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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this superheros game is a massively multiplayer online role playing game set in a wide open world that allows for full chat interaction. The game itself must be bought, and then there is also a monthly subscription fee, as well as some items such as vanity pets that can be purchased for real money. No parental controls are available, and as a superhero, the player will be expected to eradicate evil by violent means.
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What's it about?
CHAMPIONS ONLINE is based on the pen & paper roleplaying game of the same name. Billed as an action-oriented online combat game, Players create and customize superheroes and their costumes, select a framework of powers from an options menu, and go out into the wild, wooly world of earth as it is imagined in a comic book to seek quests and carry them out by defeating super villians, criminals, crime and drug lords, and assisting law enforcement officials. In other words, players get to live the life of a comic book superhero. There are several story arcs that gamers will play through and several super-villains they will defeat with in-world friends. Along the way, side quests are plentiful and varied, from infiltrating enemy headquarters to retrieving stolen plans to delivering a serum to save a dignitary’s life while avoiding enemies sent to stop you. Crafting is part of the game and players can acquire blueprints and gather materials to create weapons and equipment. A unique aspect of the game is the Nemesis system. When players create a hero, they are also creating it a Nemesis. At an appropriate level (around 20 and dependent on the character’s development and achievements), players will be asked to look through a database of criminals at Millenium City. What this does is to provide you the ability to customize your Nemesis’ looks, name, and powers. From then on, he/she will appear in quests and show up at opportune or inopportune times to hinder you.
Is it any good?
Designed by the same game studio – Cryptic Studios - that created City of Heroes (CoH), Champions Online is their “not quite City of Heroes 2,” where the studio has been able to do the things they wished they had been able to do with CoH. Character and costume customization is top notch. The comic-book graphic style can be turned off in options if you don’t like the heavy black outlines around characters.
The game is fast-paced and controls are simple and intuitive. Planned for Xbox360 as well as PC, players can play the game with their Xbox360 controller if they wish. Helping players to succeed are built-in “boosts” that players run or “roll over” to pick up, such as an energy / health / defense boost or perhaps a fiery shield for a short period of time. Players also gain skills quickly, such as the ability to fly at level 5. Basically, something new is achieved every few levels or so to keep the player interested. There is no re-specialization of powers in the game if players decide further on that they dislike their choices, but Cryptic has said a few times that there are no “gimp” builds, that all specializations and powers are equally viable in the game.
Online interaction: With a T rating, this game is really designed for older teens and adults. Open Chat and open forums -- albeit with moderation -- allow full online interaction although there are friends as well as ignore lists that players can use.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about online Social Behavior and boundaries. Why should you not give out personal information online? Does a character's behavior impact the way you think about the person controlling that character. Do you think what you do in game reflects upon you as a person?
Families can discuss what fantasy is. What are superheroes or meta-humans?
Families can also talk about in-game Consumerism. Why do you want to have vanity pets or flashy outfits for your avatar?