Let's Play Champions Online Pt. 10Previous Post
Let's Play Champions Online Pt. 12
I return to Socrates for my next assignment.
Socrates has a job for me all right. He explains…
This one is a little perplexing and I have to go over it with Socrates just to make absolutely sure that the crazy person in this conversation isn’t me.
Okay, so let me get this straight: Foxbat stole the comics, in order to remove them from circulation.
Okay. Then Foxbat – and maybe I heard you wrong here – but it sounded like you said Foxbat left them on the ground? Right outside the comic-book shop?
Again, your recollection matches the events as they are recorded in my database.
But Foxbat didn’t, like, keep them or burn them or leave nasty creases in all the covers?
To my knowledge, all of the back issues are intact.
So how about the shop owner walks outside, picks up the books, and puts them back on the shelf? This doesn’t sound like a superhero-level problem. I mean… the car fires and the prison break… There are other problems in the city, is all I’m saying. This isn’t even a heist. This is just… littering.
Foxbat has left his battlebots behind at the scene of the crime.
Waitwaitwaitwait. So you’re telling me that there are killer robots loose in this public place with civilians around, and you’re sending me to save the comic books?
Please return to me once the comics are safe.
Are you sure you’re working right? Is there a tech support number I can call?
Also, Foxbat has kidnapped comic book writer Steve Short and artist Deano Deschesne in order to force them to make comic books about him.
Oh? So he took them back to his hideout or…?
No, they're still in the parking lot with the comic books.
So it’s probably more accurate to say that he’s considering kidnapping them.
Good luck Star on Chest.
A short flight later I arrive at the comic book store.
|Background: We’re here to stop this place from going out of business. Looks like we might be about a decade late. Right: A man is fleeing from the battlebots. But screw him, we’re here to save the funny books.|
Great. I’ve arrived just in time to rescue comic books from being slightly misplaced by evil robots so that the illiterate comic store in the condemned building can continue to serve the slums of Millennium City. At least until the robots kill everyone.
The forces of Foxbat consist of foam-fingered fanboys and robotic stage equipment.
|Look, I’M NOT MAKING THIS UP, OKAY? Sheesh. Why can’t you ever just trust me?|
And by “robotic stage equipment” I mean “robots with cameras and microphones for heads”.
The fanboys are more dangerous than you’d expect for scrawny guys that hit you with big foam fingers, which ought to pose the same threat as a caged houseplant.
I scuffle with the robots and the fanboys. Eventually I get a little spot cleared off. After making sure nobody is looking, I rescue a box of comics. One box of ten.
Ten? Are there even ten boxes in the parking lot?
And if your team meets another team doing the same mission… Well, I hope you went with the lifetime subscription plan, because you’re going to be in the parking lot for a long, long time.
I rescue the writer and artist, and gather up a big ol’ stack of back comic books for the comic store. Now they won’t go out of business because they’re out of stock, and will be free to go out of business because of any of the other dozen or so things that are wrong with the place. So the city has that going for it now.
Other games seem to have this inverted, and quests are just a way of organizing combat and directing you to level-appropriate foes. In the other MMO’s I’ve played, combat seems to form a significant portion of your overall XP, perhaps even a majority. In Lord of the Rings Online, it seems like about 100 foes will advance you to the next level at this same point in the game. (A level sixteen character.) I suspect World of Warcraft isn’t too different.
What’s strange about this setup is that the combat in Champions Online is a blast. This is one game where I wouldn’t mind grinding (fighting the same guys in the same area over and over) in order to to level. It’s fun sweeping the streets, but the reward for doing so is so very tiny.
I’m not sure why combat was so de-emphasized here. It’s not a horrible decision, and there aren’t any cases where you must grind (at least until level 30, which is as far as I’ve gone) to progress, it’s just odd.
Actually, I guess the oddness goes both ways: Other games have far better stories but more boring combat, and you’re forced to do a lot more combat. Champions has fantastic combat but the writing is infantile, but you’re forced to do the missions if you want to get anywhere.
In both cases we have games that give you a strong incentive to do the least interesting stuff.
Having said that, it really is hard for me to enjoy standard MMO combat after playing Champions Online.
