Before I really get into this review, I should point out that I've only played Heroes Incorporated once so far. However, most of the points I want to make are fairly objective so I think it's ok to post them based just on that experience. In addition, some of these points diverge a bit from what other people are saying, so I thought I'd toss it out there.
Others have already reviewed the mechanics, so let's just dive right in. I would give Heroes 7 or 6 out of 10 stars, however a bunch of issues make me feel more inclined to give it something like a 6 or 5. I had a lot of fun, I'm looking forward to playing it again, but there were some problems. In fact, some of these perhaps stand out only because the game is pretty strong overall and it's easy to expect a lot out of it.
First, some small items:
- It can be sort of difficult to keep track of the current block score. To fight crime, you essentially roll one or two die, add your modifiers, and try to beat the strength of that city block plus any modifiers (e.g. super villians). If you succeed, you put the die there to indicate that you have won a battle. Now consider the situation where I win a battle with one of my heroes. I then attack somewhere else with my other hero, which happens to be magic, enabling me to roll two die and pick the highest. If I've already successfully attacked with my other hero and no other player wants to or can lend me one of their die, I have to pick that one up. That means I have to remember what it was so I can put it back down after I roll for the magic hero. Now that I write it, that sounds kind of knitpicky, but things like that, where the state of the game exists only in the players' heads and is not recorded in any way, bother me slightly.
- Items seem to be used pretty rarely. We only used (equipped) three of the permanent items, they just weren't coming up in the cards or people having a chance to play them. That's unfortunate because they do add to the game and without them some variety is lost. However, that may be a property of just that one particular session.
Now some much larger issues:
- There's not much player interaction. Your options are basically trying to steal someone's block by fighting crime where they've already succeeded (which does introduce some interesting strategery), taking points from them via some of the cards, playing super-villain cards which up the strength of a block (and can really much up someone's game, which is cool), or knocking them out for a round with a gadget card. That list sounds ok, but it really didn't feel like a lot of interaction. Perhaps it's because you could do a number of things to other players but they couldn't respond directly. Maybe I'm just too combat-oriented.
- The price is pretty steep for this game. Retail is $40US, so it's getting up there. As noted by others, the components are materially of pretty good quality, although sometimes it's not clear what's the point (for example the giant, thick scoring board). The character artwork and such is really good, and the rest of it solid, but not particularly awesome, and I'd hesitate to put it into that price bracket. For example, the computer-ish drawings on the tiles are pretty much irrelevant. They're too abstract to really add to the feel of the game, and they don't much affect gameplay so they were pretty much completely ignored by all of us. More generally, the game is overall a fun, light game and not something for which I really want to shell up a lot of cash (a lot of cash being defined in this case as $40).
- The end game seems pretty weak. Points earned during a round are allocated at the end of the round. Normally, the person in the lead is allocated points first and so on. However, if multiple people are tied, they roll die to determine the ordering. That means if multiple players manage to achieve more than thirty six points (a terminal condition of the game) on the same turn, and were tied before the allocation, the victory basically comes down to simply rolling the die. Not very pretty. Our game avoided this fate by a lucky draw and then theft of a card, but it looked like this was definitely going to happen and it was pretty discouraging to do all that work just to come down to one die roll.
- The rules are really not very good, and for me that's what really detracted from the experience. Everybody else mentioned that the rules are very clear, but we had well over seven distinct points where we found ourselves making up rules because situations were not covered in the official set. Another poster has already asked on here about what to do when multiple crimes are on a block. That was probably the first question we encountered. We came up with the answer Mr Clifford gave (and I give him lots of credit for being here answering questions), but it was by no means explicitly or even very directly implicitly covered by the rules text. I really wish we'd written all of them down so I could report them all here, but I didn't. Hopefully next time. Another example that I can think of is: if I have a successful battle with a hero and later in the turn allocate a combat token or some other modifier to him, does that increase my original score, i.e. does someone now have to beat the die and all the modifiers, or just the original score? You can argue both ways, e.g. if it's all modifiers, then you should be able to leave the roll down and tack on modifiers later. On the other hand, it seems the most intuitive to just count the original, but then how do you track what the original was, and how do you explain super-villain cards, which have retro-active effects? Another example is, do block special effects take affect immediately after a successful battle? It would seem so, but then why aren't points also allocated directly? In either case, it would be nice if this were explicitly explained but it is not.
So, long story short, this is a good game with some drawbacks. In particular, the rules could be a lot better, and the physical components could have been better designed in order to lower the price. Some of the mechanics might also stand some counters or clarification. However, the game is cool. The dice battle mechanic is actually kind of neat, I liked it. The wandering crimes are interesting, although frustrating as they tend to not wander far. The hero art is very cool and neat looking, but the game doesn't have a huge super hero feel to it. If this were a game targeted at $20/25US or so, I would have no qualifications about picking it up. As it is, I'm probably not going to pick up my own copy.