Injustice: Gods Among Us Review
Injustice: Gods Among Us is not Mortal Kombat. It may feel that way when you begin your very first match, but by the time your character’s first life bar is depleted you’ll be looking at the game in a whole new light. Since Injustice is made by the same team that was responsible for 2011’s Mortal Kombat reboot, Netherrealm Studios (comprised of former Midway staff members and Mortal Kombat co-creator Ed Boon), comparisons to the previous game are inevitable. However, you should rest assured knowing that Injustice stands firmly on its own two feet, and benefits greatly from the company’s previous forays into the fighting genre. From the interactive environments to hidden secrets and character cameos, Injustice: Gods Among Us is the DC Comics fighting game that fans everywhere have been waiting for.
Combat in Injustice is fast, explosive, and very fluid. Instead of Mortal Kombat’s traditional High Kick, Low Kick, High Punch, and Low Punch buttons, fighting is relegated to Strong, Medium, and Weak attacks. The fourth button is character-specific, sometimes offering a boost of power (as with Superman) or switching weapon stances (such as using Wonder Woman’s sword and shield or her lasso). Instead of a traditional Block button, pressing back or down will make your character block when he/she is attacked, allowing for more fluid combat. The right shoulder button is reserved for environmental interactions, which range anywhere from jumping off a spinning globe to throwing a car at your opponent. These controls take a little while to get used to, but Injustice offers a detailed Training Mode and after a few fights you begin to pick it up very easily. Within the first thirty minutes, players will be tossing explosive barrels and pummeling each other through walls with ease.
Each of the character’s special moves are pulled right from the comic strips of their origin, and if a small part of you ever wanted to recreate that classic scene in Knightfall (or the more recent The Dark Knight Rises) where Bane breaks Batman’s back, you very well can. In addition to special moves, each combatant has a Signature Attack that is activated by pressing both triggers with a full super meter, similar to Mortal Kombat’s X-Ray attacks. These over-the-top declarations of might are always the highlight of any match, and are guaranteed to take large chunks off the receiving end’s lifebar. All of them are entertaining to watch, but my personal favorite involves Aquaman, his trident, and a very hungry shark.
Injustice is divided into many different gameplay modes, but the first that most players will want to check out is the Story Mode, which guides players through a fantastically written DC original story through the eyes of Batman, Green Lantern, Aquaman, and more. The story is chock-full of specific comic references for hardcore fans, including insane Joker antics (nuclear bombs, anyone?) and alternate universes. Everything you’d expect in a good superhero story is here, down to snarky one-liners quipped by the spandex-clad heroes. If played all the way through in one sitting the story lasts about five or six hours, depending on how many times you have to replay some of the harder fights. The pace is sometimes broken during cutscenes by “Press the following buttons” sequences which showcase some of the meta-humans more well known skills, such as Wonder Woman blocking bullets with her wrist guards or Superman tossing cars at advancing enemies. These are simple distractions, but they never feel forced and fit good within the flow of the story.
The bulk of your initial time spent playing Injustice, aside from the Versus Mode, will most likely be in the Star Labs area, which operates in a way that is similar to Mortal Kombat’s Challenge Tower but is also very different. Every character has 10 unique missions that can be completed, and each completion earns you a certain number of stars. More stars can be earned, for a total of 3 per level, by performing certain tasks while the mission is going on (such as meowing 25 times as Iris, Catwoman’s cat, during a bank robbery). The more stars you collect, the more missions that can be unlocked, which in turn will award players with new characters for said missions and more opportunities to collect stars, and so on. Hours and hours will be poured into this mode, and Netherrealm Studios has said that a ‘special prize’ awaits players who can collect all these stars. The difficulty of these tasks vary, and at times one wishes that the loading screens were a bit shorter, because having to watch a mission failed screen for thirty seconds and then re-loading the mission over and over again gets old after a while.
Versus mode offers pretty much what you’d expect from a fighting game, with a few unique twists. After character selection has occurred both players have a chance to choose which level they would like to fight in. Players can select one of many varied locations, including Superman’s Fortress of Solitude, Wayne Manor, and The Watchtower, and then can choose the actual part of the level they would like to start in. Since most of the arenas have two or three different areas that combatants can be knocked into, this is a great way to jump straight to your favorite part of a level. After selection has been made by both characters, the game will randomly select which of the levels the fight will occur in. This is a fun and balanced change to normal fighting game level selection, and I was pleasantly surprised by how often I wanted my level to be the one that was chosen.
Battle Mode acts like an old school arcade ladder, pitting the player against ten randomly chosen opponents in matches that slowly increase in difficulty. While initially only a few different battles are available (Classic, Heroes Only, Villains Only) more can be unlocked using Access Cards that are gained through victory in matches. Concept art, hidden character models, alternate costumes, and more can be unlocked in the Archives using these Access Cards and Armory Keys. Unlockable battles range from hard to downright sadistic, such as pitting you against every character in the game with one lifebar. Players are bound to spend hours trying to unlock all of the different Battles and items that are available, and even longer trying to master them.
Injustice: Gods Among Us does a terrific job of forging its own way in the fighting genre. With a unique battle layout, destructible environments, a well-written story, and dozens of eligible fighters to pick from (with more on the way, Lobo has already been announced and more are slated to come soon), Injustice is sure to suck players in for hours and hours of entertainment. While at times reminiscent of Netherrealm Studios’ previous game, Gods Among Us stands on it’s own accord with over-the-top action and rampant superhero nostalgia. Long loading screens aside, the game runs smoothly with no slowdown apparent even when multiple explosions and characters are on the screen at once. If you’ve ever wondered what a grudge match between Green Lantern and Sinestro would look like, or how Doomsday would fair against little old Harley Quinn, this is most definitely the game for you.