In my experiences playing MMORPGs, there are few I return to as much as Champions Online.
On the surface, the game is rather asthetically pleasing. It has a gentle cell-shading style that gives it a pleasant comic booky feel, environments and enemies that vary greatly between bright and popping, or dark and grim, and a very spectacular character creation system.
The extensive character creation allowed to players is one of the most detailed I have ever seen. Right away, you have hundreds of options for each part of the body: head, torso/arms, hands, legs/feet, even the size of each body part is highly customizable with many sliders working on length, size, and more of the same. And then the ability to change the colors of each individual part can result in some incredible or nauseatingly dizzy character designs. Currently, the most lacking thing for adjusting body type is the inability to make characters more chubby in appearance, the closest thing behing adjusting body-mass, which Hulkifies your character, but doesn't give any appearance of being heavy. Also concerning, as of late there have been players that make characters but don't play, favoring a quiter RP to killing baddies. Due to this, character creation options have slowly, but surely, started becoming limited in earlier levels. Still, the options allow for great creativity.
Still on the note of appearances, the range of powers is handled quite beautifly. Few abilities look choppy and strange in effect, often blending well together to create a fantastic super hero feel. Between two differently-themed characters with the same power set, the powers can suit both equally due to how they look and work in-game. The travel powers are no exception, and can be quite spectacular in functionality. There are different variations of the same power available to even unsubscribed players, which allows for better creativity in movement. Unfortunately, most of the more cool-looking power-sets and travel powers must be purchased from the store, but that doesn't hinder the ability to enjoy the game, unlike other MMOs I've seen.
Gameplay is also remarkably smooth, though it is far easier to play the game with a gamepad than a keyboard/mouse. On the keyboard, the use of abilities resides in the number keys or number pad, and requires holding the ALT or CTRL key sometimes to select other powers. To target, move, attack, repeat requires either speedy hand motions or a more compact way to control. Also, unless the skill of holding both mouse buttons and aiming where you want to go is mastered, using the keyboard and mouse to travel can be clunky and awkward. Upon plugging in a controller, it is quite clear the game was once to be on a console. Using powers, targeting, interaction with mission items and traveling are all far easier like this.
The functionality of the power sets is for the most part handled well. There are several power archetypes available in categories listed as ranged, tank, support, and hybrid, which lets players immediately know the recommended focus of each power set. While there are still some issues with power balance, each archetype is easily a piece of a whole, making teams truly a team where every individual has a purpose, making interacting with other people a fulfilling experience. That being said, the streamline of each power set can feel incredibly limited. While leveling, one or two ability slots have a choice, and more often than not, the choice has an obvious answer. While it makes sense that archetypes are set powers, it feels like there should be more options in selecting powers, and the options are in need of being equally beneficial to the player. Another issue can be the Free-Form power selection, which lets a player hand-pick each and every power earned as they level. The process can be incredibly tricky, with one wrong choice upsetting the whole character viability, not to mention that when all the right choices are made, characters can become extremely overpowered, which drags on the interaction experience.
More debatable are the effects of microtransactions in the game. Unlike many of the other MMOs I've played, the purchasing of content simply does not damage the ability to enjoy the game, since you don't have to make purchases to progress in the game. I have been playing for a little over four years and have not spent a single cent on it, and still I find it incredibly fun. The introduction of Questionite (or Q), lets players earn resources to purchase content with effort as opposed to a card number, which adds to the amount of time certain types of players put into the game. Not to mention the mission sets- once having to been paid for- that for the past year have been free for all to enjoy. The lockbox drops from enemies can get irritating, filling up one's inventory, and vehicles are still extremely over-powered in the game, but those downsides do not truly inhibit the average player's experience.
The last big issue seen as of late is the decline of large-scale content updates to the game. While numerous small things have been added- auras, new costume sets, new vehicles, etc.- there has been a notable lack of new missions and events for players to really participate in. It is unapparent when this update drought will end, but it does put a damper on the game for long-time players.
Champions Online is one of the most enjoyable games I've played in the last decade. It has a personality that has few competitors in the gaming world, lending in part to its roots in pen-and-paper RPG. It's beautiful, realitivly easy to play, and has a great slew of experiences for its players.
I can't give the game a proper number rating, since I tend to rate individual parts as opposed to the whole, but I will say this is possibly my favorite game in terms of MMOs.
+In-depth character creation.
+Smooth power designs.
+Microtransactions not a big deal.
-Archetypes get repeatitive.
-Overpowered players are common.
-Recent lack of big-scale content updates.