Champions Online Is a Better Mafia Wars (with Superheroes!)


Time management games on Facebook follow a standard template. User completes tasks, tasks let user gain levels, and so on. Despite that simplicity, games like Mafia Wars and Mobsters 2 add multiple levels of complexity and confusion that many define as "better." But our eyes were opened today when we chose to become a superhero.

Here's the shocker. Champions Online for Facebook is a marketing tool to get players to its bigger PC -based massively multiplayer (MMO) game called Champions Online. Created by the same folks who developed the City of Heroes/ City of Villains MMO game franchises, one would assume that any Facebook app based on the big MMO would either be too difficult (more of a video game) or too shallow (low-level advertising). Yet, it's neither. Champions Online is simpler to play, feels faster and comes with visual cues that make difficult tasks easier for players of Mafia Wars and Mobsters 2.

That simplicity is apparent when you start playing. Building an online persona couldn't be easier. Choose one of three Champion types (each gains one of the three major resources in the game at a faster rate). Then you name your Champion. You don't get to choose gender, just a name and you're launched into a short demonstration about to play.

As with other management games, players level up their Champions through a series of Missions. Under the Missions tab, players expend energy to gain XP (experience points), which ultimately gets them the next level.

Sometimes, these Task have Requirements from obtaining certain skills that are needed in order to complete a task. While other games force players to seek those items on their own, Champions Online automatically presents the player with the option to visit the "Power Broker" where they can by those needed items. As long as you have the money, you can buy the items.

Each completed Task gets players closer to completing the Mission at hand. Fully completed Missions unlock new Worlds that take more Energy to complete.

At the same time, XP points give way to higher levels and four skill points, used to increase five different skills. We recommend adding skill points to energy in order to level up faster. Fighters who choose the Protector class (fighter) would want to add more skill points to stamina and health.

Even if players don't want to fight, they'll eventually be required to fight fellow players. As with the rest of the game, action buttons are well-labeled and bright green. Fighting uses Health and Stamina, depending on the skill of the person you're trying to attack. All the big actions here are clearly labeled in bright green and start with a verb. It's game design 101 but very effective.

In our first hour with Champions Online, we're impressed with the game's easy-to-understand presentation, a greater focus on playing and less on guessing what to do next. Improvements over games like Mafia Wars includes an option where if you don't have enough cash on hand for an item but do have the money deposited in the bank, you can automatically withdraw the funds. While it may not seem as deep as Mafia Wars or Mobsters 2, Champions Online for Facebook eliminates the tedium that's so commonly associated with other social networking games. If you're already a fan of another time management game, you owe it to yourself to play.

Play Champions Online for Facebook >>