It’s an unfortunate fact of video game life: tie-in games are often very bad. Whether they are based on movies, TV shows, books, or comics, most games of this type are of substandard quality. Consider recent reviews of Adventure Time and Family Guy, for instance. But every once in a while, there are tie-ins that surprise you and end up being quite good, like Goldeneye or Spider-Man 2. So where should we place Young Justice: Legacy on the video game tie-in continuum? Is it good, bad, or somewhere in the middle?
I really, REALLY wanted this game to be good, or somewhere in the middle. On paper, Young Justice: Legacy has a lot going for it. It is based on a very good TV series featuring characters from the DC comics universe. It has three player local co-op, and would be perfect for playing along with my two kids, who are comic fans just like I am. The game is also obviously inspired by the X-Men Legends and Marvel Ultimate Alliance series of games, which I consider to be among the greatest games of their respective generations. But even with all these things in its favor, Young Justice: Legacy is a bad game, tie-in or otherwise.
The most obvious shortcoming is the game’s graphics. The entire game looks as if it was released for the Playstation 2. The heroes are poorly rendered, with gangly limbs and bizarre proportions. If the developers were going for an “awkward teenage phase” look to the Young Justice crew, they totally succeeded. Environments, from generic jungles to off the shelf building interiors, are bland and repetitive. Even super power attacks, which should be a highlight, have boring animations. Worst of all are the cut scenes, which show, up close and personal, exactly how poor the graphic quality is.
Though the graphics in Young Justice: Legacy are bad, I am a firm believer that gameplay trumps graphics every time. Unfortunately, the game is lacking in this area as well. The formula for action RPGs is quite standard by now: you move a character around, beat up, shoot or otherwise incapacitate a bunch of enemies, and upgrade your abilities, then do it all again. The genre can be repetitive if not handled correctly. Young Justice: Legacy doesn’t handle it correctly. Special abilities are wildly unbalanced, ranging from ineffective to screen clearing. Standard enemies don’t pose any challenge or call for any unusual tactics. Boss fights range from laughably easy to teeth-grindingly hard. There is no compelling reason to earn upgrades, and no loot gathering motivating you to continue. All of the little bread crumbs that keep you playing a good action RPG are missing. Instead you are left with repetition and tedium.