For years, DC and Marvel fans have argued over which comic books were the best. While Marvel boasts such characters as Spider-Man and Wolverine, DC’s Superman and Batman have been around since the 30's. This rivalry has spread to cartoons and even the silver screen. However, it seems that the next battle will be fought on video game consoles.
Developer Raven Software’s X-Men Legends and Marvel Ultimate Alliance games have used the licenses given to them to construct solid top-down brawlers. It was only a matter of time until DC fired back. By enlisting Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance developer Snowblind, Justice League Heroes takes the famous superhero group through various missions and locales.
JLH’s story starts out simple, but eventually evolves into something much more. Basically, a meteor hits Earth, and bad stuff starts to happen. It’s up to the likes of Batman, Superman, and some other guys to save the world. Along the way, they fight various DC baddies, such as one of Superman’s greatest enemies, Brainiac.
The gameplay is simple, yet fun. More or less, all you’re doing is punching and kicking your way through a variety of levels and locations, while leveling up your various stats. However, the various superheroes’ powers help spice the action up a lot, especially Zatanna’s ability to turn enemies into rabbits, and the Green Lantern’s power, that boxes a bad guy into a cage. While a few more powers would have added to the variety, what is there is done very well. Also, your partner’s AI could be a lot better, especially during certain parts of the game. Of course, this is rectified by playing the game with a friend on co-op, but Snowblind has to realize that the majority of people who play this game will do so solo. Also, co-op should have been expanded to include four players. You have more than a dozen playable characters. Why not allow four of them to be on the screen at once? That would add to the whole “team-up” aspect of the Justice League. However, my biggest problem with JLH’s gameplay is with the enemies that you fight. They all seem to be the exact same foe every time. Yeah, they often look different, and some of them even gain the ability to fly around, but by the end of the game, I had a “been there, done that” feeling. With a game that boasts a pretty good collection of heroes, it would have been nice to see more of a variety in their enemies.
Speaking of these heroes, the Justice League team consists of easily recognizable characters, such as Batman, Superman, and The Flash, to characters that only diehard fans will know, like Martian Manhunter and Hawkgirl. While seven Justice Leaguers are available from the get go, six more members are available to purchase by collecting “money” during the game.
While you may have dreams of playing through this entire adventure as a couple of your favorite characters, unfortunately, JLH does not allow you to do that. A lot of the missions in this game force you to use a pair of characters, whether they have been leveled up or not. This causes a lot of problems, since during the missions that gave you a choice of who to use, I would always use a character that I really liked, not knowing that the latter parts of the game would make me use an underleveled hero.
Presentation wise, JLH does not disappoint. The graphics are topnotch, with great environments and character models. The alternate outfits for the heroes are also very cool, and even change the character’s animations a bit. There is some slowdown, but not enough to hamper the experience. As for sound, the music is decent enough to not get boring, and the voices are done pretty well. Hellboy himself (Ron Perlman) voices Batman, and Jennifer Hale (of Metal Gear Solid and Star Wars KOTOR fame) does Black Canary. As for the sound effects, it has the “bang-crash-boom” noises that you would expect, although more sounds could have been used to add to the game’s atmosphere.
All in all, Justice League fans will eat this title up. With a great roster of characters, a good story (written by Justice League Unlimited writer Dwayne McDuffie), solid presentation, and some cool stuff to unlock, JLH’s average gameplay can be overlooked. It may not be as solid as Raven’s X-Men Legends titles, but DC fans needed a game like this, and Snowblind came through. Hopefully, a next-gen sequel can take this premise and build on it.
Gameplay- The enemies all feel the same, it’s only two player, and more superpowers would have been nice. However, what powers JLH has are well-done, and the final boss battle is really great. Just make sure you level up every character!- 7
Sound- The music gets the job done, and the voices, whether famous or otherwise, do a good job. More sounds could have been used to add to the game’s atmosphere, but that’s a minor nitpick.- 8
Graphics- The environments look good, and the character models do the classic DC heroes justice. Some slowdown does occur, but it never gets too bad.- 8
Value- This is a game that you’ll play to death for a week, let it collect dust for six months, then go back to it and unlock everything you missed the first time through. Co-op play adds some replay value, although online play would have made a difference.- 7
Curve- It’s not as solid as X-Men Legends or Marvel Ultimate Alliance, but if you are a DC fan, you’ll dig it.-7