Justice League Heroes finally provides the outlet that DC fans have wanted for a long time, a well rounded comic book experience with a large roster of characters from the DC universe. Marvel might have the spoils of a few X-Men Legend games, but the DC revolution has just started. I'm gladly taking a look at Warner Brothers Interactive and Snowblind Studio's Justice League Heroes.
Justice League Heroes brings the pages of the DC comics to life with an adequate comic-esq. adventure featuring seven characters, a few unlockables, and a nasty group of villains led by the alien Brainiac. It's up to the player to defeat Brainiac and his cronies, and save the world along the way. If you're not familiar with DC Comics you might be thinking, who is Brainiac? He isn't that bald Luther guy? or The Joker. Brainiac might not be the most well know villain in the comic world, but Brainiac holds his own, and is one of the most intelligent villains in the DC universe. Brainiac, along with his allies are a formidable threat for the Justice League team, even with the heavy hitter Superman on board.
The cover art of Justice League Heroes highlights Batman and Superman, but in the shadows lurk other characters that haven't had the chance to shine, in gaming, or amongst the stars in Hollywood. The characters that align themselves with the Justice Leagues include the above mentioned Batman and Superman, then Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern, Zatanna and Martian Manhunter. Aside from these main characters you can also purchase an assortment of unlockable characters. The unlockable characters are Aquaman, Hawkgirl, Green Arrow, and The Huntress. If you're a fan of Black Canary, and Supergirl, you will have to seek out the PSP version of Justice League Heroes. It's good to see these characters in a game, it's been a while for a lot of them, and for some others its their first time appearing in game form. Out of all the characters from over the years, Warner and Snowblind gathered a welcomed group together to make Justice League Heroes one of the most impressive comic book teams ever assembled.
Justice League Heroes also features a list of unlockables features including several alternative costumes for the seven main characters. DC Fans will recognize most of the included costumes and even if you don't it a nice option to be able to switch up your characters look. You can also customize your characters abilities and balance each characters powers and stats to your style of play. If you find yourself using one power more than the other, you can simply boost it, maximizing its effectiveness. In Superman's case I was a fan of the heat vision, so immediately I focused all my experience points on boosting his heat visions range and power.
The skill boosting system in JLH is very unique because your putting orbs into your selected power to boost its base properties. For example if you add extra damage orbs to your punch it will get stronger, or if you add luck to your hand to hand combat power, you will increase the chance of getting a critical strike. JLH even goes one further by letting you combine these orbs by placing any three and combining them. This way you can increase the effectiveness of the boost, maximizing its gain. With all the options that are open to the player for customizing your stats there is enough reason to warrant another play through. The experience would be basically the same, but the way you play the game can be altered to try out different possibilities.
For the first half of JLH you will have to make due with teamed up pairs, which acts as a good opportunity to learn each characters intricacies. It's not until later on that you get to mix and match you team mates. Unfortunately, you never have more than two characters active at once which might seem a little dull given the speed the game moves. I also found problems with the A.I. at times during combat where they would just stand around in front of an enemy without any ambition to fight. In the beginning of the game before my characters gained experience, I found my partner getting killed frequently, which really didn't slow my progress. To be the most effective in the game I found myself frequently switching between characters saving them from death constantly. This doesn't hinder Justice League Heroes, or make it unplayable, it's just more of a little annoyance that you have to baby sit the other characters so much.
Writer and producer Dwayne McDuffie seemed to have a good balance between cut-scenes, action, and boss battles, although you can generally feel when the boss battle is coming up ahead. The game as a whole doesn't really get overly interesting, but the adventure is good enough to keep your interest. Justice League Heroes is really a dungeon crawl styled game wearing super hero tights instead of heavy dwarven armor. I liked some the character focused missions more than others, but that is bound to happen. Snowblind Studios really did their best without splitting up the characters individually, and from a readers perspective it's always fun to see a unique team like Wonder Woman and Superman fighting in outer space.
One aspect of JLH that really pushes the value of this game is the co-op multiplayer mode. Playing the campaign with a friend is more enjoyable then with the lacking computer A.I. Like, other similar games, it seems that the developers almost count on you bringing a friend in on the action. If you have two DC fans in the room, the conversations and tactics can get pretty interesting. Justice League Heroes is a great excuse for you and a friend to nerd out on comic talk for a night.
The graphics in Justice League Heroes have a high attention to detail which goes for a strong majority of the environments and the lead characters. I was impressed on various costumes, along with the characters animations, the characters detailed faces, and environment damage like hot dogs falling off the stand when you crash into it. The little things add up in Justice League Heroes and keep it on par with the last run of current gen games. You'll also be able to run the game in 720p wide screen which is perfect for those used to the Xbox 360. Although, it would be nice to slip JLH into your 360, back wards compatibility hasn't been worked out for Justice League Heroes, so if your waiting to play this on your 360, I'm sure its going to be a while.
For the audio we have a consistent average quality running through JLH. The characters seem to match their personalities, Ron Perlman as Batman, and Daniel Roirdan as the Martian Manhunter do an exceptional job. The writing helps out as well by betting well written, witty and even funny at times. The other effects like explosions, special powers, and other ambiance effects are alright, but really didn't seem to pop. Overall, the production on Justice League Heroes holds up to what we've come to expect out of the Xbox system which will hopefully be reinvented for the next generation.
Justice League Heroes breaks the mold when it dealing with DC's past history of below average DC games. There are a few problems in the A.I., and repetitive gameplay, but in the end there is a lot of fun to be had. If you are into the Co-Operative mode with a friend or by yourself, you mostly likely will be wrapped up until justice has been served. It's great to play as a few of these characters like The Flash and Green Arrow, since I haven't had the chance to use them in a game before. If for nothing else you'll be into Justice League Heroes just to run around as your favorite characters, experimenting with their powers.
Justice League Heroes has plenty of extra reasons to revisit the game, although ultimately it seems a little light compared to its most comparable competition, Marvel Ultimate Alliance. If you're into comics then you have to check out Justice League Heroes to see how the other side of the comic world rolls and hopefully this marks the beginning of the gaming chronicles of the Justice League.
Game: 7, Graphics/Sound: 7.5, Innovation: 6.5, Mojo: 8.5 Final: 7.5 / 10
Reviewed by DowntownJimmy - 11.13.06