Let’s head back to Socrates and see what the bats in his boot-drive want me to do next.
|Yeah… a flame “retardent” costume.|
Now we’re getting somewhere! Let’s face off against this guy at long last and punish him for all the really trivial bullshit he’s nearly inflicted on the city.
A few minutes later I arrive at WCOC studios. It’s just on the other side of the toppled building and fifty burning cars.
Fine. We’re at the station. Now… how do I get in? The main entrance? No. The other main entrance? Not that either. Not the garage doors in back. Not the roof. Not the side door.
After wandering around outside, peering in windows and jiggling doorknobs, I manage to find one that’s open. Good thing Foxbat didn’t lock this door, because I’m way too polite to bust it down in the process of saving a TV station from… whatever it is that’s happening here. I step inside the disused rusty fire door and…
… find myself on the other side of a slick modern glass door in a swank lobby. Ubuhwhat? Did I do that wrong?
Hello? Anyone home? I knocked and it was open so…
Suddenly we cut to the studio to see…
The newscast Foxbat is interrupting is a rip-off of Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. Every character in the news studio (aside from the bad guys) is a slightly altered version of a character from the cast of Anchorman. But that’s as far as it goes. The game doesn’t go on to do any jokes, satirize the movie, or say anything interesting.
Like all of the “humor” surrounding Foxbat, the game tries to remind you of things that you may have found funny elsewhere without telling any jokes of its own. Winking at the audience and paying homage is something you do while telling jokes, not instead of.
Foxbat! That maker of mild mischief! He’ll never get away with trespassing on studio property and interrupting a news broadcast. Actually, I guess he already got away with that. Well, I came all the way to the studio. Might as well beat him up while I’m here.
|Foxbot fanboys throw these yellow triangles at you if you’re overhead or at a distance. I always thought that the triangles were those folded paper footballs, but now that I’ve gotten a close look at them in a still shot I have to say they’re very clearly I don’t know what the hell.|
So here he is. The dumbass himself. Although, for all his ranting about wanting to be on TV he hasn’t bothered to step in FRONT of the cameras yet.
That is unless “is silly” is a self-contained joke in your view. Here is how the fight goes…
Foxbat opens the fight with a gun that blows a bubble. It looks kind of like bubble gum.
Whoops. It IS bubble gum. And when it pops, I’m trapped in gum.
And then a huge weight falls out of hammerspace and zonks me on my exceptionally heroic and handsome head.
And once I get out of that he hits me with a stink cloud.
Finally I am angry. Okay Foxbat. Prepare to face my ULTIMATE WEAPON!
…which is also my regular weapon. Which is just hitting people.
Hey, sue me. It may not be the most creative solution, but it works, okay?
Suddenly I feel an intense sensation of shame. I feel like the bully who just got caught picking on a little girl. Like the guy caught taunting the “retarded kid”.
Rob Mahogany wants to congratulate me on a job well done. Everyone is so happy that I saved them. Saved them from this Wile E. Coyote style villain. And what does that make me, I ask you. WHAT DOES THAT MAKE ME?!?!
I run out of the studio hiding my face in my hands, screaming “Leave me alone! Just leave me alone!”
A while later I’m up on the roof of a building having one of those “inner turmoil” moments. It always seems so cool when Batman or Spider-Man do it. Then again, Batman is usually obsessing over his dead parents and Spider-Man is in anguish because he’s worried about his aunt. I’m upset because I was just in a battle that would have made the Three Stooges look like the Fight Club.
I really think this place is starting to get to me.
NEXT TIME: Will our hero quit in shame?
Well… WILL HE?!?!
Let's Play Champions Online Pt. 10Previous Post
Let's Play Champions Online Pt. 12
Silent Hill Turbo HD II
I was trying to make fun of how Silent Hill had lost its way but I ended up making fun of fighting games. Whatever.
What did web browsers look like 20 years ago, and what kind of crazy features did they have?
In Defense of Crunch
Crunch-mode game development isn't good, but sometimes it happens for good reasons.
The Opportunity Crunch
No, brutal, soul-sucking, marriage-destroying crunch mode in game development isn't a privilege or an opportunity. It's idiocy.
A programming project where I set out to make a gigantic and complex world from simple data.