Today, I’m going to focus on some of the electronic/video games that caught my eye at GenCon. I normally don’t spend a ton of time in the video game section, because my life doesn’t leave a lot of time anymore for video games, but once upon a time I was an avid online gamer, and it is always fun to dip my toes into that genre of games now and again.
One of the games I played back in the day was City of Heroes, the MMORPG superhero game created by Cryptic Studios and NCsoft. (In fact, one of my first paying writing gigs was a review of City of Heroes for City Slab magazine.) I haven’t played City of Heroes in over four years, but apparently the partnership between Cryptic and SOE has fallen apart, with NCsoft retaining ownership of the City of Heroes intellectual property. Cryptic Studios, in turn, teamed up with Atari and Hero Games to create Champions Online, taking everything they learned from the original creation of City of Heroes and improving upon it. The graphics are slick and the game play looks pretty smooth. Visually, of course, it looks like a comic book world, and the overall appearance is much like City of Heroes, but the stats system is built upon the Champions RPG structure and it uses the Champions setting. It’ll be interesting to see how this superhero MMORPG competes with the established City of Heroes.
While that was the only MMORPG that really caught my eye, there was another online game of interest – Hero Mages. This is a free (yes, you read that correctly!) online board/strategy game, which can be played by up to four players against each other. Each player controls a magic-user (chosen from fighter mage, wizard, sorcerer, and summoner) and two guardians (chosen from bard, rogue, barbarian, paladin, psionist, soul reaver, warrior, and samurai). The goal is to destroy the enemy teams before your own team is killed. It’s a fun game and free, so check it out.
Two other stand alone games warrant mention. If bloody console-based game mayhem is your thing, then check out Dante’s Inferno from Electronic Arts. The game follows Dante as he battles his way through Hell to rescue his fair love, Beatrice, who is being held captive by Lucifer. I’m not much on these slash-em-up games even in the best of times, but if there were ever a game that made me want to pick up a gaming console and rip through some demons, this was it. The graphics were phenomenal, and the players seemed to be hypnotized by the screen.
On the other end of the spectrum, and much more my speed, was the quirky stand alone PC game Odd Society. You play one of the ODDs, a race of creatures that have recently gained freedom from The Conglomerate, to whom they were enslaved. Now they are forced to find resources and build a society for themselves. The mechanics are mostly simple point-and-click, so it’s pretty easy to get into the game quickly. The graphics on this game aren’t nearly as slick as Dante’s Inferno, but that’s part of the point … unlike the Inferno hellbeasts, the ODDs are unusual little beings that are supposed to be endearing and sort of roughly rendered, like Dr. Seuss characters.