There's no doubt that the Justice League of America is DC Comics' premiere superhero team (though not their first, as that honor goes to the JSA). But it's hard to sometimes figure out which modern era of the JLA is the most universally beloved. Grant Morrison? Mark Waid? Kurt Busiek? While all excellent writers, it's Dwayne McDuffie, Producer and Story Editor of "Justice League Unlimited," that may win the title. His work on the acclaimed Cartoon Network series won him legions of fans worldwide, and allowed for DC Comics' mightiest heroes to shine in a way they've never shone before. Now McDuffie is at it again, this time with his eyes on winning over video game fans this fall, in a hotly anticipated game from Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment and Snowblind Studios (we spoke to producer Jason Ades yesterday). CBR News spoke to McDuffie about "Justice League Heroes," a project that's quite different from the animated versions of the characters with which he's associated.
"I set out to be as true to the comic book versions of the characters as I could (with one exception, I did give Flash more of the sense of humor he had in the animated version, I just felt the game needed a, er, more comedic touch)," explained the acclaimed writer. "This meant leaving some of my well developed 'Justice League Unlimited' chops behind and going back to the source material, the comic books. What I hope we've achieved is to recreate the experience of reading a Justice League comic, with the extra-added pleasure of allowing the player to control the action. 'Justice League Heroes' is a comic book you can play."
The upcoming re-launch of "Justice League of America" has comic book fans hotly anticipating the new team lineup, as they'd like to see all their favorites included, and fans are no different when it comes to the video game version of the team. "Justice League Heroes" has plenty of heroes for everyone to love, including Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern, Zatanna, and Martian Manhunter. "The guys [Snowblind Studios, developers of 'Justice League Heroes'] have done a great job of faithfully recreating their powers," says McDuffie. "This is the first video game to not only allow game players to be one of DC's 'Trinity' of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman but you can also play as pretty much every other iconic DC Comics character.
"Keep an eye out for unlockable characters like Green Arrow [voiced by Ralph Garman] and some other equally cool DC Comics heroes that I'm not allowed to reveal, yet. Also, we've got some huge surprises for you in the ranks of the villains. Wait until you figure out the identity of the big bad behind all of the game's action."
Fans of DC Comics' exotic fictional locales won't be disappointed either. "The Snowblind team is using their fourth generation game engine to create locations from the streets of Metropolis, to the far side of the universe - and beyond," said the scribe. "From the League's Watchtower headquarters on the surface of the moon, to bizarre extradimensional realms created especially for this game."
Though McDuffie is definitely a skilled writer, when it comes to gaming, he's ready to admit some shortcomings. "I've had a chance to goof around with the game a bit, but I'm a terrible player," he admits. "I'm really impressed with how well the story is integrated with the action, which is non-stop. All of the exposition is in the game play, so you're fighting but you'd better be thinking, too. And the heroes look fantastic using their powers."
Enough about the heroes- what about the villains? With such a great group of heroes, there are a lot of great villains who can be included in the game, and McDuffie revealed a few of the big players. "The scheme is something you'll have to work out for yourself, as it's part of your job while playing the game. The villains you know about include Gorilla Grodd, Queen Bee, Killer Frost and Brainiac, there's also a villain or two behind the scenes and if you don't figure out who before you get to their level, you're as good as dead."
Dead, huh? Guess it's time to look for some cheat codes. "Justice League Heroes" is set to hit stores this fall, but stay tuned to CBR News for more on this anticipated release.
CBR Staff Writer Arune Singh Contributed To This Story.