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A Mild-Mannered Reporter: Super news, super review

Eliot Lefebvre

It's been a fairly quiet month on the superhero front, which is the way of things. Some months it seems as if you can't go a day without a new launch; others you realize belatedly that it's the end of the month because another round of bills are due. Possibly including subscription fees. It all ties together.

Of course, the superhero arena has been quiet for a little while now, but we're seeing signs of life cropping up once again. There are titles in development, new content approaching, and a launch in about a month that should really be getting a bit more marketing support. That's a topic for another article.

So as we do once per month at A Mild-Mannered Reporter, it's time to look back over the past month or so and talk about the news stories that have cropped up relating to the genre of men and women in spandex punching robots.

Guys we can't all be Batman. Guys?Infinite Crisis sure has a lot of heroes

To the surprise of absolutely no one who has ever seen an entry in this genre ever, Infinite Crisis has been pumping out previews of heroes at a rate of roughly one per hour. Or something like that; I'm not great with math. I do know that thus far we've seen Doomsday, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and two completely separate versions of Batman.

Allow me to say now words that have never before been uttered by a human being: I think we've really gotten enough strange variants on Batman at the moment. We've got DC Universe Online with alternate Batmen, we've got Infinite Crisis offering us alternate Batmen. I really think we've reached a good stopping point vis-a-vis the addition of more alternate Bat-incarnations. Let's see some alternate takes on some other people, huh? Green Arrow? An interesting take on Aquaman?

Leaving aside that relatively minor quibble, I think the game continues to look like a good take on what is admittedly an overcrowded genre. People who have played it (which does not include me at this time) have been impressed. I look forward to seeing it in action, but it's doing a good job of fitting the superheroic characters into the mechanics.

Statesman would remain dead.City of Heroes does not turn nine

Last year I was fairly optimistic about what we could see for CoH year number nine. That ninth year turned out to not happen. I considered doing a column to commemorate it, but I've said so much about the game that I would be repeating myself, something that you all know I don't like to do.

This does not mean that there aren't any anniversary celebrations still going on, events focused around recalling the game in all its glory. This is good and constructive, a testimony to a game that's had an immense impact on probably most of the people reading this column now. The loss is still felt, even now.

Fan project Heroes and Villains took the opportunity to release a website revamp and teaser trailer, which is a bit info-light but is obviously aimed primarily at reminding people that these fan projects still exist. I'm still not sure that we'll ever see any of them in an actual playable state, but the spirit is alive, and that's the important part. There's also the requisite amount of community drama, which is a nice sign that in the wake of loss we've found it in our hearts to splinter and be angry at one another.

Of all the Carol Danverses, you're the Carol Danversest.Marvel Heroes changes hero purchases

I'm going to go ahead and say that in the right circumstances, random stuff is fun. There's definitely a sense of joy ripping into a booster pack for Magic: the Gathering. The trouble comes when you just want one specific card and wind up ripping into several packs looking for one stupid card that doesn't exist in your reality, requiring you to pony up money to go buy it individually.

In MMOs, random item packs can be done well or done poorly. Doing them well is along the lines of Star Wars: The Old Republic's implementation -- you get a random pack, and the items therein can (and are) resold for in-game credits, so your biggest loss is getting nothing you want and nothing you can resell along with some assured bonuses. The idea of having to randomly get your heroes in Marvel Heroes, on the other hand, was like taking the one endearing aspect the game presently has and attaching it to a slot machine.

Reversing that plan doesn't exactly inspire praise, but it's certainly the right move. It seemed like an idea that would never make it to prime time, and that's clearly the case. So. Moving on.

DC Universe Online has a crisis

Yes, admittedly that was something I talked about at length. In fairness, that article was written as I was coming down with what I like to call the Omega Virus, so I was not at my most astute. We've since seen the Quantum powers in action, which look visually impressive and more or less exactly like you'd expect based on the set description.

I've been critical of the other major superheroic titles of late, but honestly DC Universe Online seems to still be doing a good job of knowing what it is and what it's trying to accomplish with each update. That doesn't make it the best game ever, but it does mean that its updates have a certain sense of cohesiveness. We'll see once we actually get into the new DLC.

As always, feedback is welcome in the comments below or via mail to Next week, I completely ignore the proper format and just give nine reasons.

By day a mild-mannered reporter, Eliot Lefebvre spent years in City of Heroes before the world-shattering event that destroyed his home world. But he remains as intrepid as ever, traveling to other superheroic games and dispensing his unique brand of justice... or lack thereof.

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