After the catastrophe that was Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, gamers and comic fans alike have been waiting for a great super hero themed fighting game. Well our nerd prayers have been answered. Nether Realm studios, developers of Mortal Kombat, have delivered another Krypton shattering punch to the fighting game world with their DC brawler, Injustice: Gods Among Us.
I have been waiting for Injustice ever since I got my hands on it at E3 2012. Now before you go on saying that it’s a Mortal Kombat 9 clone with a DC license, shut your mouth! The only similarity this game has with MK9 is its developer. Injustice is in a league of its own. It is easy enough for casual fans to enjoy, yet deep enough for the hardcore fighting game aficionado. Let me cut to the review; forgive me if my fanboy is showing.
So first things first, let’s talk about why you would be playing this game. Fan service! Nether Realm studios have clearly shown their love for the DC universe. Character intros, costumes, dialogue, and personality are all here in full glory. Nether Realm even went the extra mile to cast the original voice actors from the Justice League animated series (sadly, no Mark Hamill as The Joker). Injustice delivers what few games can, EPIC SUPERHERO BATTLES!!! Yes they are epic! While playing Injustice, you can actually “feel” the meaty and devastating hits your character is dishing out. It adds that level of awe to the game formally reserved for comic book panels.
The game continues to add on the epic in the form of “level changes.” The level changes are handled similarly to DOA, but on a grander scale, not only can you knock someone down to the next floor of the stage, you can knock them clearly into an entirely different level in the game. Level changes can mean the difference between victory and defeat, if you’re on the receiving end of one; chances are you’re not coming out of that battle as the winner. They add to the already fluid combo system- by simply knocking your opponent into the cut-scene, your combo count will continue to rise, while at the same time slightly building your meter.
Graphics in the game are appropriate for the subject matter. As stated before, Nether Realm has really shown their love for DC and its characters. Everything from Green Lantern’s ring to Downtown Metropolis is rendered with stunning detail, and absolute care. A lot of people are complaining that the models look like they are made out of clay. I personally don’t have an issue with it. It is actually a pretty smart design choice.
With so much going on in the environments, the game would have to dumb down something. Models show their true glory in the cut scenes. That being said, Injustice looks great! Environments are extremely detailed to the point where they look surreal, and characters have enough detail in them to remind you that you’re playing a current gen fighter. Almost every time I play I notice something new.
Game play makes veteran fighting enthusiasts feel right at home. The game brings back some of Mortal Kombat 9’s fighting formula with it. This is a good thing. Basic combos are simple to execute, yet there is still enough depth to where you really have to know what you’re doing in order to win. Without this, we would have another masher tournament fighter. Personally, I like a little finesse in my fighters, and Injustice brings that finesse. Pulling off glorious combos makes you feel like you have actually accomplished something. It’s this sense of accomplishment that keeps bringing me back to Injustice. For new players, I suggest you utilize the game’s extensive training mode. (Just because you’re good at MK9, doesn’t mean you’re automatically amazing at Injustice).
Fights are more of a battle of wits and patience. Meter is everything in a battle. Do I go all out and drain my meter for heavy hitting combos? Or do I save it until the inevitable “Hero Clash?” Hero Clashes are what make Injustice stand out. They give the player the chance to break out of a combo in an epic fashion. Think of MK9’s “breaker”, but with more risk vs. reward. Clashes require meter to win or lose. Once a clash cut-scene has started, players have 10 seconds to select how much meter to wager. The more meter you have, the more likely you are to win the clash. If neither player bets meter, the clash ends in a tie. Clashes can only be executed once per player and only while they’re on their final life bar. If a player on the defensive initiates and wins a clash, they will regain about 30% of their health bar. If they lose, the attacking player does double the damage for the final blow in the clash. It definitely plays into the strategic aspect of the fight. That in turn makes you feel like there is real peril facing your character.
Yes the fighting mechanics are amazing, but what about the AI? Well, it can range from too easy, to “I want to throw my controller at the screen,” hard. Let me just say, if you thought Shao Kahn was cheap, wait until you fight Superman on hard mode. I haven’t dealt with a case of SNK boss syndrome (Google it kids) since King of Fighters was on PS1. It almost seems like the game is mocking you. Harder difficulties give the feeling that the opponent knows what you’re going to do before you even do it. Last time I checked, Batman didn’t have a spider sense. Minor AI issues don’t hold back Injustice from being an amazing title, though. It still has a lot going for it.
On top of all the awesomeness mentioned before, Injustice sports a great story! It is actually one of the few fighting game stories I have actually cared about. I don’t know if it’s because of how well it’s told, or if it’s because I’m already a fan of each of these characters. (Insert Fry meme here). Where MK9 set the bar for fighter stories, Injustice, takes the bar, and throws it into the sun. I don’t want to spoil anything. Let me just say that Superman goes insane. The story is the way to go in order to fully appreciate what Injustice has to offer.
What would be a modern day fighter without online? Online is where the real challenges begin. Fortunately it is a stable playing ground with very little lag. You get your standard game modes, Vs. King of the Hill, and many more. Each come with their own challenges, and once they are completed, XP and armory cards are obtained to unlock new things. Characters are relatively balanced as far as power is concerned. Fan favorites are going to be your obvious opponents. For example, out of the extensive roster available, I’ve been running into a lot of Batman, Superman, and Deathstroke. It takes me back to when Street Fighter 4 came out and all I was seeing online were Ken, Ryu, and Sagat. This should not scare you away from online. Casual players can still find a lot worth fighting for online, while veteran players will keep coming back for more and more.
Injustice comes highly recommended. As a fighting game enthusiast and comic book fan, I couldn’t have asked for a better game. Injustice is DC’s answer to Marvel Vs Capcom. What sets Injustice apart from MvC is that it doesn’t need a gimmicky crossover to be great. This game has a strong story, recognizable characters, fast-paced fighting, great online, and amazing fan service. Not to mention DLC done the correct way. Injustice is going to be one of those fighters that will keep spinning in your disc tray until your laser burns out. If you are a fan of fighters and comics, you owe it to yourself to pick up Injustice: Gods Among Us.