Developer: Turbine Inc
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Genre: Action, Free-to-Play, Strategy, MOBA
Platform: PC (Steam)
Price: Free (or $19.99 to $89.99 for DLC)
Rating: T (for Teen) Blood and Violence
Release Date: March 26th, 2015
Having played DOTA 2, Heroes of the Storm (HotS) and League of Legends (LoL), I guess it was only a matter of time before other properties moved squarely into the mutliplayer online battle arena (MOBA) zone. Turbine’s Infinite Crisis is one such an attempt, using the Detective Comics heroes such as Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and many more. By tacking the Infinite Crisis title to the game, they can constantly introduce new, different variations of every hero and villain in the DC Universe from variant Earths.
The game itself lathers on a story about the battle between the entity known as the Monitor and an unknown malevolent force bent on destroying every single Earth in existence. The player is known as a Protector – you are there to help stop the destruction. Heroes (or villains) are getting ripped from their realities and set adrift in the space between worlds called the Bleed, where all the battles take place. You connect to them with your system, allowing them to regain their strength and focus. When they lose connection to the Protectors, heroes/villains become weakened by the Bleed again. I won’t spoiler anything in the review, save that the story is so secondary to using super-powered people to bash on each other and re-arrange the environment.
The game is your basic MOBA format – you have a base, you have your champions (heroes/villains) with their unique skills, and you have your constant stream of minions (called drones in IC) that march forever towards the enemy base. As your champions gain experience, they become better “in-tune” to you, allowing you to unlock their powers. Basically, they gain skill points, you choose where to assign them. Every champion has a very powerful ability that unlocks at level 6, and they can also use “stolen” powers from other champions on occasion. Mostly, you keep your champion moving with the stream of drones until they encounter an enemy, and then use all your available resources and powers to destroy them until you reach their base and destroy their power core. Of course, the enemy is attempting to do the same. Pretty standard, right?
The game requires you have an account with Turbine Inc, but you’ve ever played any of their other games (such as Lord of the Rings Online or Dungeons and Dragons Online) you can just use the same account. After signing up and downloading the client, you enter game’s interface, where you can do a plethora of things. Of course, to earn your first few free champions you have to play the tutorial missions in the training mode. These are a piece of cake if you’ve played other MOBAs before, although there are significant differences in powers are developed and how the game makes use of them. The first tutorial level alone unlocks Gaslight Batman, who is unique in his own way. It’s not long before you have a simple roster of characters to pick from to play your first few games against other people. Not all champions are heroes, either – you’ll be able to use villains in your games as well.
For those of you not familiar with MOBA games, you chose a game to play. You can see what maps, limitations and other special circumstances are set for the game. Once you select a game to play, you are taken to a mission area where you will see your roster of champions that you can choose from. You can alter their stolen powers and their amplifiers. It also allows you to chose an alternative costume for a champion if you own one. There is usually a time limit to how long you can take to make up your mind before you’re forced into the game, so plan wisely but quickly. If the game allows teams, your teammates will be able to see what you are doing and you they. You can chat only with people on your side in this area, supposedly to discuss strategy. Once both sides are ready, the game launches, and the players are put in the arena.
Arenas are maps that have a symmetrical build. There is an area on each side of the map where the players start with their main base and a power core. There are defined paths between the bases, called Lanes, where players can direct their champions to move towards the other base. Of course, the game AI spits out drones that constantly march from one player’s base to the other, and they will try to destroy an incoming drones or champions they encounter. At certain points, players will attempt to gain control of the environment, allowing them to construct turrets and erect gates. Most of the strategy relies on controlling the map so you can eventually push into the other player’s base, forcing them to fight a losing battle until you destroy their power core. Everything is in real-time, meaning you must always be moving, watching and preparing for assaults. The enemy is doing the same, constantly trying to out-guess or out-maneuver you. Since you can’t always see what’s going on in an area of the map unless you have units there, you will use powers to spy or spot enemy forces.
