All that is wrong with the world…

January 27, 2011

Thoughts on Män som hatar kvinnor

I started writing this just before I left Montreal….than traveling, parties, work and laziness all got in the way. Nevertheless, I have finally finished it during a blizzard in NYC. I watched Män som hatar kvinnor on my long train journey across Canada which I had been meaning to watch for a while. Män som hatar kvinnor is the Swedish adaption of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I was mainly curious how the movie would translate to the screen, as it already seemed to be perfect for adapting. I was mostly taken back by the changes made from the book which I don’t think work.

The first thing I noticed that there is no conversation between Henrik Vanger and the detective as there is at the start of the book, something I felt set the tone for the rest of the story. After this I noticed that several key characters were omitted altogether. Lisbeth’s boss Dragan Armansky is not featured as a character at all, which I thought was a shame as it was his interactions with her that helped to flesh out the character. Erika Berger is not developed as a character at all, only appearing at the start and end of the movie for the Millenium magazine subplot.

I thought this was a shame as I found Erika’s and Mikael’s relationship to be one of the more interesting points of the book and it would have helped to flesh out Mikaels character on screen. There are also next to no interactions with the rest of the family, for example Isabella is nowhere to be seen and Martin only really appears at the end so it isn’t much of a shock. Despite reading the book in July, I could not remember if motivation for killing was related to the Nazi aspect of the characters, as from what I remembered it was not. I’m unclear at the moment but I wonder if Lisbeth let Martin die in the books, as it seemed somewhat out of place for her character to do so in the movie. It can be put down to just another way the character differs due to not being developed enough in the movie.

The entire Wennerström subplot is basically absent, there is nothing about the bribe or investigation and hence no motivation for Mikael to take the case, although he does which makes him quite a different character from in the books. The entire subplot of Lisbeth going to London is also subsequently absent with just a brief clip of her at the end in disguise, which is somewhat meaningless unless you had read the book first. It also makes Wennerströms suicide have next to no impact.

The silly hacking from the book carries over to the film but not to the same extent and is actually more believable. The ubiquitous internet was a bit silly although I guess they could have had a satellite phone secretly connected to the laptop while driving the deserted Swedish highways. One thing I didn’t like was that Lisbeth made herself known to Mikael rather than him investigating and finding her, which was a brilliant way for the two characters two meet and gave a lot more perspective into Mikael as a person.

As for the acting….both the leads give fine performances, with Noomy Rapace giving a particulary strong performance. The actress isn’t as physically frail looking as I imagined Lisbeth to be, but manages to pull of a sense of frailty by being on the defensive all the time. I imagined Lisbeth as appearing more apathetic and defensive in her behaviors rather than outward emotions, but I think this movie interpretation also works quite well. I also think the actor cast as the guardian, Peter Andersson, was perfectly cast and perfectly sinister.

All in all I don’t think the film was that good, and I don’t think it can stand on its own legs for viewing without reading the book first. I am more interested to see the Hollywood adaptation which I believe will be better due to David Fincher being a great director and the actors being better actors in general. The promo shots of Rooney Mara as Lisbeth match a lot more closely to how she was described in the book and I think Daniel Craig is perfect casting for the role of Mikael. I do only hope the Hollywood version does not cut so much important stuff out of the adaptation, or at least manages to find a way to preserve the character exposition. What I find annoying is that the Hollywood version may well turn out to be superior, but everyone is going to lampoon it in favor of the Swedish version due to a desire to be seen as cultured.

Only time will tell which movie will be better, but here’s hoping for a more faithful adaptation of the book that can keep me entertained and curious just as the original book did.

January 26, 2011

Slashdot continues to go downhill

Filed under: Tech — Tags: , — allthatiswrong @ 7:40 pm

Late last night Slashdot introduced the 3rd version of it’s site since inception, without any warning or formal announcement. What a travesty. It looks OK, except for that fact that there is waaaaay too much whitespace and an unnecessary sidebar that apparently cannot be disabled. The previous D2 discussion system was appalling and it was the only site I was aware of that could consistently lock up any of the major browsers on a modern computer. Despite being a tech site, it has some of the most inefficient code possible. I am using Firefox 4 Beta 9, although many people are reporting the new site completely locks up older browsers.

