Attack of the Games from Western Developers.

For a bit of a change of pace after ICO, I decided to put Justice League Heroes in the Xbox and give it a try.

I have to give Snowblind Studios a hearty thumbs up for their accomplishment. I really expected to be annoyed with the game – how on earth do you properly balance a game where you can play the same level as, say, Superman OR Zatanna? – but after actually playing it I managed to put the fanboy geekery aside and just enjoy it. I was also quite impressed that they pushed the Xbox hardware a little bit and gave us a game that supported 720p and 16:9 wide-screen – with the Xbox “dead”, I would have expected shovelware at best.

It’s a sin that the thing is already discounted to 20 bucks – it’s a real bargain. I’m glad they decided to put Hal in as an unlockable character, because without that I never would have picked up the game and I’d have missed out on a good bit of fun.

I did run into a couple of glitches. In one of the final “rescue all the civilian” missions, I managed to find all the civilians, but one of them wouldn’t go into “rescued” mode, so I never got credit for completing that objective. I was able to complete the level, anyway, but it worried me. Also, the end credits are in 4:3 aspect ratio, but my TV (and, I think, most HDTVs) don’t support 4:3 images in 720p – they get stretched to fill a 16:9 window.

Those were not nearly so annoying as the glitches I’m finding in today’s game. Ranty bit ahead.

One of the reasons my wife decided we needed an Xbox in the first place was the Buffy the Vampire Slayer game. Yes, my wife decided we needed an Xbox. She’s actually the motivating factor behind a lot of the cool electronics that come into our apartment. To answer the next question from all the guys out there … no, she doesn’t have a sister.

Anyway. So, she’d heard that the Buffy game was really cool, so we bought an Xbox – this would be 4 years ago? Whenever the game was released – and until now we haven’t actually sat down and played it. She’d gotten through the training mission by herself but had not progressed far into the actual game, and I’d never picked it up.

After I finished Justice League Heroes, she picked it off the games shelf and handed it to me, and I realized something. It’s an Electronic Arts game. I don’t usually let them into our apartment. I’ve been boycotting EA since the mid 80s when they dropped support for the Atari home computers in favor of the Commodore line and they haven’t done anything in the interim to make me any more fond of them. I could go extra ranty here, but I will spare you all. At any rate, it snuck into our house without me noticing. At least I have the defense that the case doesn’t have their logo on it, just a subtle bit of text on the back. Also, the manual is printed in ink made out of babies and kittens. I should have noticed that.

It’s actually a pretty enjoyable game, mostly because the writing is sharp and they got almost the entire cast of the TV series on to do the voice work.

Unfortunately it’s a bit buggy in spots.

I’ve had the voice and sound effects cut completely out at the start of a cutscene and then be gone from that point until I rebooted the machine, and I’ve had a rescued vampire victim walk into a door, get stuck in a door, and then not be able to move, which meant I couldn’t get through the door, couldn’t progress any further in the level, and had to suicide to start over.

I am running on a 360 in backwards compatibility mode, but it’s much easier to blindly hate on EA than it is to acknowledge that some of the glitches might be related to running it on the 360. So, bastards at EA, I hate you again.

Rant over.

This makes two in a row from American developers, and if we stretch it to “Western” developers I’ve also put Beyond Good and Evil and Tomb Raider Legend through their paces lately. Very unusual considering how Japan-biased our games collection is.

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