- Platform: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U
- Developer: NetherRealm Studios
- Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive
- Release Date: April 16, 2013
- Price: $59.99
- Official: Injustice
“A strong contender arrives”
NetherRealm Studio’s 2011 reboot of Mortal Kombat was a well received and well done title that brought the once lacking series back to greatness. Now NetherRealm are hoping to bring the DC Universe to the same heights among gamers with Injustice: Gods Among Us. Do they succeed or is Injustice a step backwards?
Injustice: Gods Among Us, besides the odd name, is a well put together title that has enough content for both the single players and the ones who will spend most of their time online. Built on the same engine as Mortal Kombat, Injustice is a refined and focused game that polishes up most aspects of its predecessor, while just missing the mark in one or two key areas. From its large roster, varied arena’s, and well realized online features, most will find little to complain about with this one.
— Gameplay —
While most players will pick up the controller and feel that Injustice is nearly identical to that of Mortal Kombat, there are some key alterations to the foundation of that game. While most special attacks are the same down forward X that will be quite familiar to any fan of Mortal Kombat, the change to blocking, the inclusion of a Clash system, alterations to how rounds work, and the new ways to interact with the environments help to allow Injustice to stand on its own.
While every Mortal Kombat title has allowed for a Block button to be pressed, Injustice has opted to use a system similar to Street Fighter and other Japanese titles. Holding “Back” will force your character to block when being hit, this change makes for a rather large impact, specifically for people like me who hate this system in other fighting games. I still struggle with proper timing and use of this mechanic and I would have preferred to keep Block to a simple face button. However I know this system is more familiar to the fighting game community at large and will most likely be a welcome change to fans of the genre.
Another adjustment comes in the way in which Injustice uses its “Breaker” system. For Injustice the combo breaker has been changed into the “Clash” system. When a player loses their first Health Bar and initiates “round two” (there are no rounds in Injustice) they are able to initiate the Clash system, allowing them to have a chance at getting back into the fight. A Clash can only be used once per character and only when they are on their second health bar. When being attacked you may hold forward and R2 which will put both characters into a mini scene depicting an epic confrontation. During this scene each player may wager a certain portion of their “Power Meter” with the player gambling the most winning the Clash.
The Power Meter is primarily the same system used in Mortal Kombat, with the ability to amplify special attacks by utilizing some of your meter. This capability allows for every characters special attacks to take on a whole new mechanic and doubling the amount of damage they can produce. Also similar to Mortal Kombat is the ability to perform a Signature Attack when your Special Meter is full. While combatants in Kombat would trigger an awesome looking X-Ray attack, the Heroes and Villains within Injustice trigger an extremely elaborate and comic book centric series of maneuvers. From Superman knocking his opponent into the atmosphere before sending them hurdling back to Earth, to Sinestro smashing his foe with twin asteroids, to the less fantastical feats of Green Arrow peppering his opponent with explosive arrows; the feats on display here are oftentimes ridiculous but fun.
Perhaps the biggest change for Injustice however comes from the new environmental features players must contend with. Almost every location within Injustice features multiple area’s to do battle, with each also featuring unique environmental hazards. By hitting Right Bumper or R1 you can utilize sections of the environment. From smashing an opponent with a car to clobbering them with an entire tree, these attacks are dangerous and extremely useful.
Arena transitions are when players move into another area of the environment and occur when a player presses back and holds X or A on their controller. When a transition is initiated the two watch as one character takes a trip through a series of painful looking hazards. From being smashed into a wall and then subsequently hit by a train, to flying through the entirety of Wayne manor; these animations are well done and fun to watch each time they occur.
On top of these larger all around changes NetherRealm have gone to great lengths to make sure each DC character is represented with great detail. Besides the great visual aesthetics, each Hero or Villain on display also features their own unique perks and fighting styles that go beyond simple Special Attacks. Each fighter within Injustice fits into two roles: Power Characters and Gadget Characters. Some Power characters include Superman, Grundy, and Lex, while Gadget characters include Batman, Deathstroke, and Flash. These roles dictate how the characters will interact with their environments, with Superman easily flinging a car while Nightwing will use that same car to jump off of and get behind his attacker. This balance between the two will require players to understand who they are using while also paying close attention to their surroundings.
Another change from Mortal Kombat and another way in which the characters differ are their special “Character Powers.” A character power is distinct from other abilities in that it is assigned to the B or Circle buttons on your preferred console. Character Powers can vary wildly from fighter to fighter and can be a simple damage boost (Superman) to a shield (Doomsday) and even an entire fighting stance and weapon change (Wonder Woman) Each can alter a fight and each is integral for a player to master and utilize properly.
All of these changes, from small to large, help keep Injustice feeling familiar while also adding in its own distinct wrinkles that would be sorely missed otherwise. While the game feels similar in movement and weight, the addition of environmental damage and the care to make each fighter distinct shows that NetherRealm have tried very hard to make Injustice a legitimate fighting game. Hell, they even got some of the best tournament players across the globe to come in and help make sure the game is ready for professional league play.
— Content —
One of the biggest changes to the fighting game scene came when NetherRealm Studio’s made sure to include a fantastic and long Story mode for Mortal Kombat. Fighting games never feature a story, and if they do its usually awful. Kombat featured an engrossing story that took players through Mortal Kombat’s 1-3, complete with great cinematics and pretty decent voice work. Simply put the Story was fantastic and showed developers such as Capcom and Tecmo how it should be done. Luckily Injustice features another well put together Story Mode, however, it is nowhere near as great as the one that came before.
