Injustice: Gods Among Us has been anticipated since its reveal back in May last year.
This time, Warner Bros. have gotten Ed Boon and NeverRealm Studios to ditch Mortal Kombat for now and helm a completely DC based fighting game, but does it knock out the competition, or simply fall to its knees?
The first thing I will admit is that I am more of a fan of Marvel Comics, and Batman. I do however know enough about DC to know if NeverRealm studios have done the franchise… justice. It’s interesting to note that the studio have taken pieces of other fighting games to find a game that’s both accessible and deep.
Injustice: Gods Among Us mostly succeeds as a fighter, mainly due to borrowing from other franchises. Rather than having to press a button to block, you now hold the directional pad away from your opponent, as you do in Street Fighter. Throws are executed by pressing the heavy and light attack buttons together (this also reverses throws), as one would in a Tekken game. Special attacks are as simple as tapping a couple of directions and a button like Mortal Kombat’s special moves. Rather than having separate buttons for punching and kicking, Injustice follows a simpler pattern of light, medium and heavy attacks.
Whether it is a punch or kick you do is dependant on which character you choose. All in all, if you are a fighting game fan or not, it doesn’t take long to get used to the controls, even getting used to the deeper controls is simpler than many fighters, so the game can be used as an entry point for beginners before they get into something deeper like Dead or Alive or Marvel VS. Capcom 3.
There are two main types of character in the game, Power Users and Gadget Users. Power users can take interactable objects in a stage and throw them at the opponent or break it over their head, while gadget users tend to use objects to jump from or lace with explosives, causing schrapnel to hurtle towards the opponent, both of these types add to the strategy, and helps you determine what your opponent is thinking when choosing a character and a stage. With this in mind, everyone who isn’t giant is just a gadget user, including Raven and Killer Frost. In the grand scheme of things it doesn’t make a lot of sense, especially when Cyborg, one of the brightest of the Titans, is a Power User. If you can look past these small details, the game plays fine and you can deal with it ok.
There are three high impact flashy moves that can be performed mid-fight that are unique to Injustice. First of all are the stage transitions. A simple press of back and heavy attack together causes an attack that, when the opponent is in the right spot, can send them flying through walls, ceilings, down or up elevators or even into a helicopter! Each of these transitions takes you to another part of the stage where the fight continues.
Not all stages have these transitions, some of them only have one, and others can keep looping for as long as there’s a health bar left. Secondly, there are Supermoves, much like Marvel vs Capcom games, involves building up a special metre, through attacking and being hit, and pushing L2+R2 to unleash a special attack. The Joker’s is particularly amusing, as it involves a bazooka and a cream pie. Finally, there are Clash Sequences, these start with a player breaking a combo by pushing forwards and R2, they then wager how much of their special metre they will offer up, whoever uses the most special metre will win the clash and regain some health. All of these flashy style moves are very comic book like and over the top, which makes for a lot of fun, especially in multiplayer.
Another to use your super metre is by enhancing your supermoves, a push of R2 while doing a Special Attack will increase its damage, either by attacking harder, or adding a couple of extra hits to the move. The use of the super metre makes for very strategic fighting, and adds to the unpredictability of the fights.
The story mode is standard affair, and does the job of answering the question “how come Batman is fighting Superman?” rather well. It doesn’t answer the question “how does Batman keep up with Superman?” though, but in all honesty, no one complained that Chun Li could beat The Hulk in a fight either. This is a fighting game, not something to be taken too seriously. There’s a god, an Amazon and a man in a mech suit in the game afterall.
I won’t spoil too much, but if you think in the terms of multiple dimensions and time travelling, you get your typical comic book storyline. Fans of the Joker from the Arkham games will be in for disappointment, I’m sure we were all prepared to hear a new voice as Mark Hamill has retired from the Joker, but his replacement is much to be desired. Words don’t describe how terrible he is compared to Mark Hamill, especially when Kevin Conroy and Tara Strong reprise their roles as Batman and Harley Quinn, respectively. Another negative is the inconsistencies in the cutscenes, I could transition a fight to another area, but once I won, the cutscene would take place back where the fight started, and everything in the stage had magically repaired itself.
Battle Mode is very similar to a standard “Arcade” game, where you fight a selection of random characters until you face the boss at the end, in a normal battle, this is Superman. You can unlock additional battle styles, such as survival and ‘heroes only’, through levelling up. The AI in single-player is rather good, figuring out your favourite attacks reasonably quickly (at Medium difficulty at least), keeping you on your toes at all times.
S.T.A.R. Labs mode acts like a challenge mode, where you play as a set character against an opponent, and are required to complete a certain task in the fight. You can expect such missions as defeating Solomon Grundy before his gas cloud gets too big, or execute all the moves listed as they appear at the top of the screen. It serves as a neat little distraction from the standard fighting fare, as well as offering a little bit of practice doing certain moves, and will keep completionists busy, as there are 240 missions in total.
The online experience is mostly a balanced experience, unless, and I need to paraphrase a South Park meme for this, “if you’re facing against Aquaman, you’re going to have a bad time”. Unfortunately, even though the game only came out today, people online have already figured out that spamming Aquaman’s ‘From the Deep’ and ‘Trident Rush’ attacks together frequently causes the opposing player to be about as useful as a Magikarp. Of course, NeverRealm can always patch this in the future, and word of patching an infinite combo by The Flash has already been reported.
Online includes ranked matches, King of the Hill and Survivor. Ranked matches sound like they are, just a one-on-one match against a random opponent. King of the Hill involves one person who is on a winning streak, with a series of spectators and an opponent, the King faces off against an opponent set to dethrone the King, while the spectators can choose who they think will win.
The winner then faces off against one of the spectators, it can be rather fun watching the match, working out how they fight, then facing off against them, even better is when you dethrone the King, and seeing how long you can hold onto your virtual throne. Survivor plays much like King of the Hill, except this time you have the same health bar until you are finally defeated by another opponent. I didn’t find this as fun, but purists who love to get a kick out of smashing n00bz will love to see how far they can go on one health bar.
Each fight will earn you XP, where levelling you up unlocks access/hero cards which can be used to unlock music, costumes and challenges. Its fine if you’re into listening to the music, and the costumes are a bit of a bore (the only ones you unlock this way are just alternate versions from the storymode, no Arkham skins here).
Speaking of costumes, for whatever reason, Warner Bros. have decided that spending over 20 hours mashing a touchscreen on the iOS version of the game was the cool way to unlock some of the best costumes in the game, like Batman Beyond and Arkham City Harley Quinn, very frustrating.
Overall, Injustice plays somewhere inbetween the speed of Tekken and Street Fighter, it’s very arcade like. It is a very fun game, with some nuances in balance within multiplayer, it is still a great experience to have. Online has next to no lag, but in saying this the game has only just been released yet, so that could change.
If you are a fan of fighting games, definitely pick this up, if you’re a fan of DC Comics, give it a go too!