I eventually settled on a Lex Luthor origin for a psionic power-wielding acrobatic martial artist villain with a love of blues and greens and a chip on her shoulder. Her name is Barbara Bush (Mrs. Buttersworth was unavailable). Say hi to her!
Newly named (with a name that I'm sure will soon be added to the naming filter), I set out to wreak havoc on the unwitting citizens of Metropolis. Very quickly I found that most of my initial complaints from the demo had been addressed. The movement is now fluid, the animations are smooth, and the camera angles are much more under user control. The combat system is an interesting one for an MMO - while you have the standard hotkey bar at the bottom for your special abilities, a large portion of your attacks end up being a series of left and right clicks and holds. Combos are a very large part of combat, as are stuns, active blocking/dodging, and breakaways. It took a bit to get used to, but it's an interesting take on the old "MMOs are boring to play/take no skill" argument.
There are no auto-attacks in DCUO. Every action your character takes is via direct input, either from a hotkey or from a button press on your mouse or PS3 controller. I was settled in on a PC setup, so there wasn't much of a learning curve on that angle, though it took a little while to learn how to string together basic attacks with specials in an effective manner. Some abilities synergize with others, allowing interesting uses and increased damage depending on how you work them. I found myself particularly fond of using telekinesis to lift my enemies into the air before igniting them on fire with my mind.
The mission system is fairly similar to what you'd expect from an MMO: talk to this guy over here, get a quest, complete the quest, turn it in. One welcomed variation, however, is that often you can complete a quest directly from your quest log - no more running back to the questgiver just to get your reward before heading back out into the fray.
I found dying to be an almost inevitability, though I admit it took me a while to get used to the dodging and blocking that is vital to character survival. DCUO may look like and, in essence, be an MMO, but it plays like a fast-paced action game. There is constant action all around you - stand still too long checking your mission log, and you might get a bus thrown at your head (really).
All told, DC Universe Online definitely needed the launch delay, but I can see what they're doing with it. All of my previous grievances with the demo were cleared up and then some in the beta build I played, and the game looks really polished. It may have some more edges to smooth out before launch, but given what I saw last week, it's well on its way. Consider my interest renewed.
In accordance with 16 C.F.R. Part 255, FTC Guides Concerning the User of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising, I present this disclosure: "I attended a DC Universe Online event hosted by Sony Online Entertainment. Sony Online Entertainment paid for my flight, hotel and meals in connection with the event."