Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Now playing...

…Justice League Heroes for the PS2.

When not writing, playing with my kids, or spending time with my beloved spouse, I like to get in a good video game or three (big surprise there, huh?). Despite my preference for the classics, I do enjoy the open-ended pleasures and adventure-laden aspects of modern gaming, especially when the game’s objectives and mapping system are clearly defined (meaning I don’t get lost or otherwise befuddled). Justice League Heroes for the PlayStation 2 is one such game. Not only is it accessible and entertaining, it stars Superman, Batman, The Martian Manhunter, Zatanna, The Flash, Green Lantern, and Wonder Woman as playable characters, plus other DC heroes that can be unlocked (including Hawkgirl and Green Arrow) as the action progresses.

Although gameplay tends to be a bit too similar to X-Men Legends (overhead viewpoint, the ability to switch between heroes), Justice League Heroes is nevertheless great fun. Each character has five of his or her own super powers, such as Superman’s heat vision and Zatanna’s fire bolts, the latter of which are a blast to use against the hoards of assault bots, bee creatures, super-villains, Martians, and other enemies that populate the game’s 11 levels of play (Metropolis, Gorilla City, Brainiac’s Lair, etc.). The melee-style combat is rewarding in and of itself, but the ability to customize and upgrade your super-team gives a level of depth to what is, admittedly, a fairly shallow game. The plot is simplistic, which is a bit of a surprise since it was written by Dwayne McDuffie, and the levels are short on hidden items.

As in X-Men Legends, Justice League Heroes allows a second gamer to join in on the fun. The camera can be problematic at times in two-player mode, but pairing up to thwart the forces of evil remains an engaging endeavor. X-men Legends boasts four onscreen-heroes simultaneously (two or three of the characters are controlled by the computer), but I actually prefer running with two heroes--the action seems less cluttered that way. From a purely visual standpoint, Justice League Heroes exhibits rich coloring and detail, and the load screens (yes, the load screens) are perhaps the coolest I’ve ever seen.

Only the fifth Justice League video game ever produced (along with Justice League Task Force, Justice League: Injustice For All, Justice League Chronicles, and Justice League Heroes: The Flash), Justice League Heroes is easily worth its newly reduced price of $20 (down from $40 upon release), especially for fans of The World’s Greatest Super-Hero Team.

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