New DC Universe Online details emerge

No, you can't "be" Batman. Yes, you can fly.

Some new details have emerged of DC Universe Online, the new PC and PS3 MMO in development at Sony Online Entertainment.

In this month's Edge magazine, executive creative director Jim Lee describes DC Universe as a "kick-ass hybrid between a traditional MMO and a first-person action console game".

You'll get to create your own superhero or villain, choosing their particular powers, according to the Edge article. So you'll decide whether to attack using fire or ice, for example, and move around using acrobatics or the power of flight. Other potential abilities mentioned in the article include speed-running and teleportation.

As with a traditional MMO your character will level up as you progress, and you'll develop your powers. When the game starts you might be able to fly, but only later will you learn how to pull off specific moves and attacks in mid-air.

Although you don't get to "be" any of the famous DC characters, you do get to interact with them. That might mean you end up saving Superman from being stabbed with a shard of kryptonite by Lex Luthor. Or, if you're a villain, you could cause carnage by chucking cars around downtown Metropolis, thereby encouraging the boy in blue to turn up and fight you.

Metropolis is one of two large shared environments revealed so far, the other being Gotham City. Unlike World of Warcraft, DC Universe will be comprised of a mix of these environments and separate instances. And while there will still be instances and raids, the emphasis will be on fast-paced action rather than grinding.

There will be PvP arenas, and you'll be able to make use of your superpowers and those of others in interesting ways. For example, someone might freeze your character in a block of ice, then pick up the block and chuck it at another player. In some instances, PvP fights will end up turning into giant PvE boss battles.

In the future, it's possible we could see models, environments and costumes from the game turning up in other DC Comics properties, and there are plans for plot crossovers. "We can tie-in future DC tentpole events and translate the stories for the gaming world, and have them occur simultaneously," said Lee. "The possibilities are numerous and very exciting."

UPDATE: This article previously reported that DC Universe Online is out next year. This was an error on our part. Sony Online Entertainment has not yet given any word on when the game will be released. Sorry about that.

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