There have been few games, MMO or single-player, that really made me feel as though my character were an extension of myself. It’s all thanks primarily to the stellar and yet unmatched customization options the game was well-known for, but it went far beyond that.
Your hero was more than just looks; you’re character was a theme. Your powers, your costume, your aura – each piece invaluable in creating this persona.
The first few heroes I made felt like side-kicks, and even though I brought some of them into the 30s, I just couldn’t get over that. So I resolved to make a character who screamed hero. I remember spending hours on molding his body and designing his costume. I remember spending time at work thinking of the perfect biography.
I remember climbing to the roof of that Winn-Dixie the day the game came out, and reading the instruction booklet over lunch.
Eventually, I’d perfected my patriotic hero and called him Anthem (later renamed Anthem Aegis after a server transfer). The inspiration for his costume came from two of my favorite classic superheroes, Superman and Captain Marvel. I never made another hero after him.
Well, unless you count a brief stint in Champions Online.
That same sense of pride and uniqueness, I have never felt in a game since. In the end, I was:
The Courageous Unbreakable
Saved the World
And owner of some 570 badges at a time when there were only 600 to be had.
I did some searching and was able to find only one link to Anthem on City Info Tracker; a profile that I must have created on a whim and abandoned shortly after. It doesn’t have my badges listed, but there’s a screenshot and that biography I put so much heart into.
It’s too late now to download and play City of Heroes. The main website has been stripped of its sidebar, and any links in Google that lead to a download page direct you to Paragon’s farewell message. I wish I’d played more in the last three years or taken more screenshots (there have been a lot of new computers throughout), but I’ll always have the memories: Earning my cape, obtaining my aura, my first fight with Lusca, preventing a power plant meltdown, assailing the Rikti Mothership, fighting alongside Statesman, and countless others – those aren’t going anywhere.
So farewell to City of Heroes and to 2,649 hours on patrol.