Injustice Gods Among Us is all your favourite DC Comic characters beating each other up Mortal Kombat style. Nerd fantasies fulfilled. Preview done. Go buy the game come April 19th when the game is released.
Or at least, that would have been my reaction if they hadn’t already tried this to middling results in DC vs. Mortal Kombat. When I first heard the announcement of Injustice I was a tad apprehensive. Were Warner Brothers and the chaps at DC really going to share their toys with the crazed minds behind the legendary Mortal Kombat series? Or might we just be better off if they concerned themselves with delivering a sequel to Mortal Kombat? DC vs Mortal Kombat fell flat largely due to its Teen rating – it wasn’t particularly fun having Mortal Kombat fan favourite moves such as Sub Zero go from pulling out opponents spines to merely delivering “Brutalities” on DC hero Shazam, and watching Superman deliver finishing blows to an incapacitated Liu Kang felt out of character. There was a distinct feeling that in combining two separately good ideas and fan-bases you ended up coming away with something that average that pleases neither. (See: leather trousers and cinnamon flavoured French fries)
But after being treated to a “hands on” play through in Warner Bros studios I can happily report that Injustice Gods Among Us is a large improvement over DC vs. Mortal Kombat, and is shaping up to be the biggest fighting game of 2013. Not only have DC let Netherealm play with all of the toys in the box, allowing them to use such well known characters as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and more; they have also given Netherealm carte blanche to do what they want with their characters. There are no half measures in Injustice; an accompanying digital comic that is serving as a prequel to this game is fast becoming one of the best comics of 2013 and one of the most interesting alternate universes DC has ever offered. Seriously, it’s that good, go buy that now.
Much like Neatherealm’s Mortal Kombat 9, Injustice Gods Among Us is a 2D fighting game of the “up, down heavy punch” method rather than Street Fighter’s quarter and half circle form of combat. There’s an emphasis on launching your opponent in the air before unleashing devastating combos. Another important aspect of Injustice’s combat is stage selection. Each level is full of interactive objections and multiple tiers that you can punish your opponents with. Characters can knock their opponents through floors of the Daily Planet in Metropolis, activate booby traps laid out in the Bat-Cave and again, depending on the characters used, each interaction is slightly different – Batman sees a helicopter overhead and throws smoke bombs at it so it crashes on you. Wonder Woman just flies up, grabs the helicopter and smashes it over your head. Ouch.
Injustice would be an solid beat ‘em up without the DC license but what impressed me further about the game is the Neatherealm’s usage of some of the greatest comic book characters of all time. Rather than have bouts last “rounds” as traditional fighting games would, each character instead has three full-length health bars to burn through before they’ll be knocked out of commission. Makes sense, Superman would fight flat out before admitting defeat, having a little break would just look a bit silly. From its 30+ character roster, each character has a one-button gimmick that helps define their playing style; for instance, Batman and Green Arrow are “gadget” characters who’d unleash all manner of utility belt tricks while “power” characters such as Solomon Grundy and Black Adam gain a quick strength boost. A lot of thought has gone into making Injustice easy to pick up and play, but at the same time hard to master – the sign of any good fighting game is how long they maintain a presence on the arcade and competitive gaming circuit and little parts of Injustice, just as a pause menu information on how long special moves last in frames, show that the game is being built with this in mind.
Set for release April 19th on Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and the Wii U, everything looks set for Injustice Gods Among Us to be the fighting game of choice for 2013.