Since I’ve been talking about this topic for the past couple of weeks, Quick Impressions seemed less appropriate this go around. While I still have had nowhere near the experience with it I feel necessary to give a full review, this is likely be the most in depth I have covered a game so far.
For those who haven’t been paying attention this past week, Injustice: Gods Among Us is a fighting game featuring DC Comics heroes and villains, and comes from Netherrealm Studios, the same team responsible for the recent Mortal Kombat reboot. A demo was released a few weeks ago, which I picked up for both PS3 and XBox for a look, which you can find here. Also, Netherealms developed an iOS version of the games, you can also find here. But now the full game is out, so it’s time to see if we have a final verdict on Injustice.
Most of what I said regarding the demo in terms of the fighting engine is the same. The system will feel slightly off to both Mortal Kombat veterans and Street Fighter fans, and will take some adjustment. Thankfully, however, the game provides a number of ways to alleviate that. The frame data on the move list in the demo is still present, so number crunching veterans can acclimate to what to use and how. The game also allows you to change up the button layout freely, making this perfect for someone using a fightstick, or a newbie with a sticky trigger finger. Additionally, you can change to an alternate control method, which changes the special attack motions from traditional Mortal Kombat style, to half-circle and quarter circle motions similar to Capcom fighters. I’ve found this helps if the player is restricted to a 360 stick for motions, though your mileage may vary (much like Max’s does here). The game will allow you to save up to 5 different presets, which is a nice feature to have.
Another feature worth mentioning is the variety of single player modes in the game. While it still has the ladder battles, similar to the one in the demo, it also includes ‘S.T.A.R. Labs’. ‘S.T.A.R. Labs’ is a quintessential mission mode which will teach some basics with the character, while also providing unique and varied objective-based matches as well. In some cases forgoing straight up fighting for quick-time based missions. Playing this mode grants stars, which will allow access to further missions as you go along.
The most important, however, is the story-mode. The story takes place primarily between two timelines — one in which the Joker nuked Metropolis and drugged Superman so he would kill his wife, and one in which this is somehow prevented. Superman of the first timeline kills his timeline’s Joker and creates a military state ruled by him and the heroes and villains that side with him. His opposition is Batman among others. Elsewhile, in the second timeline, a handful of heroes and the Joker are sucked out of their timeline into the Regime’s timeline. The player follows the characters as they learn of this world’s past, fight for it’s future, and try to find a way back home in the process.
The story is a little cooky, but that’s not out of place for comic books or fighting games. However, it offers some interesting twists and turns, and some very creative scenarios. The plot is surprising detailed as well; for instance, the whole reason someone like the Joker can get blasted by bullets from Deathstroke’s rifle and shrug it off is thanks to a pill Superman developed for his goons to prevent them from physical harm.
The major flaw in the story so far is the pacing. The story is told in chapters highlighting certain characters, and for the most part it works well. However, parts of the story tend to drag where others fly by far faster than they should. The best example is Cyborg’s chapter, where he has to team-up with an alternate timeline Deathstroke. The dialog tries to convey Cyborg’s contempt for Deathstroke, but they simply don’t have enough time in their few scenes together to really savor the tension between them. Later, however, a scene where Cyborg is counter-hacking his else-world self tends to drag as you await the inevitable fight match between the two selves. It’s also worth mentioning that Lex Luthor’s chapter is basically a plot U-turn, retelling parts of the story that already happened to catch him up so the story can continue.
Bear in mind, I only made it halfway through the story so far, so I can’t be the best judge of this yet. Overall though, while flawed, it is still enjoyable.
“Flawed, but enjoyable” remains true for other aspects of the game unfortunately. As I stated in my impressions of the demo, character models are passable for the most part, except for some glaring issues — such as Wonder Woman’s collar bone jutting out unnaturally in her default skin. Batman’s magic grappling hook returns again from the demo; I have also found that Shazam’s lighting bolts go through Luthor’s head harmlessly if he crouches down. There are some more game effecting issues out there (such as this one), but these seem to be rare and the ones I found are really just odd graphical quirks.
The last major issue I found was one that I did not really think about until I saw Maxmilian dood’s review. The game doesn’t really have much in terms of background music. The effects sound good, and the voices are top notch, but there is so little music there may as well not be any. This isn’t really a game breaker per say, after all I didn’t even notice it until I saw Max’s review, but it’s worth noting in any case.
The biggest question for a fighting game though, is multiplayer, and particularly online multiplayer. While Mortal Kombat 9 had some issues in this regard, most of these have been ironed out for Injustice. While I have yet to play anyone outside of my region, the matches I did participate in felt smooth for the most part, with only the occasional issue with lag. Online multiplayer also offers a variety of play modes — traditional ranked and unranked matches, as well as King of the Hill and Survivor modes. Survivor mode is the most enjoyable, as it’s a basic King of the Hill type mode, but the winner retaining only the health from the previous match — this means that ‘the King’ tends not to stay on the throne for very long and mixes up the fight ticket more often.
Offline multiplayer is strictly one-on-one as you would expect, but it’s worth keeping your eyes pealed on the loading screens, as they occasionally offer challenges to earn more xp at the end of the match, putting an interesting spin on the standard versus modes. It’s worth noting as well, that the xp earned here, and in other modes stays on your record and effects your ranking in online multiplayer as well.
At the end of the day, Injustice is a love letter to fighting fans of every breed. The vast assortment of single player modes and the lower bar for execution is clearly made for more casual fighting fans and new players; meanwhile, there are plenty of modes, tools, and depth that fighting veterans can enjoy it as well. When you put it together with the iOS version, the game is a much more involved and engrossing experience than anything in the genre to date. Despite it’s few flaws, the grandeur of this game behooves any true fighting game fan to at least give it a try. And for anyone not already into fighting games or comic books, this title may just change your mind on both counts.
Injustice: Gods Among Us is available from Netherrealm Studios and WB Interactive, and characters and games are property of such. Impressions were taken from 2 hours of online multiplayer, 7 hours of single player, and 5 hours of offline multiplayer on the XBox 360 version. Also, the following articles were used for reference for this review: