arranged cargo containers, it occurs to me that this city has a lot of problems and despite the time I’ve invested I haven’t done much to help.

You know, maybe my problem is that I’ve been working for Socrates all this time. Maybe he’s just broken and nobody’s bothered to hang an “out of order” sign on his kiosk yet. Maybe I need to find someone else to direct my efforts. I need to find someone who knows the city but who hasn’t gone out of their mind yet. It’s certainly worth a try.

What luck, I run into a police officer in need of help. Turns out Lt. Kevin McClintock is about to go on patrol through the dangerous part of the city and he’d like an escort.

Yes! Finally, someone sane in this mixed-up city.
Yes! Finally, someone sane in this mixed-up city.

You see? This is what I’m talking about. Human stories. People coming together to make the city a better place. It doesn’t matter if you have superpowers or not, as long as you have a shred of courage and you’re willing to work hard, you can be just as big a hero as anyone wearing a cape.

Sure thing officer. Let’s go.

staronchest_cop2.jpg

Okay. You’ve drawn your gun. I don’t know that you need that just yet. I mean, let’s have a look around and see…

staronchest_cop3.jpg

You want to get some West Side trash? So we’re on litter duty? No? I don’t underst-

OH MY GOSH YOU’RE SHOOTING PEOPLE?!?

The people on the other side of the street return fire. I sort of panic a bit, but they’re shooting at Lt. McClintock and I figure I have to protect him. He’s a cop, and must have seen something I didn’t. I jump in and try to draw their attention, using my body to shield McClintock from the hail of gunfire.

The bad guys fall and I look around to see who might have seen that.

staronchest_cop4.jpg

“Get a roll on?” Is that police talk? I don’t know what that means, unless you’re telling me you need deodorant.

Look, I can tell you’re pretty excited here, but I didn’t see those guys committing any crimes. I mean, it’s not my place to tell you how to do your job, but shouldn’t you at least try to arrest them before you go shooting up the neighborhood? I could scout ahead an-

staronchest_cop9.jpg

Lt. McClintock suddenly spots another group of men standing together and decides to execute them for the crime of defending themselves from being executed. Against my better judgment I once again prevent him from dying in his suicide charge.

I am really uncomfortable with this entire situation, and I try to get the officer to maybe stop and explain what we’re trying to accomplish here. I know I’ve punched my share of people into the afterlife, but they were at least guilty of something when I did so, and they usually took the first shot. And I’d expect a little more due process out of an actual officer of the law. This isn’t even-

Lt. McClintock ignores me and keeps walking. At this point I notice that despite my best efforts, he’s in pretty bad shape. He’s taken a few hits and could do with a little medical attention. But the blood loss has done nothing to quell his blood lust, and he pushes onward despite my protests.

staronchest_cop6.jpg

Not again.

Fifteen seconds later we’ve got another inconvenient pile of corpses. And Lt. McClintock has a few more leaks in his non-super hide.

Does that hurt? It looks like it hurts.
Does that hurt? It looks like it hurts.

Feeling a little woozy, Officer McClintock? How about a free flight to the hospital? My treat. Ever fly with a super before? It’s lots of fun. Better than a rollercoaster. We can get you all patched up. Mercy Hospital isn’t far. I’ll bet the nurses there are cute. And then maybe some of your friends on the force will drop by and we can talk about your… enthusiastic approach to crime fighting. Whaddya say?

staronchest_cop5.jpg

I really am at a loss here. Heedless of his wounds, Officer McClintock rushes forward and begins firing into the crowd of heavily-armed men. And it looks like he’s managed to attract the attention of some of Foxbat’s goons. So now we’re fighting a two-front war. In the open. Against vastly superior numbers. We might actually have a chance here if Lt. Murder wouldn’t charge into the fray halfway through the fight and start punching people with his gun.

Yeah. Ya gotta love escort missions.

I can’t say this was a surprise.
I can’t say this was a surprise.

