Young Justice: Legacy|
The World's Finest review by Michael "Yojimbo" Tanaka:
On March 16, 2013, fans of Young Justice watched the finale of Young Justice: Invasion. It was bittersweet, watching the conclusion of an intricate build up of storylines, sub-plots, and character arcs, knowing the show was ending indefinitely. The tie-in comic book series had already ended the month before. The show runners Greg Weisman and Brandon Vietti still had further stories to tell - many pitches were made to keep the series going, but none were given the green light. DVDs, soundtracks, and trade paperbacks were still being released, but it wasn't the same. Still, there's always hope … and that hope is named Young Justice: Legacy, a direct tie-in video game to the series. After several beneficial production delays, Young Justice: Legacy is out and my love of Earth-16 has gone supernova once more!
The story - written in collaboration between Sharon Scott and show writers Greg Weisman and Brandon Vietti - is set between season one and season two of Young Justice, during the latter end of the five-year time skip. Renowned archaeologist named Dr. Helena Sandsmark is kidnapped and the Team sets out to find her. A simple rescue op becomes much more complicated when they discover the Light, a collective of the most notorious villains, is exploiting Dr. Sandsmark's expertise to locate fragments of an ancient statue of legendary power. Now, the Team has to race against time to find Sandsmark, gather the fragments scattered across the planet, stop the Light and save the planet from imminent disaster. To top that off, "One will rise. One will fall. One will die." You know, business as usual.
Not the typical tie-in video game, Young Justice: Legacy has the unique trait for being canon with the Young Justice series. It's like you're experiencing a season's worth of awesome! Think about it - Weisman and Vietti consulted. Time stamps flash across the screen in that loveable font. The voice cast is back. Lex Luthor, Klarion, Sportsmaster, Riddler, Blockbuster, Black Manta, Psimon, Bane, Cheshire, Icicle Junior, and Killer Frost are back. Aqualad, Nightwing, Kid Flash, Artemis, Superboy, Miss Martian, Zatanna, Rocket, Tempest, Batgirl, Beast Boy, and Robin are at your disposal to play as. Batman, Black Canary, Red Tornado, Aquaman, Green Lantern John Stewart, and Superman coordinate with the Team. You can collect 10 journals and learn some of what Red Arrow went through looking for Roy Harper during the time skip. The game is populated with references and callbacks to the both the cartoon and the comic book series. Little lines are expanded on. Unanswered questions are explored. And the Team is rocked with several revelations.
The game play follows the action RPG format where the player forms their own Alpha Squad of three members of the Team from a total of 12 characters. In each mission, the player must fulfill primary and secondary objectives. As they fight and collect special items, the characters level up. The player can then choose how to improve their characters - making them a physical powerhouse, hand to hand expert or long range assailant who can decimate groups of enemies - and buy enhancements to improve offensive and defensive statistics.
The Light is notorious for long term planning so the Team will be fighting wave after wave of assassins, henchmen, robots, soldiers, and warriors. Luckily, each character has a special set of heavy attacks, light attacks, combination moves, and special attacks. Balancing the fighting is an ever changing layout of challenges from level to level - from saving hostages, to clearing a room a bad guys before a bomb detonates, outrunning an avalanche, crippling hovercrafts, taking out generators, solving ancient puzzles and annoying riddles, and dodging snipers. You're not simply running through a map mashing buttons when enemies spawn. However, there are a limited kind of enemies used and once you get used to fighting them, well, they become just a chore. Take the heavy hitters out from a distance, then close in and finish off the rest with heavy and light combo attacks. Even some of the bosses are kind of a push over when you employ the winning strategy. Bane, for example, was a total pushover. Luckily, some of the boss fights aren't so simple. Some you take on two at a time. Others, you have to disable something and dodge the boss at the same time. And there are usually two boss fights per mission, you aren't just trying to ram through each level to get to the big battle at the end.
You do have to think and use strategy fighting some enemies. For instance, there's one section where a sniper can decimate your Squad in one or two shots. Instead, you have to slowly push a forklift across a room to block his line of sight. Or you have to cripple the Manta Flyer by destroying several devices. But you have to exercise patience and time a run at each device to avoid swarms of robots, Lex Luthor's attacks, and the Flyer's cannon. Most of the puzzles require the 'guess and check' strategy but you can only gain more experience and credits if you're wrong - having to fight more enemies. Either the game or a rather compulsive villain will provide enough clues for you to figure it out. In each mission, the player can also search for bonus items. This includes alternate costumes for playable characters you can switch into, such as Mentor Suits - costumes designed to mimic a character's Justice League mentor, diorama set pieces of heroes vs. villains, and Red Arrow's journals - 10 total - that expand on his search for Roy Harper during the time skip. This usually involves breaking down false barriers into secret areas (be sure to keep double checking the map for dead-ends), leaving no oil drum unturned, and jumping to higher ground from stacks of boxes.
