Superman goes rogue and all hell breaks loose in Netherrealm Studios' fighting title, Injustice: Gods Among Us. It's an all-out brawl between the heroes and villains of the DC Universe—who will come out victorious? That would be the critics, who are having a hell of a good time.
Injustice takes Netherrealm's experience with Mortal Kombat and applies it to DC's characters, creating something wonderful in the process. Let's check out how.
While Marvel enjoys the steady success of Capcom's legendary Vs. series, the likes of Justice League Task Force and Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe have not done DC any favors. Injustice: Gods Among Us, the latest fighter from the house of Mortal Kombat, aims to break this combo with a fighting system that builds upon the lessons of MK, while also introducing a few new tricks.
The 24 heroes and villains that comprise the Injustice roster offer stellar variety, and half the fun of using them comes from how unique and powerful they all feel. The other half lies in the sheer intensity of the attack animations: Every uppercut and gut punch has a palpable force to it, and the bombastic super attacks are the epitome of crowd-pleasing. It all looks stunning, thanks to graphics that strike just the right balance between realism and cartoonish color. Sound also plays a huge part in the impact of your attacks—when The Flash does a running punch with the Earth’s circumference as the wind-up, the crunchy sound effects and eye-popping visuals will make you feel the force of the blow.
For its first trick, Injustice does something that few fighting games ever even attempt to do: tell an interesting story. What if Superman lost faith in humanity and, with his near-infinite power, decided it was time to stop protecting and start ruling? Without ruining anything, you've rarely seen Supes quite like this before. We've seen him "retire" in Kingdom Come, and watched him wreck shop whilst being mind controlled a few billion times, but this is a far darker spin than all that. This isn't about a mopey alien who just wants somewhere to belong, its about a god who's decided his subjects no longer deserve free will.
Now you can’t be a superhero without super-human abilities, and those are executed using the Power button. This is indicated by a small icon or meter located right next to the super meter. This ability recharges over time for some characters and can be used multiple times in a match. The Power ability of course differs for each character. Superman is granted extra strength, Batman deploys Batarangs, and Wonder Woman switches from her lasso stance to her shield and sword stance. This opens up more in-depth gameplay when it comes to dishing out damaging combos.
You have plenty of other ways to deal damage, though, not the least of which is through the stages themselves. Each of the 15 locales is crammed with objects that you can activate or throw to damage your opponent, depending on which character you’re playing as; a less-powerful fighter, like Batman, might fire a gun turret or run over a rival using a parked motorcycle, while someone stronger (like Aquaman) would just grab either and smash it into his enemy’s face. This, along with the crumbling backgrounds and the ability to dramatically slam foes into new areas of a given stage, gives the action an incredibly brutal, explosive feel.
But the story mode barely even scratches the surface of the depth this game offers. If you’re more an old-school arcade ladder fan, then Battles mode offers you plenty of options. Not only is there a classic mode where you get a short cutscene tailored to each character after you best 10 different enemies, but there are dozens of stipulations you can select from to add to your challenge. Want to face off against the whole roster? How about doing it with a single lifebar? Or maybe you want a series of mirror matches? These are just a few of the plethora of other challenges available in Battles mode and that’ll keep this disc warm in your system for hours.
After being disappointed by Mortal Kombat Vs. DC Universe, I wasn't expecting much from Injustice: Gods Among Us. I grew even more concerned as the release date arrived and I still hadn't received my review copy of the game—generally not a good sign. Now, having played through the entire story mode, tasted triumph in the surprisingly smooth online multiplayer and slowly working my way through the S.T.A.R. Labs challenges, I could almost be convinced the entire delay was for the purposes of building dramatic tension. That is, if my faith in Netherrealm's ability to construct a dramatic plot weren't on the same level as my faith in them creating a female character with realistic hair. Either way, this was a game worth waiting for.
Top image courtesy of Gergő Vas.