A few seconds later he succumbs to his unfortunate condition of being too much stupid and not much bulletproof.

I mop up the foes. Then I look backwards over the trail of blood and death we’ve left in our wake and realize that I have no way to explain any of this. I skulk away and conclude that whatever I’m going to do at this point, I should do it far away in another part of the city.

Maybe Socrates has some jobs for me…

Next Week: Adventure, excitement, and concocting a plausible alibi for what we were doing this week! Don’t miss it!

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20205Feeling chatty? There are 45 comments.

From the Archives:

  1. Volatar says:

    Hahahaha! This one was great! I hate escort missions, regardless of what game they are in. They even are higher on my hate list than forced stealth sections in beat-em-up games!

    Keep them coming Shamus, this stuff is great :D

  2. Captain Kail says:

    I had a good laugh at this one. Shamus, I love the flavor and story you bring to this game. It almost makes me wanna play City of Heroes, but the expectations of hilarity and adventure might leave me wanting in the real game.

  3. Yonder says:

    I don’t know if the “I was just following orders” defense is going to work in this case. Does Super Hero outrank police Officer?

    Luckily for you it seems like as long as Foxbat is littering and loitering around the city none of the higher ups will focus on any of the more pressing issues like a rogue police officer and superhero going on a murderous rampage in the slums.

    Maybe all of the higher ups have committed similar criminal acts. They are focusing on the more minor problems because an investigation into the real issues would uncover the skeletons in their closets.

    This way by the time any Super has been in the city long enough to start getting into the more nefarious plots they will have enough dirt on them that the guys in charge will be able to keep them quiet.

  4. Pickly says:

    Awesome, now I’ve had a day to mull it over and create a really awesome comment. :) (It was accidentally posted yesterday, which is how Volatar commented, and I was ableo t read it.)

    First, the technobabble analysis:

    Acetylated Gemmulites: Acetylated is a real word, that’s about all I can say. I have not heard of gemmulites, so do not know if they are real, what they are/would be, and whether they could be acetylated.

    Synthetic Chomatin: This one actually sounds potentially klike it could be real. I haven’t heard of chomatin, though, so do not know if they’ve made that up. If it is made by living beings, though, it certainly could be artificial.

    Unstable Ribonucleic Nucleotides: This one also could be real, (RNA nucleotidesa are real, and there are presumably ways to make them unstable through some chemical treatment or other.)

    (The rest of that mission is still just babble, though. Not like you couldn’t have figured that out. :) )

    As for what the terrorists are doing, maybe they’re hoping to gain mutant powers by standing there? Or possibly it’s some intricate plan of some mastermind terrorist leader that we cannot hope ot comprehend.

    As for the escort mission, it does seem odd that they couldn’t have come up with a better way of handling it. (I have actually played some all right escort missions in the past, and it does seem odd that the police person wouldn’t just give directions and such.) Are all superheros given some ability to heal others? If not, it seems the police guy should have been given such an ability as well.

    As for the police guy being nutty, the overly aggressive police guy does seem plausible in a general sense, though not in the form shown here, ad that still doesn’t help the gameplay problems at all.

    These have been quite enjoyable, how many more of these do you think you’ll be doing?

  5. SoldierHawk says:

    Hahaha this was absolutely classic Shamus. That cop offing all of those people without provocation was hilarious! I know the creators obviously need to give you some foes to fight, but the way you presented it was so damn funny. Very well done!

  6. MelTorefas says:

    On the subject of murder-crazed NPCs…
    “Halt, halt, in the name of Antonius Bayle!”

    *couldn’t resist*

  7. Mazinja says:

    Augh escort missions!

    the ones in CO are especially bad because the escorts do not regenerate health once battle is done! That quest you posted there took me like FIVE TRIES YARGBLE.

    It wouldn’t be as bad if they had at least taken a page out of WoW’s book and had the escorts regenerate health.

    Oh, and this is by far not the most annoying Escort mission… how about… escorting Foxbat through Dr. Destroyer’s lair?

