|Justice League: Heroes|
|Developer: Snowblind Studios
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive
Release Date: Out Now
One of the lesser-known comic teams were in fact a combination of some quite famous ones; The Justice League consisted of such DC favourites as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash and then some unknowns like Martian Manhunter, Zatanna and the Green Lantern. They keep an eye on the Earth from a handy base on the Moon called the Watchtower, like some kind of superhero Jehovah’s Witnesses.
In Justice League Heroes you’re given the chance to play as any of the super-people above but also several unlockable bit-players in a bid to stop the downright nasty nemesis Brainiac after he generally unleashes havoc on the Earth. The game plays as a top-down scrolling beat ‘em up with two heroes on-screen at all times, the other either controlled by the AI or a second player, meaning you can play through the game co-op with a friend!
The gameplay isn’t too taxing; you have basic attacks and some characters can fly but the real fun comes in the special powers mapped to the buttons after holding down the L1 button, which include everything from Superman’s laser eyes to a super-fast pinball attack by the Flash. These become essential in some sections where you’re totally surrounded and also take the edge off the boss battles.
The combat, although simple is admittedly very fun, especially when playing co-op with a mate. If you’re one of the stronger characters you can pick up pretty much anything, from trucks to lamp posts and trees (even enemies themselves if you stun them!). Lots of things littering the area can be thrown or destroyed, making for a fun interactive world. The characters compliment each other; one usually being suited for close muscle-work while the other uses their powers from the background. The feeling that you’re controlling superheroes is definitely there and is great to rampage around the city with a mate stomping any baddie that moves!
The enemies don’t really vary all that much over the course of the game; you fight a lot of robots, bees, clones and apes. These never vary in their type and attacks, whatever form they take - one will shoot from a distance, one will use close combat and one will have a flame-thrower… surely great supervillains would make a little more effort to stop superheroes than chucking hundreds of idiots at them… Oh wait, they have!
The bosses in Heroes are simple but very time-consuming; you’ll figure out how to damage them inside of a minute and it’s just a case of going through the motions for another ten, praying that you don’t accidentally get hit by the boss and put out of your rhythm. One boss, the Bee Queen had some targeting laser which would follow you across the screen and launch missiles. Both of you would fly away as quickly as possible but the game doesn’t let you stray too far from each other and the lagging player always ends up getting hit. Great.
Another problem with Heroes is the uneven balance of the characters. As you would think, some superheroes are obviously more super than others: however many geeks argue that Batman couldn’t beat up Superman you have to admit that by being bulletproof, having laser eyes, light-speed travel and super strength make Superman a good bet.
In Heroes it’s more obvious - none of Batman’s specials do any real damage and Martian Manhunter’s not really one of the best characters either. On the other hand Zatanna, who looks like Hugh Hefner’s Magician, can shoot off a fireball which does quite a bit of damage and costs chuff-all ‘super-energy’ when levelled up, even though Batman could probably beat the tits off of her.
Luckily we didn’t choose any of the slightly crap extra heroes and stuck to the main ones. This meant that as the game went on, especially with a couple of the characters, we were simply powering through the level taking hardly any damage at all, which is almost as frustrating as having underpowered heroes…
Justice League: Heroes is a competent beat ‘em up with a bit of a brain and some destructive flair. Apart from the X-Men game for Megadrive it’s the best comic book beat ‘em up I’ve played and it does go a long way to making you feel like you’re playing as a Superhero. Unfortunately the gameplay is rather restricted compared to something like Spider-Man and doesn’t vary all that much - without a friend to run the game through with you could find yourself getting bored quite quickly. Although it may not win any originality awards despite being released at a time when it shouldn’t be worthy of purchase (the PS3 looms ever nearer), Heroes is a game that’ll put a smile on your face with simple manly gameplay: smashing stuff. A lot of stuff.
- Feels like a Superhero game
- Great interactive environment
- Tidy graphics
- Fun super attacks
- Co-op mode
- Gameplay gets a little stale, especially on your own
- Penalises you for playing as lesser-known characters
- Batman is pants