No one thought it could happen. Superman was always so calm under pressure. But, set one little explosion off and count a few loved ones lost in the blast and the Man of Steel loses his mind. NetherRealm Studios, creators of the Mortal Kombat series, asks what would happen if Earth’s heroes became it’s worst enemies in Injustice: Gods Among Us. More to the point, what can be more fun than mixing a load of DC Comics characters with a tried and true fighting engine and have them beat the ever-loving crap out of each other? Well, it doesn’t take a Jimmy Olson to tell you that Injustice has a lot going for it.
Injustice’s story is something very befitting of a comic. Tragedy, struggle, insurmountable odds, and a bit of humor are all present. It begins with Joker fooling Superman into destroying Metropolis. His wife, Lois Lane, and their child are among the casualties, which causes Superman to snap and kill Joker. In order to prevent another catastrophe, Superman brings the entire planet under his rule, naming it One Earth. Being the voice of reason, Batman fights against Superman’s new extreme methods of justice. In an effort to stop the Man of Steel, One Earth’s Batman transports members of the Justice League from another dimension to help. It’s both ridiculous and entertaining, exactly as a comic story should be.
For anyone who has played any of the Mortal Kombat games, you’re already one step ahead. For those who haven’t, the learning curve isn’t steep at all. Each character has a high and low attack, a throw, and a slew of special moves that use a very basic input of two directions on the d-pad and an attack button. It’s a tried and true system that is easy to learn, yet difficult to master. Once you get the movesets down, the true depth of the fighting mechanics show in combos and juggles and tying it all together.
Injustice isn’t quite as ultra-violent as Mortal Kombat. There are no finishing moves and not nearly as much blood and gore. Every fighter does have a super move that unleashes a powerful attack in an uninterruptable (as long as it connects) cinematic. And what would a battle between super beings be without collateral damage? Each stage has a number of interactive points and a transitional area that requires nothing more than knocking your opponent into a specific section of the stage causing them to fall, fly, and incur damage as they sail to another area where the fight commences. I found both the supermoves and stage transitions entertaining the first few times I saw them. Unfortunately, they don’t ever change and can get repetitive after a while. Concerning the fighting system itself, I wasn’t a big fan of the wager mechanic where both combatants charge at each other and the players wager a certain portion of their special meter to win the wager, which damages one player and gives the other a small health boost. It didn’t add much to the fighting and, more often than not, favored the AI over the player.
NetherRealm Studios did a pretty good job keeping the characters balanced and there’s a fighter for every play style. Looking to beat your opponent to a pulp? Solomon Grundy and Doomsday can help with that. If you want speed over brute force, Flash is your go-to. If you just want to shoot the other guy in the face and have a good laugh, pick Joker. Each moveset is pretty basic, mostly keeping to the two-directions and an attack button and there is a movelist in the pause menu, should you need it.
Some of the character choices are a bit out there. While I understand the need for the Justice League and the iconic villains like Joker and Lex Luthor, I don’t know if I agree with some of the other choices. I wasn’t a big fan of Raven or Black Adam or Killer Frost and I would definitely have liked to see someone as brutal as Darkseid. But, somehow Aquaman turned out to be a badass, so I guess I shouldn’t complain too much. Maybe with future DLC, we’ll get a few more cool characters
Injustice is loaded with content. There’s both single and multiplayer options, including: story mode, battle mode, and online versus mode. Apart from the main story, each character has their own unique ending. These play out in a “what would this character do if they were the one to defeat One Earth’s Superman,” told in narrated stills. I took a few of the characters through to their endings and found Joker’s to be one of the funnier ones as he does what he does best and causes mass chaos.
Then, there’s STAR Labs. Similar to MK’s Challenge Tower, STAR Labs is a collection of over 200 different scenarios some standard battle fare, and some hilariously ludicrous, such as playing as Catwoman’s cat, Isis, as she tries to sneak by guards and laser detectors; or controlling Batman as he throws batarangs at escaping inmates who make hilarious noises when struck and just keep running forward like lemmings in orange jumpsuits. Each character has about 10 different scenarios and each one has 3 objectives. In order to unlock more scenarios, a certain number of objectives must be met. STAR Labs adds a lot of variety and replayability when you’re weary of battling one-on-one.
If you recall, when Mortal Kombat 9 was released, the online situation was an absolute mess. Fortunately, NeatherRealm seems to have learned from their mistakes. I don’t have the best internet connection and I still experienced minimal lag and lobby wait times.
As for bonus content, the archives replace the Krypt. This is where you unlock concept art, alternate costumes, additional battle types, etc. What I liked about the Krypt that is lost here is the sense of surprise and discovery. All unlockables are spelled out for you.
As a longtime fan of Mortal Kombat, I was nervous when Injustice was announced, thinking NetherRealm Studios was out of their element and we’d end up with another MK vs. DC. My fears were squashed after playing Injustice. There are a ton of super beings to choose from, with more to come via DLC. The game is loaded with extra content, has a fun story, and is a blast to play alone or with others. While it isn’t without its flaws, Injustice has major appeal for fans of fighting games and comic books alike. It’s even easy enough for those who aren’t familiar with fighting games to pick up and play. It’s nice to know NetherRealm Studios isn’t a one-trick pony and Injustice gives me hope for the future of fighting games.
Note: This review was conducted on the Playstation 3 version. Injustice is also available on Xbox360 and Wii U. A copy was provided by the publisher.