Ever wanted to see what happens when DC Comics heroes and villains turn on each other? Well you have to wait no longer my friends because NetherRealm Studios, the creative minds behind the epic Mortal Kombat series have brought us Injustice: Gods Among Us.
DC Comics have a history of allowing people to do some crazy things with their characters and universe. Their Multiverse concept gives writers and artists effectively a free-reign over creating alternate universe stories for DC characters without influencing the canon of the original DC Universe. In the case of Injustice, that is exactly what has happened, with the story beginning with the transportation of several heroes to an alternate universe.
This world is a “What If?” scenario, in which the Joker has tricked Superman into killing Lois Lane, his unborn child, and the entire population of Metropolis; A solid effort from the Joker. Anyway, despite Superman being an all-round great guy, this pushes him over the edge and he decides to make world peace by fear and intimidation his new goal in life. Unfortunately while the story mode in Injustice: Gods Among Us is quite good, it doesn’t go into great detail about this lead up since it is described in a digital comic book series which is available separately. That is a little disappointing, as it might leave fans wondering what the hell is going on, but at least the basics are covered.
While being a DC Comics fan will definitely help in the enjoyment of this game, it is not necessary, although a lack of any real character development does not exactly help newcomers get to know the universe. I suppose that is what the internet is for, I guess. Having a short bio for each character (think the Arkham series) would have been a nice touch.
The controls are quite basic with buttons mapped to light, medium and heavy attacks, with the circle button activating a unique trait for each character. These traits are actions like time slow down (slow motion) for Flash, a stat buff for Superman by absorbing the power of the Sun, or health regeneration for Cyborg. A ‘super meter’ slowly fills during battles by successfully performing combos, or by being hit by the opponent which can be used to strengthen special moves or saved up to activate a Super Move once full.
The Super Moves are one of the major defining elements of Injustice with each character having a unique set piece move such as Superman uppercutting his opponent into orbit then slamming them back to the ground, or Doomsday pummelling his opponent all the way through the Earth then back again. Although they have the potential to get old after you have played the game for a while (much like the X-ray moves in Mortal Kombat) they are pretty cool, and there’s nothing quite like summoning a shark attack on your friends with Aquaman.
The super meter is also utilised with a “Clash” system that can be activated once per player per fight to give you the chance to regain some health and cancel an opponent’s combo. Once activated each fighter must press one of the face buttons to “wager” a certain amount of their meter within a time limit, then whoever wagered the highest amount wins the mini-encounter. If the person who activated the Clash wins, then they regain health. Otherwise, they take some damage; the amounts of both are decided based on the difference in the wager amounts. This creates an interesting strategy side to fights with the need to decide whether to activate super moves or save the energy in case a wager is activated.
Each fight stage contains a number of interactive objects ranging from barrels to throw, firing missiles from a nearby Batmobile, or cars to throw at opponents. Most of the levels are also multi-tiered using specific transition points to change between tiers. These transitions are much like the Super Moves in terms of the odds of them getting quite old with extensive play, nevertheless they are
Single player has a robust scenario mode that is given the novel title “Battles”, which offers you a variety of different ladder-style Versus fights. With options such as Heroes Only or Villains Only pitting you against a selection of those types of enemies to fight, or Injured which gives you only a quarter of your health at the beginning of each fight. Five of these Battle types are unlocked initially, while another fifteen can be unlocked later on in the game.
Injustice also includes a vast challenge mode called “S.T.A.R. Labs” which is similar to Mortal Kombat’s Challenge Tower, and includes 240 missions using each of the 24 characters in the roster for 10 missions each. These missions are a mixture of fight scenarios with specific conditions such as time limits or one-hit deaths, and other mini-game type missions like bypassing security lights as Catwoman or having a mid-air lightning fight with Shazam. Each mission has three completion criteria to be fulfilled to achieve a three-star rating and further missions are unlocked based on how many stars you have achieved. Some of the criteria drove me to the point of nearly smashing my controller but the satisfaction of meeting them is fantastic. S.T.A.R. Labs will definitely provide many hours of extra entertainment once the base fights get old.
While playing in all these different modes you gain experience points to level up your account, which gives you Access Cards and Armory Cards that can be used to unlock various goodies. While most of the unlockable additions are just aesthetic options for your multiplayer display, as I said earlier, you can unlock new Battle types as well as some new costumes and cool concept art, if you are into that kind of thing. While most of the additions will not add to greatly to your gaming experience, it is a great nod to all the DC Comics fans.
A companion app is available on the iTunes App Store which offers a three-on-three fighting game using the same characters as the console version. It is free but includes a tonne of in-app purchases to buy new characters and level up the ones you have, but it can be played entirely without paying anything. Playing through the app also unlocks some of the bits and pieces available in the console edition so it could be worth taking a look at if you own an iPad or iPhone which can play it.
I’ve been playing Injustice: Gods Among Us almost non-stop since I received my copy, and I can see myself continuing to play it more in the future. With the inevitable character DLC in the future on top of the huge amount of content already in the base game, there are definitely many hours of fun to have.
Unfortunately Matt could not review the multiplayer components of Injustice: Gods Among Us due to connectivity issues on his end which were unrelated to the game or its servers.