Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Justice League Heroes

In the vast expanses of the Nerd Galaxy, video games and comic books are like two neighboring solar systems, the inhabitants of which are friendly to one another. Although they occasionally make fun of each other in secret, their intergalactic borders are open to one another. In recent months, I’ve grown increasingly interested in the worlds that my fellow nerds inhabit. More specifically, I’ve been examining the offerings of DC Comics. My adventures are outlined in greater detail here. It was only natural then that I seek out the cooperative contributions that are represented by comic book video games.

The game that I managed to get my hands on was Justice League Heroes from Snowblind Studios.

Justice League Heroes is all about taking control of a pair of your favorite Justice Leaguers (Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, the Flash, Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter, and Zatanna) and fighting your way through waves of enemies just like you would in dungeon crawls like Champions of Norrath (also developed by Snowblind Studios) and Diablo 2. Make no mistake, however, Justice League Heroes is nowhere near as addictive as the aforementioned games, and this can be attributed to the limited character customization and the understandable omission of loot-hunting. Nevertheless, you can unlock some cool alternate costumes as well as some guest characters (such as Green Arrow, Hawkgirl, Huntress, and Hal Jordan as Green Lantern… hurray!!!). My one problem with this is most levels force you to play with predetermined characters, which weakens the purpose of unlocking different heroes.

Both to its advantage and its detriment, Justice League Heroes has a pretty straightforward battle-system. Each hero has a quick punch, a strong punch, and a small battery of super powers, which are all relatively similar from hero to hero. However, there’s not much to the game other than that, and such a simplistic battle-system means that there’s really only one way to play the game. Toward the end of the game, pounding the circle button does get a little repetitive.

However, Justice League Heroes does manage to make good use of the license, borrowing a great deal of its attitude and presentation from the “Justice League Unlimited” animated series, which is greatly beloved as a part of the DC Animated Universe. However, this drew my attention to the fact that none of the voice actors from the show are present in the game. That’s not to say that the voice acting is bad; it’s just a little unsettling to hear Ron Pearlman as Batman instead of the iconic Kevin Conroy Batman that I grew up with.

The story in Justice League Heroes is a fairly predictable. Brainiac sends an army of expendable attack robots to a S.T.A.R. Labs facility in Metropolis to steal a meteorite. For several levels after that, you travel all over the world to fight against several B-list villains (like Queen Bee, the Key, and Killer Frost), which is quite obviously a diversionary tactics on Braniac’s behalf, but at least you're not fighting on the streets of Metropolis the whole time. Eventually, you uncover a greater conspiracy, which brings a few cool Villains to fight, but shortly thereafter the game ends.

In the end, I found Justice League Heroes to be a mostly-enjoyable 10-hour experience, if for no other reason than the empowering sensation that accompanies playing as my favorite DC Universe characters. If you can look past a few artistic liberties taken with the license, you’ll find a competent dungeon crawl that is easily one of the best DC comics games EVER!

Though that may not be saying much.

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