Injustice: Gods Among Us
Midway Games’ closure seemed to be a blessing in diguise for NetherRealm Studios. Since being acquired by Warner Bros Entertainment, NetherRealm are off to a tremendous start for a newly-formed developer, with 2011’s Mortal Kombat reboot being praised by critics and fans alike.
Instead of announcing a sequel to Mortal Kombat, NetherRealm announced that it would be working on a fighting game based on DC Comics characters. While I wasn’t blown away with Mortal Kombat Vs DC Universe (Midway, 2008), the teaser footage certainly piqued my interest. One of the reasons why I didn’t get into MK Vs DC was that it felt like it didn’t gel, like there wasn’t enough from either franchise being explored or being represented, instead, there were awkward dialogue exchanges between characters like The Joker and Scorpion.
Now Injustice is finally here, and I’m happy to say that it kicks some serious ass.
Injustice stars a good mix of DC superheroes and villains, though in story mode the distinction between sides gets very blurred. Our universe, is one of many, and some events are so powerful, so cataclysmic, that realities can collide or interact. In a parallel universe, The Joker has tricked Superman into killing Lois Lane and destroying Metropolis, which causes Superman to lose control, and kill The Joker in front of Batman. Superman then establishes a new world government, and assumes total control over mankind. In this alternate reality, Batman leads an insurgency against Superman’s regime, and in a desperate move, manage to succeed in teleporting our realities heroes into their world.
I wont go into further detail with the story, but I have to say, it is easily one of the most enjoyable stories I have ever played. I was absolutely blown away by how well Injustice was written. I understand that the story was written in conjuction with DC, and based on several DC comics (particularly the Elseworlds series), but I was so impressed, given that fighting games usually have no story, and if they do, they’re normally sub-par compared to other games. There were so many “wow” moments, and I had frequently laughed at the jokes. I was constantly reacting to it.
Now, being that this is a DC game, you would expect there to be no fatalities like in Mortal Kombat. There isn’t, but that isn’t a bad thing, as NetherRealm has ensured there are more than enough ways to defeat your opponent with ferocity and style. for one thing, every stage has several interactive elements, as well as transition areas. The interactive environments really give some variety to the gameplay. A nimble character, like Catwoman or Nightwing, may jump onto something like a statue and the leap off, landing behind the opponent for a surprise attack, where a strong opponent, like Bane or Superman, will pick up the statue and bludgeon their opponent over the head. You can also mash the buttons on the Bat-computer to launch missiles from the Bat-mobile, kick opponents into the background, and detonate bombs and vehicles.
The transitional areas are extremely fun, with either side of each stage usually having another stage it connects to. You can launch your opponent past these areas, and into a new stage, causing massive damage. During one fight I launched Doomsday through the wall of the Fortress of Solitude, his body colliding and bouncing off crystals that littered a tunnel. Eventually we ended up in Superman’s alien museum. It was awesome.
The combos and moves in Injustice are relatively easy to pull of, and when you pause the game, your current characters moves and their inputs are displayed. Its a nice touch for anyone new to NetherRealm games, and ensures everyone stands a fighting chance (no pun intended) against their opponent. In addition to special moves, every character also has a super move, my favourite being the Green Arrow’s, where he uppercuts his opponent in the air, ties them up with a net arrow, then backflips and twists over his opponent as they hit the ground, raining multiple arrows and an explosive arrow into his enemy.
The standard story and multiplayer modes are available, but there are also other game modes as well. There’s classic mode, which plays like other fighting games’ arcade mode, and upon finishing it with each character, you are treated to that character’s ending, and you may also be rewarded with items to customise your online player card, such as emblems and backgrounds. There are hundreds of missions to complete in the S.T.A.R. Labs mode. Some are matches with certain conditions to fulfill, such as staying in the light during a match to refill Superman’s depleted health meter, and others are mini-games, such as flying through the air and avoiding obstacles. They are a lot of fun.
Injustice looks great, and while I’m not too fond of the alternate costume designs (they look as though Mortal Kombat has too much of an influence) like The Jokers spiked lapel, the characters themselves are designed and animated very well, with exception to Wonder Woman, who looks like ex-wrestler-now-pornstar Chyna (there is such a thing as too much amazon).
At times it seemed as though the game was too dark in regards to the lighting, though I simply had to turn the brightness up in options and it was fine.
The environments are designed brilliantly, and the cutscenes are a real treat to watch. I kind of wish I could watch every cutscene back to back, in one solid video, as the story was great. The characters have all had every conceivable detail designed in depth. Their lips move when they talk realistically, and The Joker in particular has some really nasty teeth visible when he talks.
The sound design in NetherRealms’ games have come a long way in recent years, and though every punch and kick sounds like what you would expect, the voice acting in Injustice is spectactular compared to Mortal Kombat. Its an all-star cast of voice actors, with Kevin Conroy, Nolan North, Jennifer Hale and many others. Fans of the TV show ‘Arrow’ will be pleased to know Stephen Amell also provides the voice acting for the Green Arrow in Injustice.
Injustice has some of the beast voice acting I’ve heard in a game, with some actors playing two different characters, which is normally something I can detect, but not the case with Injustice, it really raises the bar for voice acting in games. Fingers crossed there’s a sequel and David Hayter lands a job, as that’s the only way the voice acting could improve.
- Brilliant story. Truly something comic and superhero fans shouldn’t miss.
- Awesome new game mechanics make every battle exciting and epic. You can destroy everything!
- An insane amount of content to unlock and play. Clever use of experience levels makes gameplay truly rewarding.
- Aquaman actually kicks a lot of ass.
- Some fights can be difficult.
- Not recommended for children. Though it is not Mortal Kombat, there are a few disturbing deaths, and some coarse language.
Injustice is amazing. The story was enthralling, the voice acting superb, and the gameplay is easy to learn, but difficult to master. It has everything you could want from a DC Comics game and a fighting game. I’m hoping there is a story-expanding DLC pack announced soon, if not, a sequel.
Score – 9/10