Hero Project Hands-On Preview and Video

Glu Mobile, as part of their shift to freemium games, has announced a casual RPG that borrows a comic book page or two from superhero games like City of Heroes. In a first for freemium, what’s got us really interested in Hero Project is the story.

With text by Phil Campbell, one of the writers of Heavy Rain, Hero Project will combine freemium conventions with backstory, plot, and exposition. It’ll be an episodic story, too, with more revealed over time.

In addition to dull mission “countdowns” where waiting or paying real money to advance are your only options, Hero Project also has a combat system that’s a bit like Final Fantasy. Your superpowers, from punches to fireballs, recharge in a few seconds and can be activated as soon as they’re ready.

You’ll lob these attacks at henchmen and villains, each belonging to specific factions that are described in the storyline. Two we encountered were a Joker-like cadre of clowns, and another was a team of evil paramilitary soldiers.

In addition to the missions, you can customize your hero, buying new capes, gloves, and other gear. Then, in the game’s Mutant Academy-like lounge, you can check out your friends’ outfits and compare your progress through the story.

Despite the inclusion of your friends in the lounge, your hero has to work alone. It’s possible you’ll be able to team up with other heroes in post-launch updates.

Hero Project has some great potential, mainly because we’ve never seen a freemium title with an interesting storyline. The more interactive the gameplay, the better, and we hope Hero Project steers clear of text and timer missions, and relies more on the JRPG real-time battles. Hero Project will be launching on the iPad and iPhone for free by the end of the year.

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