SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - Batman fans inspired by his latest box office hit can bam and kapow alongside the Caped Crusader and other superheroes with the launch of the world’s first licensed massively multiplayer online comic book game.
Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) is using this week’s mammoth Comic-Con International show at the San Diego Convention Center to introduce the “DC Universe Online.”
This massively multiplayer online game allows players to create their own superhero or super villain and work in tandem with iconic characters like Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash and bad guys like Bizzaro, The Joker and Lex Luthor.
“Comics dominate the pop culture landscape today,” said comic book legend Jim Lee, who serves as executive creative director of “DC Universe Online” and is an artist for DC Comics.
“As comic fans, we’ve known since we were little kids how great comics are. With this game, we have the opportunity to show everyone else how cool the DC Universe is.”
Although the game won’t be shipping for PlayStation 3 and PC this year, an early build of the action-packed game, which focuses on Brainiac attacking Metropolis, is playable at six kiosks on the show floor.
SOE Austin, a unit of Sony Corp., is developing the game in tandem with Lee and a collection of DC Comic writers, which will allow for unique crossover opportunities between mediums.
“We’ll coordinate things across print and online,” said Lee. “If we have a big storyline happening in the summer, you might see that in the game later. I have a staff position at DC and we have a short list of characters that we’ll update first in the game and then in the comics.”
John Smedley, president of SOE, said there couldn’t be a better time to be developing “DC Universe Online.” In addition to the phenomenal success of Warner Bros.’ “The Dark Knight” in theaters, kids are watching hit animated shows like “Teen Titans” and “Justice League.”
While the new game will incorporate over 70 years of mythology and 150 characters from the core DC Universe, the focal point will be on new user-created characters.
“The biggest fantasy players can have is to be an equal of Superman, not necessarily to play as Superman,” said Chris Cao, studio creative director at SOE Austin.
As they progress through their hero or villain story, interacting with characters from the comics, Cao said players can aspire to one day joining with the Justice League of America in the Watch Tower or the Legion of Doom in the Hall of Doom.
John Blakely, vice president of development SOE Austin, said “DC Universe Online” offers physics-based combat action never seen before in an MMO game.
“When you pick up a bus and throw it across Metropolis, hundreds of thousands of players will be able to see this-and many of them will have to dodge this projectile for their safety,” said Blakely.
And “DC Universe Online” is not the only game in town at Comic-Con. Midway Games is showcasing its “Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe” fighting game on the show floor, which pits pugilists like Scorpion and Sub Zero from the popular, and bloody, game franchise against superheroes like Captain Marvel and Catwoman.
Activision and Marvel Games have new games “Spider-Man: Web of Shadows” playable and a trailer for “Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 Fusion” in their booth. SOE, Midway and Activision are all throwing parties to celebrate these games.
“Comic-Con is now an entertainment event and comics have proven themselves as mainstream entertainment across multiple mediums,” said Smedley.
Editing by Belinda Goldsmith