CCI: Hands On with "DC Universe Online: Fight for the Light"

"DC Universe Online" is no stranger to add-on content, with new missions, raids and other small items added constantly to the ever-growing massive multiplayer online (MMO) world. But the first major downloadable content for the game, the previously announced Green Lantern expansion "Fight for the Light," is no mere tacking-on of content. Instead, it opens up a whole new parallel universe to the ongoing Sony Online Entertainment game, with additional powers and abilities to explore, as well as a few new areas based around the Green Lantern universe. Comic Book Resources recently stopped by SOE's booth at Comic Con International in San Diego to go hands-on with "Fight."

The first thing you'll notice is how you'll be able to adapt to the Lanterns' abilities, no matter which character you're using. Two different grades are available. For villains (or not-so-friendly characters), the fear-inducing Yellow Lantern powers will open up. For heroes, you'll access the Green Lantern abilities. No matter which one you go with, you'll find no shortage of attacks to use on opponents, thanks to the ability to build techniques using the Construct.

If you're unfamiliar with the Construct, it's a virtual ability where you create objects using the power of your provided Yellow or Green Lantern ring. It can be anything, from fists flying through the air to physical objects, such as a train or a plane. A sub-menu, located on the bottom of the screen, shows you what techniques are available, activated by either hitting particular functions on a keyboard (for PC) or combining trigger presses with buttons (on the PlayStation 3). These functions are easy to access, but you'll need to keep a close eye on your Lantern energy. Once you run out, you'll need to execute quick and heavy attacks on opponents to build it back up again. Fortunately, it doesn't take too long to refill.

Building unique combos with the Construct powers is actually pretty cool. You can really chain together some promising attacks here, while also using occasional defensive techniques (such as shielding) should you become overwhelmed by opposing forces. Out of all the weapons that became available, two really stand out.

The first is an Apache gunship. You summon an aerial attack with this, clearing the path of any enemies unfortunate enough to be standing in its crosshairs. It swoops in quickly and effectively, hitting its mark with very little error.

But our personal favorite? The chainsaw. Yep, your character can go Ash all over someone's hide by pulling out a green or yellow Black & Decker and going to town. What's more, you can keep it active when enemies aren't around, simply by revving it. Then, when you're ready, let loose with some brutal close-up strikes.

Other options are just as effective, such as boxing gloves (perfect when enemies surround you or stand in your way), a locomotive (which lays down virtual tracks and runs over anyone standing on them) and a light whip (perfect for quick stuns). Both characters, Yellow and Green, are very balanced here with these abilities, and you can build up your skills to make them even more powerful in later parts of the missions. Unfortunately, we have yet to see what's happening with the Red Lanterns (namely Vice and Atrocious), but we'll get to that point soon enough.

As for environmental design, we only saw one level in the game, the Sciencells located on the Lanterns' home planet of Oa. It's a nice, wide-open space, one that continuously fills with opponents with one of two motives -- an escape from the prison (Yellow Lanterns) or thwarting said escape (Green Lanterns). The attention to detail in this area is quite impressive, with glowing walls surrounding the structure, cool flashing lights on a far-away panel and the city of Oa sitting in the distance.

It should also be noted that the character animation is as smooth as Ganthet's dome. Watching these Construct attacks come together is almost as much fun as executing them, and the whole thing ran at a speedy frame rate -- though we still need to test it out extensively online. Onscreen characters haven't changed much in appearance aside from that, resembling the heroes you've been playing in "DC Universe Online" for months. We're eager to see where the new environments take us, including Coast City and S.T.A.R. Labs.

Though the demo was too short to see the characters that would be included, we do know that Lyssa Drak will be making an appearance (probably reading from the Book of Parallax), and Guy Gardner will be on hand to fight opponents while cracking a wise. And of course, you can't have a Green Lantern expansion without the return of Hal Jordan, who was already an integral part of "DC Universe Online" to begin with. He'll be popping in to lend a hand, as well.

We appreciate Sony Online Entertainment taking the time to walk us through our hands-on session with "Fight for the Light." Fans of the ongoing MMO adventure will no doubt find themselves right at home, though they'll need to adapt to the Lanterns' eloquent power. That's just part of the fun, though. We're already plotting what Construct-based combos work best for us.

"Fight for the Light" arrives later this summer for both PC and PlayStation 3, and will sell for $9.99.

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