  8. Adalore says:

    Urg escorts…

    Last time I played a game that had escort missions it was Pokemon mystery dungeon. If I could set it up that the escortee would be in the middle of my party, and have them run away, rather then trying to slug it out with monsters 40 levels above it.

    So many lost revival items…

  9. Jay says:

    Socrates: Hmm, something at the lab is making people more powerful and extremely hostile. It might be contagious. I should send the most powerful people I can find to that area immediately!

    Socrates’ sysadmin: Yeah, we need to work on that.

  10. If this didn’t provide such hilarious blog-fodder, I’d say you’re wasting your life playing this game when you could be emptying lint traps or something.

  11. J Greely says:

    This is one of the rare cases where a two-person mission really does require two people, just to stay ahead of Kevin’s war on pre-crime and convince the probably-bad guys to shoot at you instead. Of course, as a new arrival in the City, you won’t know that you just stumbled across the bloodthirstiest cop in town, and probably won’t even notice that you’re supposed to bring a friend.

    If it takes two superheroes to bodyguard a cop while he walks around the block, perhaps his beat should be assigned to someone a little sturdier.

    Waterfront Watcher is another one like that, where you show up for a solo mission and suddenly find yourself doing a three-person escort. Of course, given your past treatment by the person you’re escorting, you shouldn’t really be surprised that he’s standing around watching you fight for your life.

    As for squishy escortees who don’t heal between fights, the one nice thing is that all the healing powers work on them. The medical droids make escorts so much easier that I’m willing to overlook their poor pathing and tendency to go off into the bushes and “heal” each other.

    -j

  12. Just had a thought about an escort mission idea that might be entirely cliched:

    You need to rescue a child. When you get to the child, they climb up on your back and, basically, stay out of the way of your powers, etc., so you can still do everything you want to without the child getting in the way.

    The innovation: when you take damage, the child takes (some) damage as well. So now you’re having to either stealth or be otherwise careful in combat.
    And to stop people from simple slow crawling back to the drop-off point, maybe put a timer on the child (degrading health over time anyway?) or similar.

    Just a thought.

  13. Glazius says:

    Man. Now I’m thankful for escorts that follow you rather than walking their own inexorable path.

  14. gkscotty says:

    Kevin McKlintock is one of the worst missions in the game I think. Challenge though NPC stupidity, lovely.

    Just read though all of these recently. They’re brilliant, but I’m starting to feel bad for poor Star on Chest. Give him a break and have him do the “burning building” mission. That’s a nice one for actually feeling heroic.

  15. Shamus says:

    If you actually finish this quest, the officer says, “See how hard it is to be a cop in this city?”

    Sure. I can imagine that roaming the streets alone and brazenly gunning down waves of gangsters would be a little on the tough side, yeah.

  16. Oleyo says:

    That was amazing Shamus. I love how you write with the character played completely straight, as if the game world is real. I hope you do this again with more games!

    Lets get this westside trash!

    • WJS says:

      Agreed, the only sane man in a world of madness is a great PoV piece, and pretty much all games provide plenty of fodder in that department. Plus of course Shamus writes it so well, it would be great to see more like this.

  17. Hal says:

    @Pickly:

    The “Chomatin” actually looks like a misspelling of Chromatin, the condensed amalgamation of DNA and proteins you’ll find in cell nuclei.

    Gemmulites . . . well, just doing a google search, it looks like gemmules were one of those fantasy particles that people used to explain things before we found how they actually worked. In this case, it looks like Darwin used them to explain inheritance. *Shrug* However, chromatin is often acetylated to facilitate gene expression, so the idea isn’t completely out there.

    “Ribonucleic Nucleotides” is a bit of a redundancy. For those who don’t remember junior high biology, there are two kinds of genetic material: Ribonucleic acids (RNA) and Deoxyribonucleic acids (DNA). As you might guess from the name, the difference between the two is a single oxygen molecule, although that small difference leads to properties that allows organisms to, well, exist.

