The Curious Case of DC Universe Online

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Some day you’ll be able to play DC Universe Online on the PC and PlayStation 3. This, along with a few other scraps of random screenshots and information, is all anyone knows about the massively multiplayer online game. Video footage of actual gameplay is scarcer than gold Kryptonite. The trickle of information reached new levels of madness today when Sony Online Entertainment made an official announcement that Zatanna, a D-list superhero (fear her because she casts mighty spells by reciting them backwards) if there ever was one, would appear in the game. True, other characters have been revealed, including heavy hitters like Superman, Batman, and Green Lantern, but in something called DC Universe Online, it would be more of a story if these guys didn’t suit up for the show.

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The Bizarro trickle of information about DCUO should be troubling for anyone looking forward to playing it. MMOG’s that feature already-established properties like The Matrix and Star Wars (another red flag: SOE also had a hand in both of these troubled MMOG projects) are extremely tough to pull off. The inherent flaw with these types of games is no one gets to be Neo, Luke Skywalker, and Superman because everyone wants to play as Neo, Luke Skywalker, and Superman. As a result, when you eventually play DCUO, you’ll have to settle for being a generic caped crusader and hope that sometime soon you’ll bump into the real Dark Knight (you’ll know things aren’t going well if you find yourself running into Zatanna instead).

I don’t see how SOE is going to make this work. I get a headache just thinking about the logistics involved with putting DCUO together. In a recent Facebook video Q&A (a rare instance of disclosure that, not surprisingly, doesn’t include any in-game footage), a developer boldly proclaims “This is the best superhero game you’ve ever played”. Does anyone actually believe this?

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