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The Birth of Gabriel Bright – DC Universe

Out of the ashes of our future destruction, a new hero has been born. Gabriel Bright. Beacon of hope. Defender of justice. Burdened, as are we all, with the knowledge of what is to come – and the responsibility to prevent it.

View now, the future we must change:

So, what you just watched (you did watch it right? I mean seriously, how hard is it to press a simple play button? That’s all you have to do; it works all by itself after that) is the opening movie that sets the stage for the DC Universe Online game.

In my humble opinion, that movie rocks. I guarantee you there is stuff in there you didn’t catch. Watch it again, with commentary by the creators to see how much is in there.

That is a bleak future. It sets the stakes pretty high for the game – basically you need to help save the entire planet from enslavement.

So as the movie shows, a somewhat humbled Lex Luthor came back in time and released these things into the atmosphere that can give ordinary people super-powers in an effort to build a critical mass of strength to beat back the Brainiac invasion. As the player, you pick up from there and create your character. There is a surprising amount of customization you can perform, though you’re still doing variations on a theme. To make the game fair, you can’t just load your character up with all sorts of powers like Superman. You choose a base set of powers and grow from there.

Which brings me to Gabriel.

I created a character who could fly and was a straight-forward brawler, but with a skill for gadgets. The plan was to try to mix qualities of the Superman and Batman archetypes. I gave him a coat and vest because in my head he needs someplace to keep his gadgets, but I also wanted something that would flap like a cape when flying, without being as cheesy as an actual cape. I chose yellow and blue as the color scheme because I wanted him to be a “beacon of hope” type of character and yellow seemed to suit that… and also because I suck at color and was getting impatient to start.

Then I had to pick a name. That turned out to be the hardest part of the whole character creation. I wanted it to be a name that sounded like it might have come from a comic book. That turned out to be almost impossible. Every name I came up with was already in use or banned (presumably because it actually was owned by DC). I almost gave up and just used some random letters and numbers – but after about 30 other attempts, “Gabriel Bright” was accepted. It certainly wasn’t the best name on my list, but I actually kind of like it.

Despite the cool movie, my expectation was that the gameplay itself would be interesting at first and then just get repetitive as you bash your way through the bad guys with ever increasing strength. There is some of that, but they’re pretty smart in letting you develop your powers in multiple directions, so if you want to keep it interesting you can certainly do that.

I haven’t played any large-scale action games in years, so this was a welcome find for me over the Christmas break. I played this for hours, day after day of my vacation. I have to admit, I’m not very smart about growing my powers or managing my “hit points”. I try to keep too many options open and never really concentrate in any one area, so it takes me forever to really excel. I really enjoy my time in the game, though, whether I’m just sightseeing around the different cities, engaging the fun mini-challenges like flying through a timed course, or throwing down with Nightwing or Superman taking out some DC criminal – or sometimes a mind-controlled hero (I really enjoyed the battle against the Teen Titans mission).

I like how they’ve integrated the Justice League into the gameplay, as they advise and direct you to different missions. You can even play as some of them in special team missions (by the way, I make a horrible Robin).

Did I mention it’s free? It’s a huge download and install, but for the basic game, it is free. You can pay to get more features or characters, or to gain skills faster, which widens the game play, but I’m perfectly happy with the free version.

If you’re in the game, let me know. Since I came off vacation I haven’t had much time to play, but I’m thinking I need another dose of saving the world.

What powers would you want? What name would you give your hero (or villain… you can go either way in this game, which is another cool point)?

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