In this age of superhero films and cartoons, one may think that massive multiplayer experiences based on said genre would be commonplace. At current, there are only 2 large American superhero MMORPGs running: Champions Online and DC Universe Online. These games definitely have their moments, but fail to compare to the godfather of all massively multiplayer superhero games. I’m talking about City of Heroes, one of the finest damn PC games ever made.
It’s a superhero game that really let you get into the role of your character. You could have a secret identity, a sidekick, join a superhero team, or even become a villain. City of Heroes was one of the few superhero games to truly capture the feeling of what it means to be a hero. The world was vast, character customization was near perfection, and the game allowed for a truly engaging experience.
Look back at the game now, it truly was a head of its time. Few other MMOs could match it in terms of both customization and world-building. Not only that, but the developers over at NCSoft kept churning out all kinds of new additions to the game. After a while, the game became incredibly meaty. It went from being a delicious gourmet burger, to a luxurious and well-done sirloin steak.
Each new update came and went, and the developers never mucked around with what worked. Unlike a lot of other MMOs, City of Heroes remained as close to its roots as it could possibly get. It added new concepts, ideas, and things to do, but kept on being the same game it always was. One may say that the game was near perfection in a way, doing just a enough new stuff to be fresh, while keeping what people loved about it in the first place.
The comic book was no slouch either. I remember collecting every issue of the Top Cow comic they based on the games, and enjoying those insane and somewhat bizarre adventures. Heck, the entire comic series started with EVERYONE LOSING THEIR POWERS, which lead to some rather entertaining scenarios and misadventures. However, all good things much come to an end. After a few years, the comic ended and never received a revival of any sort.
Likewise, the game shut down its servers in 2012, and that dream of being a spandex-wearing superhero died with it. While other superhero MMOs came along in an attempt to fill the void, nothing could replace what was undeniably an amazing experience. Believe me, people tried. Since CoH’s closure, there have been at least 4-5 attempts to do spiritual sequels to the game.
Unfortunately, none of these projects have yielded results yet. Now, I know making an MMO is a difficult undertaking. It’s one of the hardest genres to make a game for, so it will undoubtedly take a long time. The problem is that you have so many projects looking to be the next City of Heroes, while having very little to show for their efforts. I hear some are in closed betas right now, but it just sucks that I haven’t been able to play a single one.
Again, game development is hard and I’m not trying to deny that it is an undertaking. However, how can 4-5 different teams make their own iteration of the same game, yet not actually produce a working demo for people to try? The problem here is that by the time these projects come out, people will have moved on from City of Heroes altogether. Heck, most already have! After all, it’s been five years since the game was shut down.
Nowadays, nobody is asking for the return of City of Heroes, so having so many projects based on it is rather cumbersome. I’m not trying to disrespect these guys, I commend all these teams coming together to create their own versions of a beloved series. However, I guess I’m just afraid that these projects will end up flopping, or just never materialize.
After all, the MMO market is very fickle right now. Filling it with City of Heroes clones will definitely not help things. Still, despite the fact that most of these projects feel a tad bit unnecessary, I do want to play them. I want to experience that classic City of Heroes feel just one more time. I’m hoping these projects will let me do that, let me just delve into those superhero worlds and enjoy a grand experience. It’s been 10 years since I journeyed around the streets of Paragon City, and it’s a feeling that I can never truly forget.