Batman and Superman are fighting on top of a Gotham City roof. The battle is intense as Batman starts to do a quick hand-to-hand combo before sending Superman flying through the air and smashing into the building beside them. He then gets smashed by a boulder before falling down onto the Gotham Transit tracks, and, before he even realizes, he turns around and gets smashed by a train which proceeds to crash into the alley way beneath the roof. It’s these kinds of crazy moments that not only make Injustice: Gods Among Us fun to play, but also great to watch.
Injustice: Gods Among Us is the newest game from developer NetherRealm Studios, who recently brought you Mortal Kombat. There were many concerns that the game would just feel like Mortal Kombat with DC characters, but that isn’t the case. At first, you do get a sense of MK when playing, with the super meter at the bottom and that certain moves closely resemble those of MK characters. That feeling is quickly lost with stage interactions, level transitions and the overall feel of each of the 24 included characters. NetherRealm Studios does a great job at making Injustice feel fresh and its own game, but certain problems stop it from being the best it can be.
Injustice does a lot of things really well that set it apart from other fighting games. One of those things is the storyline. Similar to Mortal Kombat, there is a full fledge story here to discover that’s filled with drama, humor and suspense. NetherRealm Studios does a great job at keeping you interested and wanting to learn more, while also teaching you different characters along the way. In Injustice, Joker has nuked Metropolis in a parallel universe, causing Superman to go totally insane and create his own dictatorship called “One Earth.” However, Batman learns that in a different universe, Joker’s plan didn’t work and ends up teleporting Batman, Wonder Woman, Joker, Green Arrow, and Green Lantern from their universe into the one where Superman and his regime are at large.
It all might sound a bit confusing, but trust me, this is one of the best stories featured in any fighting game. As you go through the three-hour story, you’ll get to play a wide variety of characters and get a real sense of the game and how it works. I only wish that the storyline was a bit longer, as I got really interested in learning about Superman’s regime and how it all came to be. Luckily, you can read the comic book of the same name.
What sets Injustice apart from its Mortal Kombat counterpart is a few things. First off, each character has a “character ability” that’s unique to that hero or villain. Batman summons robotic batarangs that he can launch at his enemy, Bane injects venom which makes his attacks much stronger, Superman does extra damage, while Nightwing changes from using his Escrima sticks to a staff. It throws an interesting mix into the gameplay and makes you think on your feet on how to counteract what your opponent is doing. Returning from MK is the super meter, but it’s not quite the same. When fully filled up, you can launch a super move which actives a cutscene that once again caters perfectly to each character in the game.
Another thing that Injustice does really well is the interactive backgrounds and stage transitions. However, this is a double edged sword. Each of the stages included have some sort of interactive background that each hero or villain react differently to. For example, in Wayne Manor, there is a motorcycle to the right. If you’re playing as Batman, he’ll get on it and run over his opponent. If you’re playing as Superman, he’ll just straight up pick it up and smash it against the opponent. The problem with the interactive background is that they are unblockable, so it can really ruin the balance of a match. There are moments when I lost about 50% of my life just because of the backgrounds and not the actual fight. While they add an interesting mix into the game, they also seem to cause problems at the same time.
Then there are the stage transitions, which is one of my favourite aspects of the game. Each stage on either the left or right side has a transition to another part of stage, but these extra parts are only accessed if the proper command is inputted. This not only nets you some extra damage, but you get to see some pretty cool animations along the way. My favourite of the bunch is in Arkham Asylum on the lower level of the stage. It features your opponent smashing through a door and hitting Killer Croc, who then throws him or her to the Penguin, who stabs him with his umbrella. Then Two-Face smashed a brick against his or her head before Riddler whacks them with his cane, where he or she is smashed back by Killer Croc to the start of the stage. It’s these stage transitions that really make Injustice a fun game to watch. However, similar to the interactive background, some people might find these to be a cheap and easy way to damage your opponent. I didn’t really feel it was as bad, because you’re able to block and not let it happen. So, as long as you play smart, you’ll be fine.
With all that, I still haven’t scraped the surface of what Injustice: Gods Among Us offers. There is so much content in this game, you’ll be playing it for a while. Besides the amazing story mode, there is your traditional arcade, or “battles.” There is also a great practice mode that lets you tweak about any setting you can imagine. Maximum meter, opponent always blocking, and much more are at your disposal, so fighting game fans can get lost in practice mode with the many options offered. Then there is also S.T.A.R Lab missions, which is similar to the challenge tower from Mortal Kombat. These 240 missions range from simple “Do this combo” to mini games like being a cat and sneaking past the guards as Catwoman. It spices things up and will take you some time to complete them all. Then there is the online, where you’ll probably be spending most of your time.
Online in Injustice is done a lot better than Mortal Kombat. I’ve sank many hours into online and can say that, on PlayStation 3, the game hardly has any lag and is smooth most of the way through. I did have a few system freezes while playing King of the Hill along with lobby glitches where everyone leaves, but these were rare and didn’t happen often. Injustice has ranked matches, along with non-ranked 1v1, KOTH and Survivor. Also brought back from MK are rooms, where you can chat with fellow gamers or just challenge people. I never really saw the point in this, but it’s there, so that’s totally your choice.
NetherRealm Studios has done a great job at making Injustice: Gods Among Us feel like its own game. Each character from the DC Universe feels like they belong and play to their strengths and weaknesses. With a fantastic storyline and addictive gameplay, Injustice deserves a spot on your shelf. However, there are things holding it back from being the best it can be. Interactive backgrounds can get annoying and there are some questionable balance issues within those backgrounds. That being said, Injustice: Gods Among Us is still a great game that does a lot of things right.