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Those dusty virtual tights: Why it's City of Heroes for me

Despite having some very good reasons to put City of Heroes down, the studio formerly known as Cryptic Studios has once again dragged $15 from my tiny student stipend. I've already logged 880 hours in the game and I'm honestly not sure what I expect to find. However, it was nonetheless a pretty easy decision with the criteria I had to deal with.

The choice of a new MMORPG to play has become easier since I came to realize that most MMORPGs aren't for me. I usually at least give them a try because they're an MMORPG and the idea of having thousands of players in the same game world with you is awesome. However, most often than not, I usually discover an EverQuest clone. So many MMORPGs emulate EverQuest that it's as though Firiona Vie is some kind of wall infestation found near server farms.

If you still like EverQuest-like games then you've nothing to worry about. I recommend EverQuest 2, the only modern MMORPG that can legally wear their Firiona Vie on the outside of their walls, perhaps the only genuinely innovative and improved EverQuest out there. The only other one I could recommend is is Final Fantasy XI for mostly Square-Enix brand game craftsmanship reasons.

(Oh, right, there's also World of Warcraft. I wouldn't recommend it, nor its clone, Lord of the Rings Online. I don't care how popular WoW is. Maple Story has four times as many players as WoW and I wouldn't recommend it either.)

As for me, I've both been drawn to and repelled from different EverQuest-like games literally dozens of times. Boredom transformed to apprehension. Apprehension mutated into fear. Now an EverQuest clone lurks in every shadow, taunting me with brandwidth-friendly combat mechanics that haven't been interesting since 1999. I want to move on, and yet I still think MMORPGs could be awesome, so I continue to try.

So far, only Tabula Rasa and City of Heroes are big-name MMORPGs that have done things adequately differently for my liking. True, there are still experience bars and levels and mobs to defeat, but the important thing to notice is that the core game - the activity you do while earning those experience points - has adequately changed. These two games are perhaps the only true refuges for EverQuest clone burnouts.

(Planetside might have been a good third except they never did quite pull off that MMORPG-like meaningfulness. I might as well buy a copy of BF2142 for all the worldliness Planetside offers. It'd take a few changes to get me to play Planetside.)

So I've two viable MMORPGs and only time for one. Lately, I've determined that Tabula Rasa is just not quite finished enough. It's an intangible thing but, as I get deeper into the game, I realize the developers have yet to put in the necessary effort to finish the zones. All zones need to be at least as well-detailed and refined as their Wilderness and they're simply not.

Now that I've made my decision, I have a new quest: to try to discover where the appeal of the end game is in City of Heroes. My previous investigations suggest that the game has no self-perpetuating end game activity of consequence. In this case, there's really no reason to level up a character: you're only going to run into that brick wall of there being nothing to do when you get there. However, perhaps my previous investigations overlooked something. I sure hope so, if I expect to have anything to do with an MMORPG these days.

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