One of the biggest problems I had with the D2 system was that there was no way to have all comments expanded, or even to load all comments with all below a certain threshold abbreviated. Instead, I had to manually click get more comments several times dependant on the total amount of comments. I liked the D2 system because of the dynamic reply functionality and the ability to expand abbreviated comments on the fly. The old D1 system needs to load each abbreviated comment as a new page, which is frustrating. By trying to be modern and be all Web 2.0 Slashdot has failed horribly, and managed to be among the most unusable sites on the web.

It seems that has not changed with the newest version of Slashdot (D3?), although it is hard to tell without any kind of changelog. At least so far I haven’t had my browser pause when I have several stories open with over 1000 comments fully expanded. Why is it so much trouble to have dynamic replies, options for how many comments to load and the simply JavaScript code it takes to manage that? Why is what is supposed to be a leading tech site so very, very far behind the curve?
The noticeable changes they have added seem to be an option to include information from your WoW account in your profile and the ability to associate your account with an OpenID. The OpenID integration is mighty nice, but the WoW integration has to be among the most useless ‘enhancements’ ever. With over 100 errors in the W3C validation and people reporting many bugs for years not to mention the asinine lack of support for international character sets, they spend time developing WoW integration.

Aside from the very obvious technical incompetence on display, the editing has always been criticized and shows no signs of improvement. The constant misspellings and appalling use of language are simply not acceptable for one of the most visited technology sites on the web. Not to mention the dupes, with a story commonly being submitted a second or third time and being published without anything new being added. Additionally they often omit interesting tech stories altogether while making sure to publish a story that might involve someone’s civil liberties possibly being trampled, despite the lack of facts or verifications.

There is also the problem with the constant spam such as with idiots like APK or the Michael Kristopeit idiots. I’ve heard of actual accounts being banned without any recourse, yet the spammers and trolls go free reign. It’s one thing if Slashdot is to be a self-moderated community but quite another if they decide to interfere only for users they don’t like, rather than taking action to rid the community of spam and such.

I don’t know if I will keep using Slashdot, as I already made a commitment to spend less time on the site. I have been on the site since 1997 or so, and have learned an awful lot over the years and even at present the community has some extremely knowledge people that I have had a great many interesting discussions with. The way things are going however I may have to find a replacement tech/science/politics site that isn’t full of idiots like at Digg or Reddit while having a pleasant interface for discussing interesting stories. Ideally Slashdot will get their act together and allow the level of configuration needed, otherwise….suggestions?

January 14, 2011

Opera did not invent browser tabs

Filed under: Tech — Tags: , , , , — allthatiswrong @ 8:49 am

It is a common myth, largely spread by Opera fanbois that Opera invented tabbed browsing. This is very simply, wrong. The first browser that can be said to have tabbed browsing was an Internet Explorer shell called NetCaptor, first released in 1997.

Out of the main browsers it is actually Firefox that can be credited with being the browser to mainstream tabbed browsing. Phoenix (what would later become Firefox) introduced tabbed browsing in September 2002.

Some people consider Opera to have been the first main browser to introduce tabbed browsing because of the inclusion of a Multiple Document Interface. This is incorrect and the difference is not trivial. An MDI is the interface Word 97 had for example. It allows many windows in one, but is not the same as a Tabbed Document Interface. A TDI allows for repositioning tabs on a tab bar, dragging and dropping between windows, open in new tab, easy switching between tabs without having to minimize etc. Fanbois will often cite Opera’s own version history as proof that they were the first browser to include tabbed browsing, however just because opera considered an MDI to be a TDI does not make it so.

When Phoenix 0.1 was introduced it had tabbed browsing support and if you use it today it will still feel quite familiar. Opera on the other hand still only had an MDI at version 6.10>, which was released October 31st, 2002. Opera did not get proper tab support until version 7 which was released January 28th, 2003 although the beta which included the same tab support was released November 13th 2002.

