reviewed on PC
But the minor upgrades aside, the graphics and art design have remained relatively unchanged from City of Heroes. The artwork is more on the cartoony side but it helps to capture traditional comic book feel. The overall visual experience of the game is pleasant. It will not satisfy those who must absolutely have a photorealistic game, but the art design is tried and true. As a result, it is also much easier to play on a modest machine. The one major addition to City of Villains is the rag doll engine used for the random spawned NPC or MOB. Whenever your foe is knocked off his feet, he will be flying in style with arms and legs flailing in every direction. This often results in your foe ending up hanging off of signs, hanging over fences, or just laying there in a bone bending position that will often make you cringe. Overall it is a great addition and adds a much needed dose of flair to combat.
The system requirements are very easy to meet and the recommended requirements do not call for a cutting edge machine. This makes it a very good option for the villain in any casual PC gamer. On some occasions you may experience a sudden drop in frame rate. This maybe caused by a large concentration of players, special effects or you may be overlooking a large rendering area. This can be relieved by adjusting the density of particles, water effects and detail levels which are all available for customization.
Sounds are just as big part of a gaming experience as the visuals. If the sounds do not match what is happening in front of you, much of the experience will be lost due to lack of ambiance or immersion into your environment.
In CoV, most small details have their own sound effects ranging from changing footsteps from concrete to metal as you change environment, to surf crashing on the wharf and breaking waves on the rocks. Most of the sounds are very subtle and will be overlooked during hectic gameplay, but it's the subtle sounds that help make the environment more immersive and more enjoyable to spend time in. Its better to have sounds that you never notice than it is to have no noticeable sounds at all.
Music in City of Villains is regrettably sparse and one of the biggest flaws I truly wished had been corrected from the original. As you enter a new area, an introduction track will play to help develop a feel for where you are, but these tracks tend to be only a few seconds long, although they are often enjoyable enough that you wouldn't mind having them loop as an ambient music for the area.
City of Villains does a good job at meeting sound quality expectations but sadly falls short of being impressive. Without a recurring musical score and no voiceovers at all, it counters the immersive effects of the other sound features by pulling you out of the action to stop and read a mission summary or hearing nothing but a random gun shot or two while running down the street until you reach a new area where the introduction track will play for a few seconds.
Being of the MMORPG genre, the replay value is very high. Considering the insane number of class and power set combinations that you can play, it is very easy to be entertained for a good while. If anything will cause a loss of interest in the game, it will likely be the 'Grind'. The Grind gets to everyone at some point. It is the massive black cloud that hangs over all MMORPG titles. Games of this nature can , and usually do become repetitive for many at some point. City of Villains does not have that bad of an issue with the Grind, however. The continuation of missions and changing zones help keep the game environment fresh. However, there are issues. The mission maps are randomly generated, but only up to a point. It is likely that, after a while, you will start to recognize the map layout of your mission, at which point you will realize how many times you have run that map on previous missions. Another problem is during the early stages of the game: you have very few choices of contacts to receive missions from. This means that until you cross a certain level threshold, you will run the same missions every time you start a new character. This can be very frustrating, especially for someone like me who enjoys trying several new character concepts one after the other. Despite these red marks, the overall reply value of City of Villains will be more than enough to offer the player a lengthy gaming experience.
In closing, City of Villains is solid as a stand alone title or as a City of Heroes expansion. Despite its weak points or flaws, the title has restored life to City of Heroes and has already caused scores of players, new and old, to repopulate the game servers, reuniting old alliances and challenging new rivals. If you are a veteran MMO player looking for something enjoyable but laid back to play or new to MMOs and looking to get into it for the first time, City of Villains will deliver countless hours of entertainment and player interaction. There is no doubt at all that City of Villains will follow the City of Heroes tradition of success and remain as a big player in the MMO genre.
No Pros and Cons at this time