|Justice League Heroes (2006)
Available for: Xbox, PlayStation 2
It’s nearly impossible to pick up a superhero-based game and not be biased. You’re basically either a Marvel or DC fan. And even if you happen to like both, you generally have a leaning towards one over the other. For me, the choice has always been Marvel. Cooler heroes, better bad guys, and just an all-around better sense of style and writing in general. Granted, DC Comics did catch me for a while back in the early ‘90s with their Vertigo imprint, but it’s been years since I’ve even read one of those titles. But the point is Spider-Man rules and Batman drools.
So now you have the choice once again, gamers. Will you check out the wonders of “Marvel Ultimate Alliance” or place your bets on “Justice League Heroes”? Both games have a similar button mashing, beat ‘em up quality. Both have a lot of everyone’s favorite heroes and villains. Both of them look like they have much potential on the surface. But in the end, “Justice League Heroes” pales in comparison, another letdown from the hallowed DC halls. After all, we are talking about heroes that were also part of the terrible “Super Friends” collective.
In typical classic comic book fashion, “Justice League Heroes” revolves around a storyline involving a meteor crash. The Justice League retrieves the meteor, but super villain Brainiac begins to receive direct-thought messages from it. Obviously, Brainiac wants to grab the meteor for himself, but must figure out a way to reach the moon, home of the Justice League headquarters (The Watchtower), and retrieve it to wreak universal havoc. Prepare thy finger for button mashing and object collection!
Truth be told, the button mashing for up front combat isn’t what deals the biggest blows here. That would instead come from the Justice League heroes’ super powers. Still, that doesn’t make the game any less repetitive and relatively easy to work your way through. While visually impressive, the execution of the special powers begins to grind on rather quickly, making the hand-to-hand combat seem like a welcome diversion. If only a decent balance could have been struck, the basic gameplay wouldn’t feel so stale after only a short time.
Playable characters include Batman, Superman, Flash, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter, and Zatanna up front. Unlockable heroes include the ever-popular Aquaman (hooray), Green Arrow (even better), and Hawkgirl (why), among others. Yes, that is indeed sarcasm, but again, it’s all about that bias that comes into play. Has Aquaman or Green Arrow ever really been a cool character? And Hawkgirl always seemed like small potatoes compared to the already second-rate Hawkman. At any rate, players will be gathering up tokens during their battles to unlock extra costumes. Well, you gotta have something to keep going, I suppose.
But wait, there’s the completely unbalanced character development as well! “Justice League Heroes” is one of those titles that basically makes you play certain characters for the most part. Eventually, players can unlock and play as other heroes, but it matters not. The game will once again force its ways upon you, and if you haven’t leveled up one of the characters it does decide you have to play because you’ve been building up your stats as someone else…too bad! Prepare to get your ass kicked quick. It’s a frustrating flaw in the game, and something that makes the overall experience feel like it’s on a track, instead of allowing the player to have what should be free and ultimate control over whom he or she wants to play as.
In the end, “Justice League Heroes” at least looks good, with sharp player models and relatively cool environments and game maps. Yet there are the occasional dropped framerates and other minor bugs that should have been ironed out before the release. But hey, what can you expect from a group that once had Wendy and Marvin and The Wonder Twins as part of its franchise? It’s just too bad that Ted Knight isn’t still alive so he could have narrated this game. That alone could have possibly upgraded the experience and rating slightly.