I hope that I have helped to clear this up and denounce this ridiculous myth. Anyone is welcome to see for themselves and download the older versions of browsers and they themselves can confirm that it wasn’t until version 7 that Opera can said to have gotten proper tab support.

Thoughts on Frozen

Filed under: Entertainment — Tags: , , , , , — allthatiswrong @ 8:37 am

During my 4 day train journey I managed to watch many films. I had planned on doing a lot of writing but the vibrations of the train made that harder than it should be. I remember hearing about Frozen at the beginning of 2010, where it was getting a lot of fuss for being independent and that it should be supported for this reason, even if it was not that great of a film.

Well, it isn’t that great of a film. The characters make many stupid decisions that are hard to believe, and then the major threat in the film is wolves, and not so much the fact that they are trapped. The way they get trapped while extremely unlikely is believable enough, or at least it’s possible to suspend disbelief at this point. Once they are up there though…

First of all, apparently no one has a cell phone. I’ve never been to a ski resort so have no idea about signal strength, but assuming cell phones work at the resort I don’t see why they would fail on the ski lift. Even so, that isn’t even a problem with the movie. After an hour or so and they realize they are trapped, one of the characters gets the idea to jump down. Despite wolves having been circling under them for a while. Of course, he breaks his legs, and then gets eaten by wolves.

I don’t know enough about wolves, but it seems unlikely that they would wander into a ski resort area packed by humans. I also wonder how likely it is that they would devour a human. The thing I really don’t get is the jumping. Surely if they just huddled together for the night, putting their jackets over their heads or something, they would be found eventually. People would notice they were missing and search for them, or someone would find them during the day, even with it being closed for the weekend.

Even if that wasn’t a possibility, why would jumping from a hundred feet or so be a good idea? Surely they would have tried shimmying across the cable to the pole which has a ladder first? Of course one of the characters does try this, but only after the first jumps, has his legs broken with bone protruding through skin and his face eaten by wolves. It doesn’t make much of a difference however; as once he gets down he also gets eaten by wolves.

The movie relies on the wolves as the main threat in the movie to the point where the ski lift is just a catalyst, and the movie should have been called Wolves. It isn’t terribly believable as it is one unlikely and unlucky coincidence one after the other that makes it hard to suspend disbelief and thus care about the characters. I like horror films or thrillers, and I support independent film makers, but it seems like this film could have been so much more if it had just tried. When the filmmakers don’t even bother to check if there are wolves in New England, then it becomes much harder to support them and just because they are independent is not reason enough.

January 13, 2011

Thoughts on Back to the Future The Game – Episode 1

So a few days before Christmas I was browsing IRFree as I sometimes do to see what has been released, when I saw Back to the Future: The Game Episode 1 was available. What was this? Given that it was only some 350mb or so, I thought it must be a rerelease of an older game or something. Nope, it was apparently a brand new game with a new story set over 5 episodes, with input from Bob Gale and Christopher Lloyd voicing Doc again.

My beloved trilogy had returned! I was always kind of put off that the trilogy ended with the DeLorean being destroyed and Doc going on to having further adventures with his new family. It was actually a pretty nice ending as far as endings go, but I always felt there were so many more stories that could be told, so that it should not have ended. Unlike most trilogies the BTTF universe is quite rich, and there was still plenty that could be done with it. The first thing that became apparent from playing this game is that it is not Back t the Future IV, but a game set in that universe.

I think the developers do a good job of making a story set in that universe after the films, although some things are not adequately explained. The presence of the DeLorean is somewhat glossed over, as the lightning storm at the end of the second apparently resulted in a duplicate machine. The time train is not mentioned at all. The DeLorean is programmed to go back to Doc’s warehouse if he gets in trouble, allowing Marty to go and save him, and thus start the storyline.

The story is pretty simple being set in Hill Valley in the 1930’s, with the Biff of that era being a mobster and we get to interact with a young Doc Brown, which is nice. The voice acting is top notch, with Christopher Lloyd reprising his role and the voice actor for Marty capturing his voice perfectly. The visual likeness suits the game, but is also limited by it appearing far more cartoony than I would have liked.

