I had tried Everquest after hearing about the addictive gameplay, but I was bored of it within the month. Something about the fantasy setting just didn’t appeal to me. But I started reading about a new take on the game genre involving superheroes fighting supervillains in a living ever-changing metropolis. As a member of the Straight Dope message boards (SDMB), a number of us decided to try out this City of Heroes and team up on missions. I went to Best Buy after work, shelled out my $50, went home, and installed it. About 30 minutes later I was creating my first superhero, Max Carnage, a 7ft tall, muscle-bound tank.
At first, everyone was earthbound, having to run to places by foot, using the always on-time rail system to get from region to region in Paragon City. Within the week, people started leveling up enough to gain movement powers. I will never forget the first time I logged in and saw heroes in flight. It was amazing. I imagined what a time traveler would have felt like seeing an airplane for the first time. I couldn’t wait to join them in the clouds.
The group from SDMB eventually created a supergroup (the equivalent of “guilds” in fantasy games) named CECIL (Cecil’s Excellent Counter-Ignorance League, or something like that.) We’d meet up nightly and fight crime, do task force missions, or just gather in one area and shoot the breeze while playing with on-screen emotes. I always relied on the ever-present member Culex to know the inner-workings of CoH. She’d explain the best way to load-up on powersets, what all the percentages meant, things my pea brain couldn’t wrap around. The more complex the game got, the more into it she got.
A couple of years later I met my future wife. She’s a geek but wasn’t into online gaming, so I found myself having to split my time between CECIL and She Geek. Eventually She Geek won my affections and City of Heroes became a very sporadic pastime for me. I couldn’t justify the $15 per month fee, when I could spend that money on dating the love of my life. Still even after years of neglecting my crime-fighting duties, when I’d log on, I’d nearly always find a member of CECIL online willing to help me get back up to speed.
And today, the lights will go dark in Paragon City. CoH has been such a minor part of my life the past few years that I shouldn’t care that much, but I do. Not having the option to get my superhero fix just stinks. I’ve tried DC Universe Online and Champions Online, but neither of them had the same…purity of City Of Heroes. I spent nights doing nothing but playing with the robust character creator and taking screenshots of my near-ripoffs and comedic attempts. CoH’s story lines were fun and harkened back to the golden age of comics. And best of all, the people I spent time with were genuinely good folk, unlike so many of the rude jerks you find on XBL or PSN (you know who you are.)
So in honor of City of Heroes, I wanted to share a gallery of some of my characters and in game screenshots. I know these won’t mean a lot to you who never got to experience the joy of leaping across Perez Park to fight the Skulls or teaming up with literally hundreds of other heroes to ward off a Rikti invasion, but if you were ever a part of City of Heroes/City of Villains, please feel free to tell us some of your memories and share your characters with us.
Thank you Cryptic Studios, NCSoft, and Statesman for the great experience of the only MMO worth playing, in my humble opinion. Long may your capes wave.