The game is pretty straightforward. There's five areas with three missions each. Within each mission are 1-4 levels each. Each level is complementary to the story and nothing is wasted or out of place. But expect plenty of twists and surprises along the way. It would take on average 15-20 hours to play the entire game, coincidentally about the same length as a full season of Young Justice. However, it does feel like the game came up too short. It would have been neat if there were side missions with stories that star characters not involved in the main storyline. The main story already sets one up with Lagoon Boy and Bumblebee being unable to participate on account of them being on a special assignment. Who wouldn't want to know what that was about? Plus, there's the implicit question of what the unlockable playable characters were up to before they take a Zeta-Tube trip to the Cave and answer Aqualad's call to arms. Plus, if the journals are any indication, there's plenty material for Red Arrow side missions.
But the hope is DLC will placate this to a degree. Little Orbit does have the license for awhile. So far we know that players can download more alternate costumes and purchase playable characters (who weren't members of the Team yet as per the story or otherwise occupied). Bumblebee, Lagoon Boy, Wonder Girl, and Blue Beetle are confirmed, but looking at the Team's roster,there's room for more additions in the future. And for goodness sake, make the pets playable! In addition, there's 49 achievements to unlock in the game, challenge modes, online multiplayer, and local multiplayer modes.
I'll admit I'm not a huge gamer, and just came off playing a different similar Action RPG (which is my favorite type of game), but I liked what I saw here. The 3D graphics were polished but I'm sure lots of fans, illogically, want to see the animation from the show used instead. It's close enough, but the graphics do get blocky and jagged. The environments are plush but suffer from the occasional glitch, such as when you jump at the side of a vehicle and the character gets stuck moving in a crouched down position temporarily. In terms of the controls, if you're doing repeated light attacks, for instance, the game won't necessarily keep up. You'll also need to aim your character at the target on occasion when you're firing projectiles, casting spells, throwing things, and the like.
To continue with some of the issues I experienced, the minor mission information you see when you pause at gameplay is occasionally erroneous (i.e. some mission titles are mislabeled). Also, some of the forced camera angles that change during game play can get annoying real fast at times. I can see some fans complaining about not being able to play as members of the Justice League (or as the villains), but like the show, Young Justice: Legacy is about the Team. Another tiny gripe, but I was left wondering why Phil Bourassa, lead design on the show, or Christopher Jones, main artist on the comic, weren't recruited to do the package art for the art on the video game case.
Still, with the game being infused with crucial story details, characters, callbacks, references, answers, and the like, it's a decent compromise. This game is so full of revelations and bombshell moments. Between that and all the new information you're getting, it's like we got an epic mini-series event, and not just a cheap cash grab video game. One nuance that I loved from the show was how actual mythology was incorporated in the ongoing story plots, and that carries over here.
And what else? Well … Aquagirl has a big recurring role, there's major tension between a mentor and mentee after a cryptic statement is made, some lingering "when did this happen" questions are expanded on in Red Arrow Journals at long last, Zatanna does something familiar, and the mysterious final villain did appear in the comics.
This game lends itself better to existing fans of Young Justice. For that base, this game is pure awesome that gives them another fantastic, informative, and entertaining jaunt through Earth-16. Enough is built into the game about the characters and the background developments, a newcomer to the franchise can dive into this game and understand what's going on. The added benefit is this game can be a spring board to hook them in and get them interested in learning more with the DVDs and comic book series. I'm not sure how a non-Young Justice fan and hardcore gamer will take this game, but as a big Young Justice fan and casual gamer, I enjoyed it greatly.
The game has some flaws, yes, but those so feel minor since this games give the fans some well-deserved answers. Young Justice fans get this great epic-filled adventure with plenty of answers to what happened during the five-year time skip (and expanding on some innocuous one liners). A captivating storyline, the original voice cast, the guiding hand of Young Justice producers Greg Weisman and Brandon Vietti, bonus items to collect, and extra modes that will keep fans playing – you get it here. You ever wanted to be on the Team? You ever wondered what the heck happened during that time skip? Want to know what Red Arrow did? Want to experience one more epic jaunt on Earth-16? Young Justice: Legacy reminded me why I loved Young Justice with a passion in the first place! This game reminds us that there are so many amazing stories left to tell and, with enough support from fans, there's hope for more from Little Orbit.
Graphics: 8 out of 10
Story: 10 out of 10
Controls: 7 out of 10
Overall Score: 8.5 out of 10
Little Orbit provided The World's Finest with the XBOX360 version of the game to review. "Young Justice: Legacy" is available for XBox 360, Playstation 3, Nintendo 3DS, and PC through Steam starting on November 19, 2013.
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