I like the start of the story, which has Marty’s father overseeing the auction of Doc’s possessions as they are considered abandoned, and Marty dealing with the absence of his friend. I was not expecting this to be an adventure game when I played it, so was somewhat put off by the puzzles wanting much more of an emphasis on story, however the game cannot be faulted for that. Early on we meet Strickland’s sister which I thought was an interesting character addition. Why not use Strickland himself? I also thought it odd that if you were going to use a Strickland character not to have them say all.

After we go back in time we have to choose a pseudonym, and the choices are all based on gangsta movies from that period. This seemed a weird choice for me, as the BTTF series appeals to children and adults equally and it is unlikely children will have seen The Godfather or Dirty Harry. Although of the top of my head I don’t know what would be better for alternatives. It doesn’t really matter, as the game seems to have a bug that the game assumes you had chosen Michael Corleone as your selection.

Young Doc Brown is done well and is perfect for a continuation of the story. One thing I thought was odd was that 30’s doc refers to Marty as Einstein as a synonym for Genius, although I don’t think Einstein was so established at that time. I like the idea of Marty’s grandfather having Crispin Glovers likeness, although I wonder if this contradicts with the male McFly’s earliest ancestors in Hill Valley having Marty’s likeness. One thing I noticed about Marty in the game so far is that whenever he is talking he always seems nervous, while I always felt Marty from the films was confident. Indeed, that was a major point in the first film, so for them to characterize him as nervous seems strange.

There are a few bugs in the interface and gameplay mechanics however. In addition to Michael Corleone being hardwired as a pseudonym above, it can be awkward to move around as the movement keys do not adapt to changing camera angles. Sometimes I might have to walk left to go up, which is easy enough but still awkward. I thought the animation was somewhat odd at first however I got used to it. For some reason it was not obvious and did not occur to me that I could change the resolution and quality, and after making the game match my widescreen it was a lot nicer to look at.

I did not see any way to save the game obviously, and am unsure if the game automatically saves or has a checkpoint system. Save games are mentioned, so it must be possible somehow, although it would be nice if it was more intuitive. I also found the cursor quite annoying, being in the shape of a flux capacitor is a nice gimmick although makes it more difficult to be accurate than it should be.

After playing DCUO for a while the loading screens for BTTF Episode 1 seemed quite bland, and it would have been quite nice if there was some nice art of the DeLorean and characters akin to the various movie posters. I didn’t play the game all at once, alt+tabbing to it at various stages however I think the game length is probably between 2 or 3 hours. The game is still a lot of fun, and for $25 I think it is worth the price and to support the developer. One thing I do hope is that in some of the other episodes we get to go to a different era in the future, as I’ve had enough of the past. Of course, this is just the beginning and there are still four episodes to go, and things are definitely off to a good start.

January 11, 2011

Thoughts on the DC Universe Online Beta

Filed under: Entertainment — Tags: , , , , , — allthatiswrong @ 9:41 pm

After arriving in Toronto on the 11th of December after a 4 day train journey, I was happy to find out that I had been selected as a beta tester for DCU. I had been interested in this game since seeing the amazing opening cinematic, but upon seeing the price set at $60 for the game and $15 per month, I realized it was sadly out of my nomadic budget. So it was a very nice surprised that I was able to play it for almost a month for free. This game has been in development for almost two years and now as of the 11th of January has finally been released.

DCUO is the first MMORPG I have played, so some of my criticisms of the game are quite possibly things that apply to MMORPG’s in general and so should not be detract from the game itself. I should also note that some of my criticisms are based on the game being different from what I imagined it would be, so these too should not be taken as negative points against the game. I managed to play one character up to level 20 over the course of a month, so I think I got a pretty good feel for the game.

The opening cinematic is truly amazing and I would gladly watch an entire film of that quality, as would many people going by comments on the Youtube video. The video sets up the premise of the game, in which Lex Luthor travels back in time to release Exobytes, something akin to nanites which grant the ordinary populace superpowers to help prevent Brainiac’s invasion of the earth. The premise is simple enough and serves as a good justification for why there can be any number of super-powered humans running around.

