The fifth generation of the Snowblind engine is looking better than ever. It started out in the likes of games such as Baldur’s Gate and now it has worked its way into the superhero scheme. The Snowblind engine, built by the Snowblind team, is the driving force behind the upcoming Justice League Heroes. Warner Bros. Interactive is giving gamers an alternate taste of Activision’s Marvel Ultimate Alliance, with the boys and girls from DC. The incomparable Superman, Batman, Zantanna, Martian Hunter, and Wonder Woman are just a few of the names that make the list of playable heroes in this game.
As far as the story goes, a meteor crashes into earth, emitting a signal only Brainiac can pick-up. The message tells Brainiac that to unlock the secrets of the universe he must first acquire the “key. It just so happens that the “key” is located in the Justice League Hero Watchtower. So it’s up to the Justice League Heroes to stop Brainiac and his evil Martian robots from breaking through and claiming the key for themselves.
Justice League Heroes, like Ravensoft’s previous X-Men iterations, is an action-RPG that gives gamers the opportunity to play with, upgrade, and enhance their favorite superhero. The real gimmick to this game, as opposed to other superhero games, is that Justice League Heroes doesn’t compromise the hero’s powers for the sake of being a game. There are no health potions for Superman to pick up, or power-up icons for someone like the Flash to retrieve in order to run faster. Instead, JLH starts the heroes with their respective powers and offers players the option to upgrade them even further. So at the start of the game, Superman will always be able to pickup and throw cars around, and the Green Lantern will always be able to use his magical ring for offensive and defensive measures. Added to that, if a hero receives too much damage, all they have to do is stop and catch their breath for a while to recharge their life.
The actual game can be played with one or two players simultaneously, and the action is in a semi-isometric view to give players a good take on the beat ‘em up action. In addition to using their powers, certain heroes can manipulate or interact with the environment to their advantage. Heroes like Wonder Woman, Superman, or the Green Lantern can pick up, move, or throw environmental objects. Such objects may include mailboxes, trash cans, benches, cars, or even trucks. Each stage can be mangled and destroyed for no other reason than to kick bad guy butt.
Each playable character will also have characteristics according to their iconic persona. Staying the course to a game that keeps things true, each character will perform their respective special moves and powers accordingly. Superman, for instance, will stick his chest out to block incoming attacks, while the Flash might use his speed to dodge/block an attack. The same applies for unlocking new costumes for each character. Instead of being simple “skin” jobs, with basic outfit overlays, JLH will feature new model files for alternate costumes for each character. Adjusting and adding new powers is also going to be a novel affair, as each hero will have the option of upgrading existing skills or adding a new ones to the cache. Snowblind Studios has even taken the liberty to toss in extra hidden characters for players to unlock, which should definitely further add to the replay value of the game.
For those wondering how a game like this will work with characters like Batman or Superman, a ground-based hero and a flying hero, Snowblind has incorporated a neat counter-measure. Flying characters can fly; however, the screen rotates enough to keep the flying characters within range with a ground-based hero as well. JLH has also had some proper physics integrated with this scheme as well. If a flying character picks something up on the ground and flies into the air with it, the extra height will cause it to do more damage upon impact against a ground enemy. The gameplay goes even deeper; teamwork is a significant factor and is open-ended, meaning you can try multiple scenarios, having no preset team-up powers. You can try using Green Lantern’s powers to hold an enemy in place while Superman comes in with a devastating uppercut. Or you can have the Flash run circles around an enemy to dizzy them and have Batman come in for some quick footwork. The variances are there for you to experiment with.