Reviews: Superhero Video Games Let You Try On Virtual Tights

Published December 22, 2006

| Associated Press

It seems like there are more bad superhero video games than good ones.

We examined three recent titles — "Superman Returns: The Videogame," "Marvel Ultimate Alliance" and "Justice League Heroes" — to see how they measure up.

Each game at least fulfils the basic premise of the genre. Cunning evildoers? Check. Hapless citizenry? Lots of them. Ripped men and women in tights? Of course!

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As any fan will tell you, not all superheroes are created equally. That's all too apparent with these games.

— "Marvel Ultimate Alliance" (Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, PC, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PSP, Wii, Xbox, Xbox 360): The definitive video game for true comic-book fans.

"Marvel Ultimate Alliance" is a long-lasting, exciting game that offers dozens of superheroes from the expansive Marvel Comics universe.

From the mutant Wolverine and the patriotic Captain America to the wisecracking Spider-Man, I spent hours toying around with the different heroes assembled here.

The best part? You get to form your own team of four heroes for battles, so there's a lot of strategy involved in picking the right mix as you face a litany of villains, both well-known (Dr. Doom) and obscure (Grey Gargoyle).

The graphics are particularly striking on the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions I played, with detailed character animations and screen-filling battles with foes. But this is a game that showcases the diverse heroes, and it's a blast to play them all.

Three and a half stars out of four.

— "Justice League Heroes" (PlayStation 2, Xbox): With characters like Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, DC Comics has its own famous roster of heroes to compete with Marvel.

The cast may be smaller in "Justice League Heroes," but it's a similarly fun romp for the older generation of consoles.

This rather short game pits you against Brainiac and his evil minions who, as one might guess, want to rid the world of the Justice League.

The best way to play is co-operative mode, where you and another player can team up for some truly fun arcade-style action. And I can't get enough fun out of picking up trucks and other objects and using them as weapons.

Three stars.

— "Superman Returns: The Videogame" (Xbox, Xbox 360, PlayStation 2, Nintendo DS): Movie licensing at its most wasted.

"Superman Returns: The Videogame" is supposedly based on the summer blockbuster, but you'd hardly know it.

I spent a lot of time in some alien battle arena fighting hulking beasts that were never referenced in the film. Lex Luthor eventually appears, but by then, you'll probably be too bored to care.

There's some fun to be had in blasting enemies with Superman's laser eyes or frost breath but the game quickly gets repetitive.

The graphics were decent on the Xbox 360 version I tested, but camera-control issues were a major frustration as I tried to weave around skyscrapers and frequently lost my bearings.

Superman video games always seem burdened with Kryptonite and this latest attempt at making the Man of Steel into a fun, playable title continues that trend.

One and a half stars.

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