The world of DCUO seems to be mostly based on the various animated series, which I think is somewhat of a shame. I like watching those series and they have a special place in my heart, but I have always preferred the more realistic takes on the characters and this is the direction the movies have taken of late. I would hope to see a few some gritty missions and hope it isn’t all in the spirit of the cartoons. On the other hand it would make sense if it were as there will probably be a lot of kids playing the game.

One of the more cartoonish things is Brainiac’s motivation for invading the earth is an attempt to digitize everyone and everything, essentially a similar idea to what the laser does to Flynn in Tron. Why not just have Braniac destroy stuff after understanding it, as that would make more sense. The digitizing concept has never really made sense. Although I do wonder why the buildings are just encased in Brainiac’s force fields and are never seen slowly disappearing or something similar.

It’s an interesting story but I wonder how long it can be stretched out for. Will the invasion be going on for years? Will any excuse be given for why it is impossible to defeat Brainiac, or will it just be overlooked? Or will Brainiac be defeated and other storylines emerge based on a superpowered population? I do wonder where expansion packs will take the game. Green Lantern is expected to be in the first expansion, which raises the possibility of other cities and perhaps planets? The animated sequences after completing missions deserve a mention, because they are stunning. Beautiful artwork with excellent voice acting. They are somewhat like a motion comic, but a whole lot slicker.

So, about the game. I had thought the game would be more complex than it is and more similar to other RPG games where you have a karma system. In the game the character you make can only be a Hero or a Villain and it is this choice which solely determines the missions you receive. A karma system would make the game a lot more interesting, introducing shades of gray and reputation. I don’t think it would be that much extra work to incorporate such a system and would help to justify the price and ensure longevity.

The character creation is interesting. There is quite a lot to choose from in skills and personality wise (although I have heard it is actually subpar for these types of games) ensuring you should be able to create a sufficiently unique character. The costume aspect was quite annoying, as I did not end up choosing a costume when creating my initial character and was unable to change it later in game, aside from buying various items of clothing. To change my face or size or skin color or anything like that was impossible however.

I also somewhat wished there was a first person mode. For some of the modes of movement or attack methods it would not be too practical, but for players who want to use guns or something it would be a nice option. Besides flying in a first person perspective while raining fire from your eyes would just be cool.

The interface is not perfect and often feels like priority was given to the console versions, with the PC version being a secondary consideration. An example of this is targeting enemies can be cumbersome. You switch enemies with the tab key, but enemies are nor switched in a logical order and it can take longer than it should to target who you want, long enough that you can die when you shouldn’t have. While the targeting system would be perfect for console, for PC they should have used something closer to the Max Payne system.

The HUD is mostly clear enough, although some things were not obvious to me. I originally thought there was no way to see what your level progress until I noticed it was a thin bar at the very bottom of the screen. This is probably the stuff that will be in a tutorial or manual that comes with the game however. I would have preferred if we had the ability to scroll through the powers or abilities though, as at the moment they are bound to number keys, so it isn’t exactly fluid to use and switch between them.

As it stands the movement system works quite well for getting around the map and attacking, although there are some strange design decisions that are apparent. The most noticeable is that flight, superspeed and acrobatics are all basically equal for getting around the map. This doesn’t make sense to me really, as someone who has superspeed as their method of movement should have an advantage over someone who relies on acrobatics or flight, but this is not the case. Instead super speed is basically reduced to being a visual effect, when it should be something closer to bullettime. My characters movement style was Acrobatic, and she could keep up with super speed and flying characters without too much trouble.

The other really annoying thing is that you cannot use your movement method while attacking, or even to escape being shot at. As soon as you are attacked you automatically switch to combat mode, which is annoying. What is the use of flight or superspeed if you can’t fly away or use these powers to your advantage? Bullets should not be able to hit someone running at super speed as easily and those who can fly should be able to if away or attack from a distance, but this is not the case. A single bullet can drop someone in flight mode high above to the ground, which is just annoying. I noticed quite early on that it doesn’t matter if you choose flight or not, as I was able to acquire a rocket powered glide power quite early on, which is close enough for many purposes.

