Injustice: Gods Among Us is definitely worth buying. There are enough game modes to keep you entertained for a good, long while.
After the great mediocrity that was 2008’s Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe, NetherRealms regained fighting game enthusiasts’ favor with 2011’s reboot Mortal Kombat. Two years later, they’re following that solid title up with Injustice: Gods Among Us, a fighting game featuring our favorite heroes and villains from DC Comics. Have they done the source material justice this time around?
Injustice: Gods Among Us opens with the city of Metropolis in ruins. The Joker has finally gone too far, having tricked Superman into killing Lois Lane and their unborn child, and destroying all of Metropolis. With nothing left to live for, Superman flies into a rage and, after brutally killing the Joker, establishes a new world order with himself as its new god. This turn of events would have had a greater impact had it not been revealed beforehand that this is all taking place in an alternate dimension, and that it is up to the heroes of our dimension to topple this renegade Superman. While I have nothing against the alternate reality plotline, hasn’t it been done to death? However, I do like the fact that, due to the nature of Injustice’s plot, the characters’ alternate costumes are their trans-dimensional counterparts, some of which have their own intros and outros, such as a demonic Raven and a not-evil-but-equally-badass Deathstroke.
Gameplay-wise, Injustice: Gods Among Us has quite a few similarities to 2011’s Mortal Kombat, with its focus on stringing together combos and juggling opponents. However, while the attacks are brutal, they are nowhere near as gory as Mortal Kombat. But this does add a semblance of realism to the plot that MK9 lacked. There are no longer any of those “friendly” fights, with erstwhile allies breaking each other’s spines and gouging out each other’s eyes because one of them was being a bit of a prick.
Injustice gets rid of the conventional rounds system in fighting games. Instead, each character is given two life bars for the entire match. When one is depleted, there is a brief pause as the victor does a short win pose, and then the fight goes on. There is no health reset, so the loser still has one life bar while the winner’s health carries over into the next “round”. Fortunately, however, excess damage from a powerful attack does not spill over into the next life bar.
One of Injustice’s core mechanics is the obligatory Super Meter. Like in MK9, this meter can be used to power up some of your special moves at the cost of one section of the meter. For example, Superman’s Super Breath attack usually knocks back the opponent, but the powered up version temporarily encases them in ice. Alternatively, players can wait until the meter is filled up completely and perform a Super Attack, many of which, while not as severe as MK9’s X-Ray moves, are still ruthless in their own right. The Super Meter is also used in the new Wager mechanic. When being hit by an opponent’s combo, players can initiate a Wager to cancel and break out of the combo. Both players then secretly bet a certain amount of their meter, and whoever bet the highest wins the clash and either deals damage to the opponent or regains some of their health, depending on who initiated the wager. Each character also has their own signature power to aid them in battle. For example, Superman has a buff that lets him deal more damage, while the Flash can use bullet time.
Injustice also features destructible environments. When the button prompt appears, the player can use the arena to attack or evade their foes. And how the player interacts depends on which character they are using. For example, strength characters such as Superman or Solomon Grundy will pick up a car and smash it down on their opponent, whereas Deathstroke or Nightwing will rig it to explode, or jump onto and bounce off of it to get some distance from their opponent. Furthermore, when at the edge of the arena, players can launch their opponents into another section of the level. These transitions deal large amounts of damage, and tend to be really annoying as it is entirely possible, though difficult, to juggle players between transitions. Fortunately, these can be turned off in versus matches.
Aside from story and versus mode, there are two other offline modes of play in Injustice: Gods Among Us. There is Battle Mode, which is a ladder with 24 different unlockable matches to play. In each rung of the ladder, you fight through seven opponents. However, each rung has a different mode or handicap, such as one where your health carries over from match to match, and one where your health slowly decreases over time. The very first rung, called Classic, is basically an arcade mode and is the only one with character endings upon completion.
There is also a mode called S.T.A.R. Labs, which gives you a set of 240 minigames, 10 for each character. Each minigame has a set of three objectives for you to complete, such as defeating the enemy in a certain amount of time or defeating them using a certain type of attack. However, not all of them involve fighting. In one of Catwoman’s missions, you take control of her pet cat, Isis, and have to meow 25 times before reaching the end of a level. For each objective you complete, you are awarded a star à la Angry Birds. The first 13 missions are available from the start, while the rest require a certain number or stars to unlock. While this provides completionists additional hours of gameplay, expect a lot of grinding. And this is a small thing, but Injustice includes an online practice mode that lets you practice with your friends! This is a brilliant step outside the norm, one that was also done recently by Dead Or Alive 5 and its Vita counterpart.
One thing that really disappointed me was the lack of four-player, and tag team modes in Injustice. Just imagine, the Justice League Vs. the Legion of Doom! Hell, Nightwing, Cyborg and Raven are playable characters, so why was this opportunity missed? Another thing that can get annoying is the fact that all the characters have one intro and one outro. There aren’t even any special, unique ones for when close friends or mortal enemies fight, like in every other fighting game and their dog.
There is not really much to say about the online modes. Player matches, ranked matches, one-vs.-one, player lobbies, we have all been here before. Fortunately, I have not encountered lag, although players with poor connections will unavoidably disconnect from the match.
Injustice’s graphics are superb. Character models and environments are extremely detailed, and like in MK9, characters receive visible wounds and damage to their outfits when a Super Attack hits them. However, the eyes occasionally tend to bug out, or remain fixed on a single point for the entire cutscene while the rest of the body moves around. The character’s uniforms all seem to have undergone a pseudo-cyberpunk redesign. While this looks cool on characters like Batman or the Flash, on a character like the Joker it looks like he is wearing tuxedo-themed body armor, especially since he has a bulletproof vest over his waistcoat.
Injustice has some superb voice acting. While Kevin Conroy reprises his role as Batman, I was disappointed to see that the Joker was not played by Mark Hamill. However, my frustration was for naught, as Richard Epcar still made a great Joker. The game’s soundtrack, on the other hand, was not as memorable as such games as Tekken or Bloody Roar.
Injustice: Gods Among Us is definitely worth buying. Although the story campaign is a measly 4-5 hours, there are enough game modes to keep you entertained for a good, long while.