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Justice League Heroes
Score: 78%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Warner Brothers
Developer: Snowblind Studios
Media: UMD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/ RPG

Graphics & Sound:
It is a long-standing belief of mine that there will never be a really awesome game based on a DC property. As much as I anticipate any Superman or Batman game, I am always met with disappointment. Justice League Heroes is one of the better DC comics games I have played, although this is like saying a punch in the chest is better than a punch in the face – in the end, both hurt.

Even with a few downgrades, Justice League Heroes looks on par with the PS2 version. The heroes look like they should and some of their animations are really cool. Most of the game takes place in urban environments. There isn’t that much variety of things to see or enemies to fight, but overall most complaints are nitpicky.

Sound is generally good with a few hiccups. Heroes are fully voiced and sound good, except for Superman, whose voice matches his downgraded powers. Music is upbeat and doesn’t compete for your attention.

Justice League Heroes begins with the League responding to a series of random attacks, all of which turn out to be a diversion caused by Brainiac. The plot soon unfolds to reveal a much deeper plot that takes the group from Metropolis to Mars and even the JLA’s Watchtower. In addition to several members of the Justice League, other characters from the DC universe show up, including Gorilla Grood, the White Martians and Doomsday. The game’s story isn’t a great work of fiction, though for a comic book story it isn’t half bad.

Unlike other versions of the game, JLH is built as a single-player experience. At any given time, you are in control of two heroes, with direct control over one and A.I. picking up the slack with the other. Generally the A.I. isn’t bad, although there are times where you can get ahead of your partner and end up battling enemies alone while you wait for your partner to catch up. This isn’t too much of a problem though; if you get too far apart, your partner will automatically teleport to your location.

In the beginning, you are limited to seven of the JLA’s core members: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter and Zantanna. As you progress through the game, you’ll earn shields which you can spend to unlock other members like Aquaman, Black Canary and Supergirl. Early on, you have no control over which members you use, but later on you can take any two members you want.

For the most part, JLH is like any other dungeon hack. You spend a majority of your time slogging your way through hordes of aliens, robots and other things that want you dead. Every once in a while, you might have to save people, but even then you have to battle through an army of enemies.

Justice League Heroes isn’t difficult, but repetitive. This isn’t an uncommon problem when it comes to dungeon hacks, but when a majority of your roster is made up of indestructible superheroes, it gets boring. All of your characters regenerate health after a few seconds provided that you can find a safe spot to rest of a few seconds. Occasionally enemies will drop health power-ups, but it isn’t hard to find a safe spot unless you are facing a boss character.

Checkpoints are generously placed, making death more of an inconvenience. I never felt like death was a big issue. If I died, I just went back to the checkpoint and pushed on through. On the plus side, you never have to backtrack for 20 minutes after death, but at the same time it does add a tedious feel since you never get that innate feeling of accomplishment.

Game Mechanics:
Each of your heroes has a standard array of normal and strong attacks that make up their base arsenal. Attacks can be strung together to create combos, some of which are of the “dial-a-combo” variety; hit a certain combo and a pre-set attack plays out. Most of these combos look great, though it if an enemy dies halfway through the attack your character will still play through the entire attack.

The draw to JLH, or any superhero game, is using super powers. All of the heroes have their trademark abilities and are unique characters for the most part. Some powers, like Superman’s heat vision and Martian Manhunter’s psychic blast, are fundamentally the same, but you get the feeling that characters aren't just palette swapped versions of each other. At the same time, powers are under-powered and feel like they are swapped out spells from a fantasy game. Logically, Superman could more than likely take on a majority of JLH solo, but he is downgraded in the name of balance. Although they are still effective, it is just weird that characters are limited in their power-usage by meter. Green Lantern can only use his ring and Flash can only run fast when his “mana” is full.

In a way, I guess that’s a part of the reason that a lot of DC properties tend to not work as games. Most are so powerful that a game built around their true abilities wouldn’t be all that challenging.

As your characters level, you can spend points towards learning more powerful versions of each hero’s powers or increasing their stats. You can also find boosts in each level that will give you an added bonus.

JLH is a good game as far as superhero games go; it just feels underwhelming and bland at times -- especially when compared to the competing Marvel Ultimate Alliance. Still, Justice League Heroes is still a good game if you are a DC fan or someone looking for another portable dungeon hack.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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