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Justice League Heroes
Score: 95%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Warner Brothers
Developer: Snowblind Studios
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Action/ Adventure/ Themed

Graphics & Sound:
Justice League Heroes... Gauntlet in the DC universe. Need I say more.

Both the in-game action and cinematics of Heroes puts the JLA in a light the likes of which you have never seen before. While in the middle of the action, the heroes themselves come off very nicely and though you don't get a whole lot of detail from the very removed camera angle, the iconic suits and color schemes are all you really need. Meanwhile, the close-up story building FMVs are stunning and though the game doesn't really take on a comic book style, it still has a good overall feel.

The game's voicework is also fairly solid. Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman's voices sound just right, and although I have never imagined how characters like Zatanna or the Martian Manhunter sound, the way they are portrayed in the movie clips seem to fit nicely. In-game comments is a place where Heroes's audio takes a hit. The game simply falls into the classic problem of not having enough comments. During a level, you will hear your two characters shout out the same five or six comments over and over again, and this got to be aggravating really quickly.


Gameplay:
Justice League Heroes gives you control of the world's finest as pairs of super heroes from Justice League America fight off waves of out-of-control robots and fierce aliens. Early on, it becomes clear that Brainiac, the twisted super-computer from Superman's home world of Krypton, has set some new diabolical plan into action. With the theft of a meteor rock and some Kryptonian DNA, the JLA will have to be on guard for whatever the mechanical monstrosity will throw at them. But it seems Brainiac isn't working alone. Some dark figure seems to be pulling the criminal computer's electronic strings. It will take all of the JLA members, as well as cameos from other heroes like Supergirl and Aquaman, to take down not only Braniac, but also Doomsday, Killer Frost, Queen Bee and other major enemies from the DC comics.

Levels consist of two JLA members going out and tearing up enemy after enemy as the work their way to a huge boss battle. Along the way, they will have to destroy devices that spawn enemies and gather various orbs to level up. Like I said at the beginning, Gauntlet. During the game, you can use the orbs you've collected to increase the effectiveness of your heroes' various special abilities. This system reminded me a lot of the way your Force powers were leveled up in Star Wars Episode III, and seems to work pretty well here as well.

The playable heroes include not only the Dark Knight and Man of Steel, but also Wonder Woman, The Green Lantern, Flash, The Martian Manhunter and Zatanna. Each hero's special abilities come off loud and clear in the game. As Batman, you can fling Batarangs or as Flash you can unleash a "pinball" attack that has you bouncing from enemy to enemy in a chained offensive move.

There are also tons of objects littering the world that are either destructible or movable. But, not everyone can move every object. For instance, even though Superman can pick up a car and use it to hit enemies, Batman isn't strong enough to lift it up. This was a nice detail that just shows these aren't the same character with different skins and different animations. Each one really does feel like the DC hero it is portraying.


Difficulty:
Justice League Heroes's difficulty seemed to fit fairly well with the game's overall progression. As stronger enemies showed up, I found that I was leveling up my characters at about the same time. So being able to plow through several sections of a level with little difficulty, only to be forced to respawn a couple of times when a new type of enemy was introduced, was fairly common for the game.

It seemed like the game kept the difficulty setting just above my character's current skill level so it was always work going from one end of a mission to the next, but it was never so out of reach that I had to put the game down. Quite the contrary actually.


Game Mechanics:
Keeping with the very Gauntlet feel, Justice League Heroes's controls and mechanics are very simple and easy to pick up. Justice League always has two characters on the screen and a single player can jump from one hero to the next at anytime by pressing Up on the D-Pad, or a second player can pop in or out just by pressing Start on the second controller.

When in single player mode, you can change your supporting hero's basic A.I. by tapping Right or Left on the D-Pad and telling the character to be offensive (actively go after enemies) or defensive (stick close to you and only attack when you attack ... great for boss battles).

Your standard quick attack, strong attack and jumping moves are done with the face buttons (X, Circle, and Triangle respectively). You can use a hero's special power by holding down the L1 button and selecting an attack based on the four face buttons. Everything from Superman's heat vision to the Flash's whirlwind is accessible if you have enough energy, of course.

Justice League Heroes is a great hack-and-slash that uses a proven gameplay style and characters (both good and bad) that comic fans will love to control. This is a good buy for anyone who loves DC characters and/or eats Gauntlet-like games for breakfast.


-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

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