Some changes in Infinite Crisis that I haven’t experienced in other MOBAs is the use of “stolen” powers, which are the superpowers of other champions that you can tack onto your own champions. For example, giving Gaslight Batman Super Strength, or giving Arcane Green Lantern Super Speed. It’s an interesting way to try to compensate and manipulate the environment for your own benefit. The choice can be other than generic, as well. You can chose to have the Super Strength of Superman or Aquaman, over the generic Super Strength, if you own the champion in question.There is a benefit of a particular champion’s power over the generic stolen version, so it does help to try to determine ahead of time what strategy you’ll be using when fighting other champions.
Other things include hidden “stealth” areas you can move your hero into, that makes them invisible to the enemy (until the enemy finds them and moves into the same hidden area). As you destroy enemies, they drop money that your champion can pick up (or if your champion scores the “final blow” on a drone or enemy champion, the money is instantly transferred to your champion. You can use this money then in your Construct area to buy or advance relics, which then improve on your champion’s abilities. There is a plethora of upgrades through relics that come in handy in a game, and I found myself often having to decide how to spread out my strategy a bit with relics to stay competitive in a match. Some champions benefit more from relics and upgrades, others are downright powerful to start with but don’t grow as fast as others. The balance is in how you play and who you pick.
Which brings us to the true cost of Infinite Crisis – gaining other interesting champions that you might want to bash other people with, as well as the champions’ alternative costumes or amplifiers. There’s literally two ways to gain new champions and alternative costumes, and both require using the game’s Store function. You can buy stuff with Merit you gain through repeated play, or you can buy stuff with Cartel Coins you buy from Turbine Inc with cash. Of course, it takes LESS Cartel Coins to gain one champion, since they normally cost five times as much in Merit. You don’t have to spend money to play Infinite Crisis, but if you want to use Atomic Wonder Woman, for example, in your earlier matches, you’ll be plunking down real money for Cartel Coins.Costumes are just new skins that don’t do anything. Alternate champion types vary the kind of roles they play. Amplifiers give you more of an oomph in a game.
Of course, on Steam, there’s also two DLC packages that give you an ability to bypass some of the hassle. At regular price, the basic package (8 Champions including a gold Superman) is $19.99, while the elite package (all 33 purchasable champions) is $89.99. As of this publication of this article (March 29), both DLC were discounted, so the elite was only $29.99. Yet, as I go out to the store, there’s Krypto (Superman’s dog) that’s not included in either package. That’s probably going to be the constant struggle of trying to keep up, since I can see them introducing new champions every week for years.
The graphics are well done, and the music is very catchy. It feels epic in a lot of ways, although you know deep down all you are doing is playing a version of League of Legends, only with comic book characters. The game play is fairly balanced at this point, and it doesn’t seem overwhelming to stick to the main unlocked characters when playing other people. In fact, I found it entertaining to be playing another Gaslight Batman while I was beating down on him with Harley Quinn – both free champions. They do have nifty animations and cool cut-scenes that give it all the DC feel, and I enjoyed playing it a lot for the first few days. The maps selection is slim, but that’s because it’s relatively new. BONUS: I have yet to run into a troll yet like I did back in LoL and HotS, and I hope Turbine is a little more conscious about monitoring and responding to complaints. The main reason I quit playing League of Legends was the countless jackasses I had to play over and over again, or the dozens of elitists who constantly hazed me over my choice of builds. I complained once, and got banned once. If I ever go back to League of Legends, it will be a day too soon.
Infinite Crisis is what it is, though, and you really shouldn’t take anything more away from it than, “It’s just another MOBA, only with DC comic book characters.” People who like these kinds of games will probably enjoy it for awhile. Comic book fans will probably love it for all the flashy, cool costumes and champions. I can’t say I’ll play it a lot, but it is a refreshing break from the sims I bury myself in.
Nathan is a 40-ish year-old gamer, father and programmer. His hobbies are board games, video games and watching his son. He wrote for http://www.ironmanmode.com/ for the years of 2012 and 2013 to make money for Child's Play. He has been basically playing games since the 1980's in one form or another. His very first favorite video game was actually an arcade game called Dig Dug. He has played every generation of video game console (including the Magnavox Odyssey)