“Injustice” uses the “Mortal Kombat 9” engine, but don’t expect the same game with Green Lantern instead of Scorpion. This game attempts to add new wrinkles to the fight game fabric, setting it apart from the rest of the landscape. It begins with the first-rate story.
“Injustice’s” story takes place following the events in the “Injustice” comic series. Lex Luthor discovers an alternate dimension that has the same worlds, heroes, and villains, but with slight alterations. This means that the characters are the same, but their loyalties might be different. The Flash could be evil, and Harley Quinn may be helping Batman. Things get even more complicated when these characters run into their alternate dimension counterparts.
This twisted tale that involves the space-time continuum may sound confusing on paper, but it’s especially captivating for big time fans of DC lore. It provides a solid base for the game. The story mode is the main single player mode. It plays a lot like an interactive CG movie. The majority of the time is spent watching the story unfold until it’s time for heroes to clash. Then you take control in the fight.
As interesting as “Injustice’s” story is, it’s the gameplay that gives the game its character. This is a one-on-one fighter that puts style over all else. Heroes and villains go head to head in DC locales like Gotham, Metropolis, Atlantis, Arkham Asylum, and Wayne Manor, just to name a few. While the fights move forward, these backgrounds crack and crumble from the impact of these super humans beating each other. Watching the buildings fall in the background of Metropolis after a brutal slam by Superman is a brilliant touch. It’s very well done.
Nearly every stage is actually two or three stages thanks to slick transitions. Transitions occur when a character is knocked into the left or right border of the stage. A highly entertaining, not to mention brutal, cinematic shows the character flying through walls, objects and even other DC characters taking them to the new section of the stage. This isn’t strictly cosmetic. Transitions offer big amounts of damage and can be chained with combos.
“Injustice” isn’t just a shiny fighting game that’s missing an emphasis on competition. The stages have as much cosmetic detail as they do functional. There are interactive objects that can deal massive amounts of damage if utilized properly, and different characters interact with these objects differently. For example, Metropolis is equipped with floating cars. Stronger characters can hurl them in his or her opponent’s direction. Weaker characters can use them to get out of harms way by jumping off of them. Gadget-based characters like Batman can attach an explosive to the car that can hit the opponent with shrapnel. These can also be attached to combos.
Transitions and objects are what gives “Injustice” its flair, even to the casual fighting game fan. It’s appealing at first glance when someone sees Solomon Grundy launching Deathstroke through the walls of the Fortress of Solitude. This is an intentional device from NetherRealm and part of what makes them important to the fighting genre. They’re broadening the audience.
Like most of the other fighting games, this game has a power meter. Bars of this meter can be used on powered up special moves, and a full meter can be used to unleash a character’s super move, which is “Injustice’s” version of “Mortal Kombat’s” X-ray moves. These moves are hyper detailed and just a total treat to watch. I’d rather not spoil them for you here because explaining them won’t do them justice. You’ll have to see them for yourself.
The last way to use meters are the new “clashes.” Clashes can be used like a combo breaker any time the user is in the middle of being comboed. The characters separate, ready to charge at one another, and a timed wager period begins. In the wager period, a player chooses a secret amount of meter to wager on winning the clash. The opponent does the same. If the initiator wins the clash, he or she deals an amount of damage depending on the amount of meter the player won by. If the defender wins the clash, the player regains a percentage of health.
Clashes are not only entertaining to watch, but they also add a whole new strategy to meter usage. The attention to detail is further evident in these clashes based on the dialogue between the characters in the clash. If the characters are involved with one another in the game’s story or a comic storyline, they will share words specifically meant for one another.
The rest of the genre would be wise to copy NetherRealm’s habit of putting a ton of content into their games. Like the “Mortal Kombats” before it, there is a lot to see in “Injustice.” There’s the three-to-five hour story, classic ladder-style battles that unlock character-specific endings, online play, unlockables like costumes and soundtracks, and the S.T.A.R. Labs trials.
S.T.A.R. Labs feature a series of trials for each character in the game. The trials range from fighting while overcoming some sort of handicap, to matching buttons in succession, to dodging incoming objects. Those examples just scratch the surface of all of the minigames that are in this gametype. Plus, players can earn a score ranging from one to three stars. The game promises an ultimate prize for earning a three-star rating across the board.
Fighting games are always tricky to review, because the game in question has to appeal to both the first-time fighter and the competitive fight scene. Unfortunately, it’s far too early to tell if “Injustice” will catch on with the latter crew, but the pieces are there to make it a serious contender. Practice modes show move frame data to help the obsessive competitor hone his or her skills. We won’t see if there are any truly broken characters for at least a month after the game’s release.
“Injustice: Gods Among Us” is an important release for fighting and comic fans alike. It has a little something for both the competitor and the newcomer to the genre. Its excellent comic book story and heavy layer of polish make it at the very least a must-try game for fans of the DC Universe. For gamers who’ve been looking forward to it, the game delivers a top-notch experience that is bound to take up many hours to come.