Justice League Heroes, Review PS2, Eidos
Seemingly every summer blockbuster now contains a superhero and there have been numerous superhero based computer games over the years, however many have fallen short of the mark in terms of fun factor and quality.
Justice League Heroes delves into DC Comics catalogue of superheroes and delivers a new action RPG. The game is not based on one particular character or film tie-in however instead it lets you assume the role of a number of DC's best known heroes/heroines.
The main characters all appear as colourful, well drawn representations of their comic book counterparts. Animations of combat and special moves are all fluid and unique for each character and each move in their own distinct ways.
While the character models are good I felt that the environments were a big let down, often bland and repetitive usually in a monochrome grey concrete colour.
While not completely offensive the graphics just lacked that level of polish and finesse that should be standard on the ageing PS2, on which developers should have more than enough experience to squeeze every inch of graphical power out of the tried and tested machine.
Music in the game is unmemorable, but appropriate most of the time. The voice acting is actually quite good for the most part; Superman sounds like the goody two shoes golden boy and Batman much grittier and darker hero. One minor annoyance is the level of repetition of each character's catchphrase when they hit the various special moves. `Man of Steel', `Man of Steel' etc..
The game-play starts out with you, (or you and a friend) assuming the roles of Batman and Superman. Each level sees you face waves of attacking robots/enemies, smashing them to pieces, pulling up lamp posts, throwing cars and generally causing mayhem until you reach the end of level boss. This is a tried and tested formula but one that works very well.
On your own you can change between the two characters whereas co-op is best suited to sticking with a character each and ploughing on.
The game contains seven immediately playable character and another six being un-lockable and also a number of costume changes for each character which not only change the appearance but also some of the character's traits.
Most of the characters will be recognisable to the general public, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and the Flash however others are less well known unless you are a dedicated DC Comic fan.
What I really liked about the game is that you are forced to play the characters very differently because their strengths and weaknesses resulting from their specific powers. Each character has a number of specific superpowers which can be upgraded as you progress through the game and these powers dictate how you need to play i.e. Superman is immensely strong and can fly has heat rays and ice breath - therefore you can pile in with melee attacks and pick up anything on screen that moves. In contrast Flash is much quicker but less powerful and you have to hit and run more. You have to become proficient with all of the core character as you have to use each of them at least twice during the main game. Most of the available superpowers are useful however inevitably you will find some are easier to aim/use than others.
The customisation/RPG element of the game is fairly basic but well executed allowing you to tinker with each power in terms of energy cost of using the power or increasing effectiveness/duration of each power. It is very open-ended and you can customise in a way that suits your style of play.
Boss battles are fun but again nothing groundbreaking - generally once you have learned the pattern and what powers work you will rinse and repeat until the boss dies.
Unfortunately there are a few points that knock this game down a few marks - firstly the latter parts of the game feel rushed. Unusually later levels feel shorter than earlier ones and seem more repetitive. Also I got the feeling that the game was cut short - the cut-scenes allude to other story branches which in the end are missed out.
Although it feels that certain levels hit the cutting room floor the game is a decent length and a decent challenge made even more fun in co-op mode. You also have the option to revisit completed levels using other characters which adds some replay to the game.
This is a fun game which offers a decent challenge made better by the inclusion of a co-op mode. While not in anyway earth shattering in terms of graphics or game-play it is worth picking up if you are a comic fan or a lover of action RPGs.
Overall I give Justice League Heroes....
6.5 out of 10