When I tried the free Cardboard demo of Justice League VR I said it wasn’t bad for, you know, a free Cardboard demo. In fact, I’ll admit I was even looking forward to trying out the full version, which is now available on Rift, Vive and PSVR after a brief exclusive stint at IMAX VR locations. Sadly, this minigame compilation doesn’t translate well into a bigger package on more able headsets.
The Justice League VR game lets you play as each member of the League including — I’m just going to say it — Superman in their own unique challenges. Each is poised as a VR training simulation undertaken by Bruce Wayne to learn how each warrior thinks and fights. Poor old Jeremy Irons has been roped in to provide a handful of sassy one-liners as Alfred, and if you score enough points in a game you’ll unlock the respective hero’s suit to display in the Bat-cave.
As an overall package, there’s really very little fun to be had in Justice League VR. Each game targets a different set of mechanics but they’ve simply been done better elsewhere. At best, the games are boring, with no music and serviceable controls. At worst, they’re clumsy and confusing. Seeing through the entire package will take less than an hour and there’s no reason to revisit them past unlocking the other suits. But let’s take a closer look.
Appearing for the first time in the home headset version of the game, Superman’s level has you flying forward at high speeds, using your laser vision to eradicate parademons. While it’s fun to hold your hand forward to imitate the Man of Steel, the game is a little dizzying and underwhelming. You aim your heat vision and steer with your head, but only get a limited boost by throwing one arm forward, making it tiring to constantly withdraw and then stretch out your arm over and again. The environments are nice and plowing through rock is a thrill, but there’s no impact or joy to be had from lazily glaring at the enemy and hoping it dies.
Speedster superhero The Flash probably has the worst pick of the lot. In this woeful experience you race down a subway in time to stop a bomb, occasionally shaking your controllers for a boost. Despite being, y’know, The Flash, running as fast as possible is not a good idea, as it’ll usually send you flying into an obstacle, be it a train or debris. You steer by looking at the place you want to run to next, including walls and ceilings, but the system just isn’t responsive enough to avoid many of the gates that block your path. The end result is a frustrating, confusing experience.
Surprise, surprise; this one’s a wave shooter. But it is at least a solid one, making this the most enjoyable game of the bunch. Cyborg takes down drones with wrist-mounted machine guns and canons but also has a small shield he can use to block incoming fire. There’s a boss to fight and the odds quickly becoming overwhelming. It’s not memorable in the least bit — you’ve played it a hundred times before — but at least the objectives are clear and the foundations are stable.
Aquaman’s mission is similar to Superman’s only, instead of fighting parademons, you’re fighting a big fish. This time you throw yourself forward with one arm and then swipe at weak spots with the trident in your other. While this is visually the best of the bunch, the mechanics are pretty shaky. Boosting sometimes doesn’t work when you need it to and it’s a crap shoot as to if you’ll actually hit something when you swing your trident before the fish swims away again.
We’re on his third VR experience now and poor old Batman still can’t seem to get it right. Here we steer the Batmobile and shoot down enemy tanks as we race along a Gotham sewer. The controls are on-point, as you steer realistically, but there’s very little satisfaction to have had in shooting the handful of enemies, some of which you’ll race past and find yourself unable to slow down so you can finish them off. It wraps up before you can even make an impression.
With sword and shield in hand, Wonder Woman stood the best chance of coming out of this one unscathed, but the controls here are more akin to a Wii waggle-fest than something like Vanishing Realms. Parademons rush you and you’ll hit them with what essentially feels like a big stick that’s glued to your hand, teleporting around a small but lush environment. The combat works whether you flick your wrist or do a full swing, but it’s largely lifeless and unengaging. Occasionally you can link your arms for an arena attack, which has its small pleasures.