    So, you’re grabbing for this mission . . . unassembled genetic material, synthetic genetic material, and . . . fake gametes that are ready to be expressed. The reality is that this is just “sciency” gibberish, but if you wanted to take it at face value, you just grabbed a bunch of gene manipulation stuff. Which, makes sense? I guess?

  18. Jarenth says:

    Blargh. Yeah, I remember this quest. Your experience pretty much mirrors mine. I tried it once, but around the time Lt. McClintock decided he’d try and single-handedly end gang violence in Millenium city, I figured it would be best for my health to just take a left turn into a random street and claim to be ‘lost’.

    Ah well. Maybe if he gets shot and nearly dies, they can turn him into Robocop or something. He certainly has the mentality for it.

  19. David H. says:

    Oh, my God. I laughed until I almost cried. “Let’s get this Westside trash!”

    Honestly, I can’t decide what the folks making this game need more: 1) decent writers or 2) a course in ethics, because GOOD LORD.

    This could’ve been salvaged, even. Say, the officer’s problem is that his corrupt supervisors have charged him to execute impossible arrest warrants — ie, they want him to get killed, so his only chance is to get your help and bring in the crooks. That makes comic-book sense, and it could be part of a running story angle. But, no, apparently he just *hates* people who live on the West Side.

  20. Michael says:

    Jamas, Saints Row 2 actually does something slightly similar in one of its later missions, where you’re evacuating a wounded gang member from an assault at a hospital. You can run and gun with his gurney, which will take some damage from gunfire, or you can leave his gurney and scout ahead. However his health will slowly deteriorate regardless of if he gets shot or not.

    Its still a very annoying sequence, but it’s not nearly as bad as most escort quests.

  21. JW says:

    That reminds me garbage day is coming up. I actually live on the west side of town.

    I’m going to get that Westside trash!

  22. Shawn says:

    I bet that cop is from the Eastside. Jerk.

  23. Blake says:

    “Let’s get this Westside trash!”

    I burst out laughing during that post. Kinda bad to do at work >_>

  24. Viktor says:

    Dead Rising had decent escort missions(and a lot of them). Granted, you still got annoyed at the NPCs whenever they refused to follow you and just stood there wasting ammo, but if the game can make an escort mission involving 6+ NPCs and endless waves of zombies both playable and fun, I’m willing to overlook a bit of annoyance. At least they never got stuck on scenery, just on packs of bloodthirsty monsters.

  25. Joshua says:

    Ugh, that reminds me of a couple of the escort missions from LOTRO.

  26. Joel D says:

    This was probably the funniest one yet. Well done!

  27. Greg from St Paul says:

    One of the things I like best about reading these is that I automatically read “Socrates” with the Bill and Ted pronunciation.

  28. SharpeRifle says:

    The thing that cracks me up is…that burning science building…also where the mutation trainer is.

    Who would trust him to train you?

  29. Joerg Mosthaf says:

    @Joshua #25: Legolas! Damn gung ho treehugger. :)

  30. UtopiaV1 says:

    Fantastic, this was the best one yet. I do hope that Officer McClintock becomes a regular edition to this series!

  31. MadTinkerer says:

    Y’know, in Dredd vs. Death, a FPS game where you play Judge Dredd (who, for those of you who are unfamiliar with the character, is not the most compassionate cop ever conceived in fiction) the cops arrest people. There’s even specific mechanics where you can intimidate people into surrendering and then cuff them without firing a shot.

    (And then it turns into a game about killing waves of vampires, but it starts out as a good game.)

    All games should portray police the Dredd vs. Death way: Arrest perps who are actually committing crimes, don’t arrest tough-looking guys who are just innocently minding their own business, and only shoot when necessary.

  32. Brian says:

    Has anyone noticed that the further we get into the madhouse that is Champions Online, the saner Star on Chest becomes?

  33. Adogg says:

    Great job Shamus. This one was very funny.

