After successfully rebooting Mortal Kombat in 2011, Ed Boon and his team at Netherrealm Studios return with Injustice: Gods Among Us, which sees DC comics heroes and villains duke it out. You can tell that this is a fighter from the MK team, but Injustice is more than a simple wardrobe change - it is a superb fighting game, and one of the best titles of the year so far.
There’s gotta be a reason for these different characters coming together in one game and fight, right? Yes there is, one that is explained in Injustice’s entertaining story mode. The gist of it is that the Joker is about to set off a nuke in the middle of Metropolis, and as our heroes are rushing to stop him they get pulled through to another dimension. In this new dimension, which is effectively a parallel universe, Joker used some kind of mind-altering drug on Superman and had him kill Lois Lane (and their unborn baby, yeesh) thinking that he was fighting Doomsday. Joker also successfully nuked Metropolis and all this made Superman lose his mind, killing the joker, and becoming a dictator that rules the world with an iron fist. Got all that?
To be honest the story is weak. It does however serve its purpose excellently by setting up the narrative for the story mode, and what makes this setup enjoyable is all the interactions between the characters. The dialogue is genuinely enjoyable most of the time, with plenty of snappy one-liners, and banter which really lets the characters’ personality shine through. Anyone who played through the most recent Mortal Kombat story will feel familiar with how it plays out. There are 12 chapters, each one following a designated character through a few fights. You’ll be able to beat it in a couple of hours, but nonetheless it’s a lot of fun, and a good way to get to know some of the characters’ basics.
S.T.A.R. Labs missions is reminiscent of MK’s challenge tower, where character-specific missions provides you with various challenges that you can complete for xp and various unlocks. Speaking of unlocks and MK, Injustice also has its very own equivalent of the Krypt, where you can spend points to unlock alternate costumes, concept art, music etc. Okay, so it may sound like Injustice: Gods Among Us is pretty close to Mortal Kombat, which it is, but in a totally good way!
The game play is where Injustice: Gods Among Us proves that it can stand on its own. While there are many similarities to MK, they still feel very much like Injustice. The combat is mostly combo based, but there are subtle systems at work beneath the surface that will appeal to fighter fans. The characters all feel quite balanced and unique, each with appropriate strengths and weaknesses.
One system that feels a bit redundant game play-wise is Injustice’s clash system. While being attacked you can initiate a clash that prompts each combatant to wager bars of their super-meter. If the attacker wins he deals a bit of damage, and if the defendant wins he gets a bit of a health bump. A clash rarely feels like it changes the outcome of a match, but I will admit that I get a kick from the one-liners and insults that the characters lay on each other before they collide, and the way the animation shakes the whole stage is also cool.
The only unfair/unbalanced component is the character powers. Each character activates their individual power with the press of a button (B on Xbox & circle on PlayStation) and some characters have less useful skills at their disposal than others. This will probably not make much of a difference for casual players, but hardcore fighter fans will want to consider it. Aside from this minor point, the game has a great feel to it overall.
Injustice has a lot of character. With an impressive roster of hero and villain fighters, and good audio and visual design to back it up, you really feel that this is a game about super heroes. The costumes are in most cases close to the classic look of the characters, while still feeling fresh. The music isn’t too memorable, but it fits nicely. Each blow has a satisfying thud to it that carries an appropriate amount of weight. Animations are smooth, but faces and generic NPC’s sometimes look a bit off. However, there is a lot of detail in the stages, and they look great.
Speaking of stages, they become a character of their own in many ways. As your fighters smack each other around, objects and even structures rumble and sway. Each stage has a lot of stuff going on in the background without distracting from the immediate action. There are also plenty of objects that can be interacted with (like smacking a foe with a dumpster, or car), and characters may even interact with objects differently depending on if they are of a light & fast class, or a heavy hitter. Each stage also has two different areas, and you can smack opponents through to the other area with the right attack and positioning, complete with an over-the-top transition animation that both deals plenty damage and is delightful to watch.
The game’s online component builds on the strong foundation of the features we saw in the latest Mortal Kombat. There’s a King of the hill-like mode where you jump in a room, and people stand in virtual line to take on the reigning champ, as well as all the modes and features you’d expect. Online play was surprisingly smooth, only occasionally plagued by lagging matches.
While Injustice: Gods Among Us bears many similarities to Mortal Kombat, it still feels entirely like its own beast. With a fun story mode that captures the essence of the game’s characters, a whole bunch of content in the shape of S.T.A.R. labs and the many, many unlocks, and a fluent and engaging combat system to boot – Injustice: Gods Among Us puts the “Super” in “Superman” (*edit: we wholeheartedly apologize for that lame pun). This is a comic book based fighter that gives Marvel vs. Capcom a run for its money, whilst at the same time more than makes up for the mediocrity of MK vs DC universe. Recommended to any fighting fan out there that has ever wanted to settle the age-old argument: Who would win in a fight, Batman or Superman? Go find out!
|We liked Great roster, entertaining story mode, interactive environments, a lot of content & deep yet accessible combat system|
|We disliked Nonsensical story, character powers feel somewhat unbalanced & S.T.A.R. Labs can be a grind|