When the world’s greatest superheroes unite, it’s guaranteed to be a game-worthy event. No, we’re not talking about the likes of Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and the Hulk of Marvel Comics’ Avengers team and some spin-off app. Today, we’re talking about their DC Comics counterparts, the Justice League, and its roster of icons, specifically Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and Flash, all of whom appear in Justice League: Earth’s Final Defense.
With such well-known playable avatars running around your iOS screen, can this Justice League role-play save the day from lackluster adaptations of the past? Read on after the jump to find out.
Against All the Odds
Lex Luthor is doing what he always does: Trying to take over the world and destroy Superman and his powerful friends. To achieve this goal, he’s brought along some allies who have vendettas against individual members of the League. Ares, the God of War, is a rival of Wonder Woman. The power ring-wielding Sinestro hates the Green Lantern. Gorilla Grodd is ready to slow down The Flash. And who else but The Joker can mess with the mind of Batman?
Of course this Legion of Doom has brought along minions to help with its world-conquering. Armed guards, seemingly indestructible robots, intelligent gorillas and zombie Greek soldiers are just a few of the lackeys at the disposal of the supervillains. The armies have taken over familiar locales in the DC Universe, including Metropolis, Gotham City and Gorilla City. The League is ready to reclaim each neighborhood one block at a time. But in order to do that, they’ll need to destroy each enemy before magical barriers will drop and they can progress to the next scene. Don’t worry, arrows will guide our heroes in the direction they need to go.
The Heroic Basics
Initially, players have access to the Big Three of the DC Universe: Wonder Woman, Batman and Superman. Flash and Green Lantern can be unlocked later once you have earned enough power points. Those are obtained by completing levels. Sadly, you are unable to play as Cyborg and Aquaman. Both are featured in the game’s title screen, likely included because of each hero being a member of the recently relaunched Justice League comic book.
Speaking of that relaunch, each playable character comes costumed in their most recent look from the comics. While the outfits are fairly traditional to what fans are used to, classic outfits can be purchased with power points later in the game. Even not-so-traditional and hated garments can be bought and worn, including Superman’s electric blue outfit from the mid ’90s and Wonder Woman’s controversial pants update from 2010.
No matter their look, their powers stay the same, and Clark, Bruce and Diana each come battle-ready with basic attack moves and a few special tricks. For example, Wonder Woman can use her Golden Lasso to rope in enemies for an up-close-and-personal display of punishment. Batman can do a flip-kick and toss batarangs.
Using these powers can affect your power gauges and using them in continued succession is squashed quickly, as each takes a few seconds to recharge after being executed. More skills can be earned for each hero throughout the game with the help of experience points, which level up your character automatically after defeating a certain number of bad guys.
Choose Your Friends Wisely
The benefit of being on a team is that the sum is greater than the individual parts. That’s definitely true of the Justice League, whose members’ individual weaknesses get balanced out by teammates who can help during the fray.
This help comes via support cards, which can be purchased with power points. A support card features a Leaguer or an ally whose own abilities can compliment those of the main heroes in battle.
Up to three support cards can be used on a mission and they’ll appear in the top-left side of the screen near your stats.
There are 30 support cards in total. They include such notables as the winged warrior Hawkgirl; Robin, the Boy Wonder; Firestorm, the Nuclear Man; and the vocal vixen, Black Canary.
World’s Greatest Game?
One of the things that makes anything Justice League-related such a draw is the team’s concept. It’s the best of the best in the world of superheroes uniting to stop a foe none of them alone could handle. This translated well in the comics for years, until B-listers (and subsequently, C-listers, D-listers and Z-listers) started filling out the team’s roll call.
It was darn near flawless in animated form, too. Not so much with the Super Friends, but with the Justice League cartoon that spun off from Batman: The Animated Series and Superman: The Animated Series. Though this writer is still skeptical at the prospect, it may even see light on the big screen when the long-anticipated Justice League movie comes out in 2015.
In game form, the concept ends up being just OK here. Justice League: Earth’s Final Defense is fun enough. It’s a bit role-play, courtesy of the costume changes and dialogue throughout your mission, and the locales throughout the DC Universe that the heroes will visit. It’s more than a bit beat-‘em-up thanks to the simplicity of the moves heroes execute and the bad guys you’ll face when playing.
Adding the support cards and a good chunk of League members to help out as you fight Luthor’s domination also adds to the concept. What may be missing is the opportunity outside of the title and selection screens to see the main heroes fighting side by side.That aspect might make the game truly reflective of the Justice League mythos, but their mission in Earth’s Final Defense is still one that’s worth fighting.
DC Comics' best heroes in a beat-'em-up role-play.7
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