For Injustice NetherRealm have partnered with DC Comics to put out a monthly series of comic books before and after release, filling in necessary plot points. While it is not required to read these, they will help breathe life into this story and help flesh out the characters motivations. What is here is done well enough, but certain characters aren’t given enough to do while others aren’t even playable. On top of this there are pointless Quick Time Events and the story comes in at about half the length of Mortal Kombat’s with only three to four hours worth of content.
With the Story not being as well done as MK’s, you would hope NetherRealm Studio’s would include all of the additional content that Mortal Kombat provided players, but you will be slightly disappointed here as well. While NetherRealm have still made sure to include additional content, it isn’t quite as huge as MK’s offering. Most of Kombat’s modes are featured here with an appropriate name change, but some features that have sadly been cut include Tag Mode and proper minigames.
Challenge Tower has been renamed and split between Star Labs and Battle Towers. Star Labs is a series of 300+ challenges that range from simple battles to wonky and mostly bad QTE style rounds. From being forced to shoot Supermans lasers at incoming barrels to blocking a set number of attacks, The Star Labs missions definitely provide content, but at the loss of quality. The Battle Towers are your more familiar fare with the simple goal of taking down 10 opponents with the later Towers adding in hazards such as half health and being unable to block.
Mortal Kombat’s Crypt returns in the form of the Hall of Justice Archives. It is here you can spend any Key cards you have earned to unlock additional costumes and extra’s such as concept art and music. Once again however, there is less substance here than was previously seen in MK. One upside however is you do not need to guess (or look online) for what you are unlocking, every item inside the Archives is laid out and explained, where as within the Crypt every location was a random guess as to what you were earning.
Two areas that seem mostly untouched include the roster size and the features found within the Online sections. Injustice features a wide roster of DC characters, 24 of them infact. From the popular and well known such as Green Lantern to ones only hardcore fans would recognize such as Ares. The roster size and variety should please most fans, with only a few noteworthy absences, such as that of Martian Manhunter.
Injustice also features multiple ways in which to do battle against real players across the world. From King of the Hill bouts and individual rooms to straight up Ranked and unranked bouts. Another nice addition comes in the form of Player Cards and the XP you are constantly accruing. Whether you are completing Star Labs missions, single fights, or battles online, you are always gaining XP that works towards your Player Level, unlocking Icons, Backgrounds, and Name Tags in which to customize your identity. This adds that sense of constant progress that games such as Call of Duty do so well and helps to keep you coming back for more.
Another bonus for iOS owners is the free Injustice game available on the App Store. Through this download players can unlock additional content for both the console and mobile versions of the game. These include additional ways to customize your Player Card and even new costumes for various characters. NetherRealm are also offering DLC in the form of new Heroes and Villains along with new costumes for the original fighters.
— Presentation —
One area Injustice excels is with its presentation, from visuals to sound and even to its authenticity; NeatherRealm’s love for the characters and world that DC have created all these years is clearly evident and on display here. From the crisp details in the fabrics of the clothing to the background animations occurring within each stage, the world of Injustice is brought to life with terrific detail. The uniqueness of each characters Special Attacks and Super Moves also help alleviate tedium and keep the experience fresh.
While each fighter has been given a unique NetherRealm makeover, there are several costumes to be unlocked for each fighter as well as various forms of DLC to make your favorite Hero or Villain align much closer to their comic book origins. Current DLC includes Red Son content, Teen Titans clothing, as well as costumes for the strong heroins that synch up with their comic appearances. Further touches include partnerships with the Arkham developers allowing for that games costumes including a Batman Beyond skin.
Perhaps the nicest touch however is the fact that each character is brought to life by appropriately chosen voice actors. From DC regulars such as the always perfect Kevin Conroy as Batman, Phil LaMarr as Aquaman, and Adam Baldwin as Green Lantern to newcomers Troy Baker as Nightwing, and Stephen Amell from the new series Arrow; each character is given the talent they deserve. Amell deserves specific attention as he is able to play the much more cocky and carefree Green Arrow from the comics as well as his much darker interpretation of the character from the show, depending on which costume you choose to use. The only character that suffers is the Joker with Richard Epcar giving an admirable performance as the Clown Prince of Crime, but sadly, nobody can compare to the incredible Mark Hamill in the role.
The rest of the title, from music to the user interface is done well enough with the only negative really stemming from the Main Menu. Injustice features a rather bland series of static backgrounds while you sit in the menu, although they depict an epic battle being waged, it comes off as very repetitive and boring, especially when compared to the moving battle from Mortal Kombat.
— Conclusion —
NetherRealm Studio’s love and passion comes through easily within just five minutes of playing Injustice. From the alterations to combat mechanics to the DC characters brought to exquisite life; Injustice Gods Among Us should please any DC fan. While it is a true shame that Story Mode fails to reach the same heights as Mortal Kombat before it, and an odd choice to leave out Tag Mode withholds some extra strategic play, the content that Injustice does offer is still leagues above most other competitive fighters. The addition of DLC after release will help to keep Injustice in your tray and the options for professional league players will make sure to give it a long competitive life as well. –Chuck
- + Decent amount of content
- + Good additions to the formula
- + Great love of the DC license
- – Combo’s are still MK short
- – Story mode lacks length