Let's get down to brass tacks here, and discuss exactly what I don't like about this game. Instance zones. Not just instance zones in particular, because it is fairly nice in a game to not have to compete with another group for mobs, but most of the settings for the instanced zones are incredibly limited. You twist and turn your way through tight corridors. It gives more than an unfair advantage to the NPCs because of how they're placed for ambushes, which is in part, a contributor to the largest problem in this game. Pulling or getting strategic positions against opponents in the game is nearly impossible. They're aggro range is ridiculously perceptive, and pulling is nearly impossible besides one enemy in a mob that patrols an area. This diversely effects the game play and strategy. With virtually no pulling, and the only way to gain a close range position on the competition is with a sneaking or invisibility skill, there is nearly no tactics you can employ. Damage support cannot sneak up from behind after a tank has established enough aggro because of the sheer numbers of enemies that attack so swiftly. Battles become nothing more than disorganized rushes where healers desperately try to convince everyone to stay in range to keep them alive. The game itself becomes more of a push button MMO. A game where strategy is so limited all you can do is press a button to use a skill as soon as it's available. A big disadvantage in this kind of MMO is the insufficient class structures for Villains. There is no definitive tank, nor healer. There is a plethora of DPS running around with minor healers simply trying to stay alive. The alternative to DPS is basically buffs or debuffs. These have limited effectiveness though, since none are primarily buffs or debuffs, and while they do help the ones that are buffs are actually some of the best DPS. Would you rather be the one who deals out the decisive blows? Or the jerk who runs around trying to rally everyone away from their fights for minor heals and buffs that have limited potential for advancement?
Even more annoying about these instance zones is the difficulty multiplies by the number of group members you have. So rather than hunting for mobs in an area that would be more than challenging to take on yourself, it really doesn't matter where you hunt as long as the average group level is above that of the mission. It becomes almost formulaic.
It's in my personal opinion that it's almost better to solo. In fact, while it is more time consuming, hunting mobs outside of instance zones, and launching very tactical strikes against inner zoned mobs, is a lot more fun than just utter chaos in tunnels. The characters are nearly built for it. The way the classes are split up with different abilities, almost makes every character a EQ Druid. Soon after grouping with the average Joe, I realized soloing was a lot more fun for me. I didn't have to deal with the annoying MMO player stereotypes, which make most MMOs utter dependence on grouping unbearable in the middle levels. This also helps side step the fact that your character really isn't that customizable. The elimination of equipment, basically leaves the costumes to differentiate between one character of the same class as another. You follow a basic pattern. Your robot creating force field using character will have the exact same powers as every other robotic mastermind out there. Stats don't really change, especially because of the lack of equipment, which only re-enforces the push button MMO style it has. Who can press the right button the most times at the right times is the better player of that class. So when you play alone, you don't need to worry about redundancies, or comparing yourself against a mirror basically.
The one thing I would nitpick the most about the game is something I really miss about Everquest. You cannot just randomly attack NPCS. That’s right, as a villain, you are forbidden from attacking and robbing civilians. Robbing banks and casinos is only allowed when you fulfill enough missions from your broker. You cannot just randomly show up at a bank and decide to rob it. Things like this shake the very philosophy of the game. Where Everquest 2’s division of the two cities, one being overwhelmingly good and the other being overwhelmingly evil, is annoying and really not something they should be trying to accomplish, CoV seems to have the exact opposite problem. There should be no division between the cities in Norrath (Everquest) because they are just warring nations, not forces of evil and good. But CoV you are actually playing a dark force. That’s the entire point of the game. There’s no gauge on how evil your deeds are. You can’t go on a mission to steal some rare artifact from orphans, then betray your contacts. It’s incredibly linear.
But most likely the best attribute of these games is the travel powers. While the powers you use to actually travel great distances are almost completely impractical in real battle because of the limitations on the settings, there is no denying it's fun to super jump from mission to mission, or fly from roof top to roof top. But I found the way they introduce these powers very conflicting. You cannot buy the ability to fly. You can't do special missions to get the technology to teleport. No, you actually have to use one of your level abilities to gain one of these. Players are faced with the choice of running fast, and dealing more damage with a new attack. Sure walking from mission to mission is a longer more boring process, but it does make the battles a little bit easier on you.
There are toss ups in the game. Instead of spending vast sums of money and time on equipment, you spend every other level on enhancements of your powers. But these enhancements don't really seem to do much for you. Your abilities naturally advance as you do, and you don't spend your levels on specific advancements for each skill, rather on slots that you have to buy the enhancements to fill. You never have enough money to keep up with this ridiculous venture. It doesn't replace equipment at all. Instead, it eliminates equipment and makes leveling a slower and more annoying process.
But don't get me wrong, there are good things with the game. The character customization function is ridiculously fun. I could see expansions in the future that primarily add costumes. Soloing, as I've already said, is a more exciting and fulfilling experience than most MMOs. And if you do spend the time to get travel powers, you will be rewarded with an experience unmatched in MMOs.
Overall, is this game worth a monthly fee? Well they wont be getting any more of my money after this free week. I got a free 30 day trial, a free 14 day friend pass, hero clicks, a comic book, collectible cards, and the DVD edition, for a lot less than WoW costs. Am I satisfied with my buy? Yes, very much so. Especially considering that at any time if I do want to start it back up again, all I have to do is reactivate my account.