Version Reviewed: 1.0
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Game Controls Rating:
Re-use / Replay Value Rating:
Much like going to the movies, there are two ways of going into a new game. You can either go in thinking that it is going to be fantastic, or you can go in with no expectations at all. Rarely do high expectations pay off, but when they do, it makes for the best experience possible. Unfortunately, my expectations for The Hero were through the roof after seeing what I called at the time "the best app trailer ever".
Much like the trailer showed off, The Hero is a superhero action game where you, The Hero, protect the world from the very Dr. Robotnik-like Dr. Hubbub and his band of evil militants. The game basically amounts to you flying around the screen while running into all the bad guys and potential disasters that you see. There are no punching or kicking moves, although you are given a few superpowers along the way… the majority of the time it is just up to your ability to ram into targets. The enemies, as expected, vary greatly from the stationary bombs to slow moving, high hit point tanks, to high flying satellites with laser beams. There are no real hit points in the game, only a "fame" bar, tracking how much the people adore you. Every time you get hit, hurt civilians, or let babies fall out of windows (seriously), your fame drops, but it can be regained by high-fiving supporters and killing bad guys. Once your fame meter runs all the way down, you lose.
The game really works on a number of levels, mostly being the graphics. There is something extremely satisfying about seeing a game on your iPhone that looks like it could just as easily be on XBLA. On my iPhone 3G, there were no slowdowns of any kind, and apparently on the 3GS you can enable a better graphics mode that runs at 60fps. I can't imagine the game looking any better than it already does, but I'd love to see it try. The other winner here are the controls, which are almost simple to a fault. The Hero is controlled with a floating virtual joystick that works no matter where your thumb is on the screen. For the first hour or so the controls were spectacular, but I noticed after awhile that all the quick moving on the glass screen was giving my thumb a blister. Never being the kid that complained about thumb blisters, I played through the annoyance, but it was quite annoying.
My real gripe with The Hero is the story. After watching the trailer a few times, I was really excited about learning the story behind The Hero. I was hoping that the game would be an epic, taking you from the heyday to the point that he is in the video… depressed and smoking. I wasn't expecting anything amazing, but I was hoping for a humorous Raging Bull-like downfall story. Instead I got a few screen before each level of a doting police chief and a press girl that seemed like a sexed up version of Moneypenny. On its own, the story isn't awful, but my expectations were far too high for what I ended up getting.
While I certainly enjoyed playing all 15 levels of The Hero, I didn't finish the game with the excitement that I wanted to. Unfortunately, this was a case there the trailer was so good that it actually took away from the overall experience. With the campaign mode and the survival modes afterwards, I'd expect a few hours of gameplay… certainly enough to warrant a purchase. Just don't expect the app to be nearly as good as the trailer.