reviews\ Nov 12, 2011 at 7:29 pm

Power-Up Heroes Review


There’s a certain fascination to being a superhero.  Hell, when I was a kid, I know that’s all I was thinking of, gaining electrical powers or the ability to fly at top speeds (with a skull made out of metal, so I wouldn’t damage my head, obviously).  In fact, to this day and age, I still daydream about kicking someone’s ass with special powers, especially if they do something like cutting me off in traffic or whatever.

Well, now you have the chance to do something about it.  Well, not in traffic, but in video games.  Ubisoft’s Power-Up Heroes gives you the chance to design your custom superhero and then put them to the test in battle, using your Kinect to control their actions, which range from punching someone with a flurry of fists to launching the kind of projectiles that would ruin their weekend.  It’s the stuff for fantasy, and pretty ideal for kids.  It’s just too bad the game as a whole doesn’t have the kind of lasting value to make it last.

Here’s the thing: you start out in the game choosing from certain suits and abilities, using your Xbox Live Avatar.  From there, you’ll hit the battlefield, taking on a random number of opponents, each powered-up with their own super suits.  Beat them, and you become all Mega Man-ish, gaining their abilities with the option to use them however you please.  The more you proceed, the more you unlock, and the tougher the opponents get.

Yeah, it’s a grind, but it’s something kids may thoroughly enjoy.  The game does a decent job of reading motions of players, whether they’re raising their arms or dodging an incoming attack like a pro.  There are times the device can easily misread what you’re doing, especially depending on where you’re standing, but it’s okay for the most part.

It’s just that the gameplay doesn’t really go far.  Even with the option of new super suits, the controls as a whole don’t really change much at all.  You’ll be doing basically the same thing you’ve done with the first fight by the time you reach the 20th.  And so on, and so on.  Some diversity or the ability to properly level up would’ve done wonders here.  Instead, it just feels like you’re not so super at your job.  Last thing you want to feel like when you’re donning a power suit, really.

The game does provide multiplayer options, as you can either fight a friend locally or battle the odds online through Xbox Live.  Local works better, as you can battle back and forth like true pros.  Online is decent, but a whole bunch of lag enters the picture, meaning you’ll have to wait for a second or two before the effects of your battle are felt.  It’s not a complete dealbreaker, but it feels a bit strained, especially when all you want to do is save the world.

Power-Up Heroes’ presentation is pretty average.  The hero suits look good, as do some of the abilities you unleash, but the environments are pretty bland.  Rather than feel like you’re defending a city, it’s placed like a set-up to a cheap B-movie.  The over-the-shoulder camera view gives you a good glimpse of how the action unfolds, at least.  Also, more could’ve been done with audio.  The music is mostly forgettable superhero glop, and the narrator sounds like he could’ve used some perking up.

So, Power-Up Heroes sits in the middle of the Kinect category.  It’s not bad enough to be outcast like, say, Ubisoft’s Fighters Uncaged, but it’s also missing those certain elements that make it a legendary experience, such as Child of Eden or Kinect Sports.  Those who want to test their superhero abilities – or just want something enjoyable to play with the young ones – should definitely give it a look.  As for us?  We’ll go back to being bad-asses in Batman: Arkham City, thanks.

Above Average

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