LOS ANGELES--Today at the Warner Brothers booth, we were able to go hands-on with Justice League Heroes, the new Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance-esque action RPG from Snowblind Studios. We're pleased to say that the game is seemingly coming along quite well, with a neat mixture of classic Justice League powers and isometric enemy-bashing.
If you've played previous Snowblind games, then you're probably pretty familiar with how JLH plays out. You control one of the seven members of the JLA from a top-down perspective as they battle the forces of evil and attempt to upgrade their powers. (For the record, that's Zatanna, Wonder Woman, the Martian Manhunter, Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, and The Flash.) We managed to play through as both Superman and Batman, and came back with these impressions.
As you wander through the levels, you'll obviously encounter plenty of enemies to attack. The demo levels that were on display here seem to be populated with a preponderance of robotic foes of a mostly unrecognizable design. Your special attacks differ based on the character you control, of course, but each character appears to have a standard punch, a kick, a blocking move, and a jump. Each character can double-jump, with a second jump resulting in a few moments of flight when you're controlling Superman, and a gliding animation when it's Batman.
So far as special attacks go, we didn't get to see many of these, since you have to unlock more of them as you proceed and level up with experience, which you gain when you fight enemies. However, we did get to try out Batman's attacks, which include a batarang throw, as well as a grappling hook attack, which causes him to shoot out a cord that is implanted in your target. After it hits, Bats will pull himself toward his foe and kick the foe in the head. We're told that he also has a powerful attack that will involve him throwing a batarang with a sonic detonator on it, which, when it strikes a foe, will cause numerous bats to appear and swarm the foe. Superman also has lightning vision, and we also managed to see Green Lantern trapping enemies in a green force field. We're told that GL has some special powers associated with his ring powers, including a pincer attack and the ability to create a huge hammer to smash his enemies with.
So far as advancement goes, players used to finding tons of loot may be in for a surprise when they start up Justice League Heroes for the first time, as none of the enemies in the game actually drop items. Instead, your main goal when you kill enemies is to gain experience, which obviously lets you level up and increase the efficacy of your skills. In addition, your foes will drop "boosts," for stats like endurance and damage. These can be implanted directly into specific skills to further improve them. Players of City of Heroes will recognize the basics of this system.
Unfortunately, the developers were reluctant to detail much of the game's plotline, but we did manage to get some ideas from the game's intro trailer, which features a fiery meteor hurtling toward Earth. We got the impression that this meteor was the cocoon for some kind of new ultimate enemy that will vex the JLA, although a good chunk of the game seems likely to revolve around your battles with Brainiac, who is in the game as a boss character. In addition, we did manage to pick up on the fact that there are at least four unlockable characters, with another pair that may only appear on the PSP version of the game (which will also feature a few unique areas of play).
Justice League Heroes is currently set to release in the fall of 2006, so stay tuned to GameSpot for more details on the game as they appear.