The mentor system is quite interesting, which is basically choosing an established DC character to give you missions, which in part defines the villains you face and the city you are based in. It’s done quite well and is quite immersive. The only thing I found strange about it is that the Joker is a mentor for villain characters. The Joker is so insane that it seems out of character for him to be in a mentor role, but it’s a simple thing to overlook. It’s probably a simple thing, but I like that it is possible to have multiple characters. For some reason I thought you would be limited to just one. Having multiple characters allows you to explore all the different aspects of the game.

One of the things I found strange is that you have a communicator device in the game, but this is mainly used to join various PvP matches. To read email, you have to go to a police station and actually use a computer. Games have often had the ability to read email while on the go, long before it was a possibility. Now that it is common in real life, DCUO decides to have us limited to physical computers to read email for some reason. Despite having a communicator.

Apparently Brainiac’s attempt to digitize the world and everything in it works both ways, as it is quite common to receive physical attachments such as an item of clothing or money via email. I do wish that the emails were descriptive, as sometimes I would get an alert from Hawkman or something explaining how to activate an item, but if missed there was no way to know what to do. For example, you get an item via email quite early on that lets you play as Batman in Legends:PVP, but I missed this and it was not at all obvious.

The cities are quite beautifully done although limited to just Gotham and Metropolis at the moment. You really get a sense that an entire city is represented that you can fly through and explore. Although one of the strangest things is that Gotham seems to be in perpetual night while Metropolis is in perpetual day. I get that Gotham and Metropolis are meant to be the gritty and optimistic versions of New York respectively; this doesn’t mean they can never experience a day rotation. It’s a minor thing but I notice it when teleporting from Gotham to Metropolis and back which is instantaneous, yet apparently we go from night to day. The Watchtower headquarters is also very nicely done, being a huge structure that I got lost in more than once, with some very nice visuals of Earth and the iconic heroes in the Hall of Justice. One thing I did notice is that you can destroy much in the Watchtower or police stations without repercussion and it will just respawn. It would be nice if causing havoc like that would attract some kind of attention rather than go ignored.

The chat system in the game is interesting. No one really seemed to be talking that much during the game, but that could just be because it was the beta. I know I tried asking for help a few times and it took ages before I could find a kind soul to answer my questions. One thing I found annoying is that if people are actively chatting it makes it hard to scroll up and read previous messages, as every new messages refreshes to the latest message. It would also be nice if you could chat while knocked out so someone could come and revive you, instead of having to start over from far away.

The profanity filter is quite interesting and flawed, it blocks phrases such as “eight items” because it sees the word tit. Even words as mundane as damn are filtered out. They really need to fix this before the launch, because at the moment it gets in the way of decent communication far too often.

The missions are quite interesting with some basic storylines. Some villain has taken control of somewhere or something and so you have to stop them, because your mentor is too busy. The main thing I found with this is that the missions soon became repetitive, as they all rely on either killing minor enemies, saving people or carrying containers across a map. Again I think having some sort of karma system could have prevented this.

There are quite a few bugs sometimes, but it is hard to say if these exist only in the beta stage. For example one minor mission, to capture 5 Gotham villains needs you to return to your nearest police station. This was constantly what I had to do next, despite going to all of the different police stations in Gotham, I could find no way to end the mission. Finally someone told me I had to go to a poster on the outside of the station, which was not at all obvious.

The fight with Bane’s distributor Diego was also incredibly annoying. This was before I knew it was possible to group with other people, and so I kept trying to take him on my own. All too often my health was not recharging, the orientation would not align properly so attacking was hard…although this would be fixed after respawing two or three times. I actually just gave up on trying to fight him, as getting knocked out and being forced to wait 10 second and start again from scratch is incredibly annoying.

