Publisher: Eidos/Warner Brothers
Release Date: Fall 2006
This is Snowblind’s last hurrah on the PS2 and Xbox, and they’re trying to go out with a bang. Justice League Heroes is a two-player beat-‘em-up running on the fifth version of Snowblind’s famous beat-‘em-up engine, allowing you to step into the shoes of the members of the Justice League of America.
The game’s more based upon the comics’ version of the Justice League than the cartoon’s; for example, the JLA’s Watchtower is a lunar station rather than a satellite. You’ll be able to play initially with Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern (specifically, John Stewart), Martian Manhunter, and Zatanna, with plenty of extra costumes and unlockable characters, such as Green Arrow.
Comics writer Dwayne McDuffie (Static, as well as many episodes of “Justice League”) provides Heroes’s story. When a meteorite crashes to Earth, Superman’s enemy Brainiac is drawn to it by its unique energy signature. To fully analyze it, he’ll need equipment that can only be found in the JLA’s Watchtower, so he mounts an assault. Hilarity, of course, ensues.
Each of the seven characters in Justice League Heroes has a unique and customizable moveset based upon their powers, in the typical Snowblind way; as you level up, you can opt to place points into each of your character’s abilities, gaining new ones or improving old ones as you see fit.
No powers have been duplicated in the game, and each character has their own set of unique animations, right down to little things like the block button; Green Lantern creates a shield, while Flash tries to vibrate out of the way of incoming attacks.
Superman has access to his superbreath, heat vision, and punishing melee attacks, while Batman has several gadgets that allow him to daze enemies or move around the battlefield. Green Lantern can defend himself with a dome of energy, hem opponents in with a force cage, or simply fire off plasma bursts; Wonder Woman can use wrestling moves, her lasso, or her tiara; and Flash can move at superhuman speed, augmenting his melee attacks or leveling a group of enemies at once with a tornado. Martian Manhunter and Zatanna both have the most interesting and varied powers; he can shapeshift, fire mental blasts, or turn intangible, while she can transform enemies into rabbits or slow down time.
You can also acquire “boosts,” special items that you can slot into your powers to give special effects. A Luck Boost, for instance, can be added to an offensive power to raise the chances of a critical hit. You can also load your extra boosts into your Boost Generator, to hopefully create a new and more powerful boost.
Beyond your usual powers, the environments are totally destructible, allowing superhumanly strong characters to pick up lampposts, cars, enemies, or other bits of local debris. After all, what’s a superhero game if you can’t chuck a taxicab at someone?
In the main story mode, you can play cooperatively with a friend, or switch at any time between two characters, as determined by the story mission you’re currently in. For instance, a level based in orbit is limited to those characters who can survive in space. Your character selection may also be determined by the story; unlike, say, X-Men Legends, Snowblind’s gone to the trouble to write character-specific dialogue in each stage.
The story seems on track with the Justice League’s greatest adventures, with a nod towards Grant Morrison’s run on the books, and the development team has already proved their chops in this genre with half a dozen of the most addictive beat-‘em-ups in the current generation. Justice League Heroes seems like a fairly sure bet at this point.
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