    I still can’t believe you have not done the Monster Island Crisis. It’s probably the best thing in the game. Also, you need to get a character to 40 so you can do the new Nemesis Confrontation lair.

    I’d love to hear your reviews of them!

  34. indep says:

    As I listen to the wail of alarms and look out over the parking lot full of of litter, arson, gang warfare, and poorly arranged cargo containers, it occurs to me that this city has a lot of problems and despite the time I’ve invested I haven’t done much to help.

    I’d like to point out that, despite a fresh coat of paint and the excessive terraforming to make the waterline conform to NYC, Millennium City is still Detroit.

  35. The whole “Let’s get this westside trash” section of this post was pure comedy gold.

  36. DKellis says:

    Unless it was changed recently, occasionally the crates each contain two (2) Synthetic Chomatins. Or Acetylated Gemmulites. Or whatever.

    I’ve never done the Waterfront Watcher mission, so I don’t know how much worse it is to McClintock’s. I’ve never done Waterfront Watcher because despite what the patch notes claim, I have never seen that mission work correctly. If it’s changed any time within the past couple of weeks, I wouldn’t know; I unsubscribed (for other, albeit similar, reasons).

    I kind of want to see Shamus blog about the later higher-level missions, just so I can see his reaction to the final boss encounter of Lemuria Crisis. (The one with the endurance-giving Qliphotic Energy.)

  37. WJS says:

    Hi, I’m thinking of subscribing to either Champions Online or City of Heroes, but I’m not sure which. Seeing as you’ve played them both, could you offer me a little advice please? (I’m trying the CoH free trial, but I can’t find an equivalent for CO, hence my asking). CoH is good, and I like the fact you get CoV with it, however I really like the sound of the greater customisation available in CO, such as the lack of restricting archetypes you mentioned in a previous chapter. Plus the graphics look a little nicer. Which would you recommend? Thanks for your time.

    • Shamus says:

      WJS: Interesting question. My take is that Champs has far, far more satisfying, action-oriented combat, and the graphics are newer.

      CoH has a LOT more content, better writing, more costume variety, and you can play as a villain.

  38. Blackbird71 says:

    @WJS (37)

    Personally I’d recommend CoH/CoV, at least for the time being. As Shamus has frequently lampooned, the writing in CO leaves much to be desired. More than that though, the game is still in the early stages, and there are plenty of bugs and balance issues to be worked out. If you really want to play CO, I’d wait a while longer and then see what comes of it.

  39. JP says:

    Shamus, just a note to say I LOVE these Star on Chest stories! It’s not often I literally LOL when I read something, but these make me do it frequntly. Good Job!

  40. WJS says:

    Thanks for the advice, I reckon I’ll stick with CoH for now, at least until Cryptic offer a free trial. CO looks fun, but I really do prefer to try games out before I buy them.

  41. NightstrikerX says:

    First time posting here, but.

    @WJS, CO just recently launched it’s demo program. It’s a demo of the tutorial of CO and it’s pretty restricted. From my understanding it’s capped at level 15, and you can only access the tutorial, which doesn’t include a powerhouse so you can’t get new powers aside from the 2 you start off with.

    They also have a referal program, which removes the tutorial only access and gives you 10 days unlimited access to the game, up to level 15. With various other freedoms.

    If you wish to try the game, let someone in CO know. They can definitely help you out.

  42. MidnightDStroyer says:

    From the author, up above: “Yeah. Ya gotta love escort missions.”

    IKR?
    (sarcasm)From my own personal experience, and that of everybody I know of who plays any kind of game genre that has escort missions, everybody & their brothers & sisters & cousins absolutely love them.(/sarcasm)

    Even in Doom 3 single-player game, there’s an escort mission that’s actually scripted to fail…even if you kill everything that approaches long before they can get close to the escort-subject, he still dies. I know because I’ve played through that section a lot of times before I could manage to make sure that the final ambush sequence was thwarted…and the guy still died right on the spot when there were no critters left to kill him.

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