However, I found out by hanging out on the roof, I could just let Nightwing fight the battle while I had a smoke, which was a whole lot simpler. Of course then it became hard to actually find Diego so I could arrest him, without any kind of indicator. The AI seemed to randomly glitch sometimes and not respond, although this could be related to the shitty connection I had at the time. Yes, the game definitely has some bugs. I also thought the dogs on Venom looked nothing like dogs, but I suppose they fit in the world based on the cartoons that the game is going for.

The Green Lanterns mission was interesting, although I wonder what part Green Lanterns now play. On the mission it is revealed that there are a great many Green Lantern recruits, which is strange and not explained. Why would an invasion of earth inspire the guardians of the universe to have hundred of GL recruits? Earth has been invaded before and they have never taken such a drastic measure. Will it be explained, or just have to be accepted as part of the world?

The fact that you can group for missions is amazing. Probably a standard feature of any MMORPG, but after being so frustrated at being unable to finish certain missions, and not wanting to waste hours level grinding up, it was a very nice surprise that I could do this. I did notice that after level 12 or so, it became very easy to level up, with each mission basically resulting in one more level; Although, I had been grouping a lot since this time as well.

The PvP part of the game seems interesting. I was quite frustrated while trying to play it, as the game stated that I had to be level 9 before I could access the PvP arenas. Of course, after I got to level 9 it was still not accessible. After getting to level 10 however it was, so either they changed it or there is an error in their message. I was unable to play straight up PvP as it never worked for me, but Legends PvP was quite fun, being able to play as one of the iconic characters you can unblock. Of course, quite often everyone chooses Batman, so having 8 Batmen fighting each other is an interesting sight.

The game also has an Alert system, which from what I gathered is when a big event in the story of the game is happening and many players can join to do the same mission. Alerts are interesting because you get access to cities or places that are not accessible in normal gameplay. For example the two alerts I played were at Area 51 and on Gorilla Island. One bug I encountered in the Area 51 alert was that I teleported up to a Brainiac ship and then had no way to get back down at all. Luckily, the warp to rally point feature the game has is a godsend and an easy way to bypass such design flaws.

The game was a bit buggy at times, but nothing to major and the bugs were not recurring often. During the first Scarecrow mission one of the barrels disappeared which made it impossible to neutralize. It was frustrating to have to restart the mission. The enemies still shoot you during the animations, something I noticed as I lost a lot of health while the camera zoomed into introduce Eddie or Scarecrow. It is particularly annoying to have to wait 10 seconds to respawn after being knocked out, especially if you are low on health and get knocked out frequently. I don’t know if this is normal for MMORPG games, but I found it quite frustrating until I started grouping on missions. The little stretching animation after you respawn doesn’t help.

When the game was finishing on the 5th of January, there was an interesting end of the world invent, where the developers took on iconic characters Superman, Batman, Joker and Lex Luthor and were fighting the entire population of the game worlds. This was interesting to see everyone in one palce at once, although given that they were playing at level 60 and sometimes with godmode, it just seemed a fun way for the devs to massacre everyone before the game went live.

One minor thing that deserves mention is the game had no problems when I would regularly alt + tab out of it. This is nice as some games can’t cope with that and seeing as this is the type of game people will be playing for extended periods of time, it is nice that it can.

The game is definitely a lot of fun, and if I could afford it I would definitely pay for it. Unfortunately at this point in time with my traveling hobo budget, I cannot justify it. I am interested to see where the game goes storywise and if they can keep it fresh. After a monthly of playing I already felt it was getting somewhat stale and repetitive, so it will be interesting to see if many people just play it once for a few months, of if it gains many longterm players. I also have to wonder if this is DC’s main answer to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I already voiced my disappointment at DC’s apparent short sightedness at deliberately keeping their films in separate universes and it seems they may be concentrating on this instead. Given that games make more money than movies these days, maybe it’s not such a bad idea.

In any event, the game is an awful lot of fun, and I do recommend trying it out especially if there is any sort of free trial. I would like to thank Sony for letting me beta test it for a month as well. I will be paying attention to this game, as I am very interested to see how it turns out.

Update 1 – Feburary 8th 2011
Added some missing notes on costume creation, the respawn delay and a few bugs as well as two screenshots.