Justice League Heroes Review

By Brendon Lindsey, GN Senior Editor

My first experience playing Justice League Heroes was at this year’s Comic-Con. Taking over the role of Batman, I traversed the opening level of the game fighting against robots I assumed were evil, since the cinematics weren’t being shown. At the time, I was critical of the game, and said it would have some work to do if it wanted to beat Marvel Ultimate Alliance as the best superhero-oriented brawler to come out in October. While they did address a few issues, Heroes still suffers in a few critical areas, making the game average at best.

If you’ve ever played the X-Men Legends series (which, if you’re interested in this title, I’m guessing you have) you’ll be familiar with the basic gameplay for Heroes. You’ll find yourself controlling a member of the Justice League, and beating up the bad guys. There are two basic attacks—weak and quick—and at least four special attacks for each character. These attacks are activated by holding the L1 trigger, and pressing either circle, X, square, triangle or R1.

For the default characters in the game (Superman, Batman, Flash, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Zatanna and Martian Manhunter), the superpower attacks are nicely varied, and each character brings something different to the table. One issue I had with the game, however, was that in some cases, it seemed like special attacks were given just for the sake of having enough attacks. For example, Batman’s strongest attack involves him throwing a beacon at the enemy, which will summon a swarm of attacking bats. Beware, giant robot, for the swarm of bats is upon you!

In the case of other characters like Green Lantern, it seems like the number of special attacks really hinders their uniqueness—especially given the fact that the unlockable Green Lanterns (Hal and Kyle) have exactly the same repertoire of moves which John uses. While they are unlockable, it would have been nice to have some of the classics like the giant boxing glove for Hal, along with some more imaginative attacks for Kyle.

That brings me to one of my larger gripes with the game. In Heroes, there are several characters you can unlock by spending shields, which you collect as you battle your way through each level. The two Green Lanterns, Huntress, Hawkgirl, Aquaman and Green Arrow are the characters available to you through this method. The only problem is, most of their attacks are taken directly from a main character, or heavily inspired by it. While Aquaman and Green Arrow do have some very nice attacks (no boxing glove arrow, though), the other unlockables are really only visual changes from the other characters.

Speaking of characters, the problem which may cause most gamers to look over at Marvel’s direction is the fact that in most of the game, you can’t pick which hero you want to fight as. As the story unfolds, certain situations cause for certain heroes. This may not seem like a huge deal, but anyone who loves these kinds of games can testify how important character selection is. Not only does this force you to keep playing as characters you don’t like, but it means that until the latter half of the game, you can’t play with combinations you and your friend want to use. And remember those unlockable characters? Have fun with them, because there are very few situations you can utilize them in, and by the time you can use them, they’re not nearly as strong as the characters you’ve used the previous missions.

With an already limiting two-player maximum, taking away the ability to jump into any mission you want with any character really takes away from the replay value of the game—something that only hurts a game of this type. It would have been nice if you could select which character to use once you play through the game again, since Heroes gives you the option of starting over with the same stats, but alas it is not to be, as you find yourself once again forced to play with the characters the game assigns to you.

Graphically, Heroes looks fairly good. The special attacks look cool, and are fun to use. The villains do look very similar throughout the game, but to be fair, they are mostly from the same source, so it’s not too big of a stretch. The cutscenes do look a little dated, and some of the characters (Flash especially) look much older than they do in their respective comics, or the Justice League cartoon.

One of the first things I noticed when I started up the game was Batman’s voice. To fans of the DCAU for the past decade, Batman is, and always will be, Kevin Conroy. In Heroes, however, he’s voiced by Ron Perlman. I don’t mean to badmouth Perlman, as he’s one of my favorite actors, but he is no Batman, and there are times when you really wish Batman wouldn’t talk at all. To be fair, most of the other voices in the game are done fairly well. Crispin Freeman takes the role of Superman, and does an admirable job of living up to Tim Daly and George Newbern as the new voice of the Man of Steel. Ralph Garman is also in the game, handling the role of Green Arrow. While limited in playtime, Green Arrow has some of the most memorable lines in Heroes, and Garman does a great job capturing the spirit of Ollie.

Music-wise, one of the things lacking from the title is the huge, epic soundtrack associated with the DCAU cartoons. From the Batman: TAS theme to the latest Justice League Unlimited score, the DCAU has been home to some of the greatest composers in modern television, and it would have been nice to have some of that present in the game to really bring the story home.

In the end, Justice League Heroes is a good game, which suffers from a few setbacks. The lack of character selection throughout most of the game, the limit of two-players, and a few frustrating moments when special attacks decide not to work take away from what could have been a stellar superhero title. The story in the game is decent, but nothing as well-done as the recent storylines from JLU. Given the fact that one of the major points of advertisement for the title is the involvement of comic writer Dwayne McDuffie, the story should have been much better.

If you’re a huge fan of the Justice League, you may find more entertainment in this title than someone not affiliated with the heroes. On the other hand, true fans will be the ones most likely to become frustrated by Justice League Heroes‘ shortcomings. It really does come down to what you’re looking for, and what you’re willing to put up with in order to play through the game.


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Author: Brendon Lindsey View all posts by

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