When Powers Collide
From campy TV shows to gritty blockbusters, There have been all sorts of media based on comic book heroes for almost as long as there have been comics. It’s hard to believe that most of the heroes we see today have been adventuring, fighting crime, and entertaining with the stories since before most of us were actually born. There’s a character for all situations too… A hero to watch over us, a hero to protect us in the night, a hero that protects the oceans. Where there’s a hero, there’s someone who sees things differently, so as long as heroes have existed, there has been villains, and as long as both are present in the same world, there is conflict. Which brings us to the one question that has existed for just as long… Who WOULD win in a fight?
Injustice: Gods Among Us tackles that question (and more) in the only way that we care to find the answer. By letting people see what happens when Superman uppercuts Aquaman into orbit, or when Batman runs Green Lantern over with the batmobile. Made by Netherrealm Studios, Injustice appears to be a DC skinned Mortal Kombat at first glance, but that is far from the truth.
Not Just a Mortal Kombat clone. Injustice is it’s own Beast.
Playing similar to Mortal Kombat, but with bits and pieces borrowed from a range of other fighters, Injustice manages to break out and form its own little niche. There’s a strong range of fighters that range vastly, from the combo-friendly Catwoman, to the tanking powerhouses of Doomsday and Solomon Grundy. Each fighter actually has a fairly unique feel to them, and it doesn’t just come from their special attacks. The special attacks are truly entertaining though, with each character taking the fight to their opponent in the method they like most.
One of the major aspects that Netherrealm carried over from Mortal Kombat to Injustice is the story mode. Here it’s even more of a necessity though, as each character in the game already has a rich history. Luckily, the story mode is done with flair and finesse. The story kicks off with a selection of heroes and villains being transported to an alternate timeline where Superman was tricked into killing his own family and has taken a dictator-ish rule of the earth in an attempt to bring peace. From there you’ll take control of a different character each chapter as they go through 3-4 different fights or minigames that slot between cinematics. It flows really well, and tells an intriguing story.
There’s a whole range of other modes to give the game almost infinite replay value, including the typical 10-fight ladder style arcade mode (here called Battle Mode) and a heap of alternate Battle Modes that add challenges, such as regaining health by damaging your opponent, or defeating the entire roster on a single life bar. There’s a mission-based mode (S.T.A.R. Labs) which gives you a fight to win under specific criteria. Perhaps you’ve been poisoned and need to win before you die, or perhaps you’ve been weakened by kryptonite and need to avoid being hit for 20 seconds. There’s 240 (plus the inevitable DLC) missions available, so that’ll chew up a few extra hours.
It’s easy to see that Netherrealm has put plenty of thought into the design process for Injustice. Throughout the story mode, you’ll find that many of the characters aren’t exactly the versions you’ve grown to know and love (or hate), but have their own little changes. The Joker particularly comes to mind, as he acts far more serious and violent in Injustice than his Arkham City counterpart. Each character also has not one, but two entirely new costumes, mostly upgraded to include some form of armour. Certain characters will also have interactive dialogue with their rivals during specific events in a fight. These help to give Injustice its own feel and separate it from each characters other outlets.
Injustice excels in most areas, only being let down by some of the sounds becoming repetitive, and a few odd textures (Am I the only one who thinks that Aquaman’s sharks look like bath toys?). In terms of gameplay, it’s different enough from other fighters to make its own mark, but still similar enough to Mortal Kombat for me to think you probably won’t like injustice if you couldn’t stand Mortal Kombat. There’s replayability galore and adventuring into the other Injustice media (there’s a comic book series and a free iOS app) make the game more enjoyable and give you a better feel for the universe. My biggest complaint comes not from the game but from its marketing strategy… Seriously, what’s with all the version exclusive and pre-order skins? Injustice is a well-rounded fighter that won’t bring any new fans to the genre, but should feed the fighting gamers lust for more action.
Developer: NetherRealm Studio
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive
Release: 17th April 2013 (Xbox 360 – Reviewed, PS3 and Wii-U)