Category Archives: Injustice

Let’s Play – Injustice: Gods Amoung Us

Nyuuron challenges Katsa to Injustice: Gods Amoung Us with some variant rules.

Of DC and DLC

A few days ago before I shut down for the night, I saw an article showing an image of Batgirl for Injustice on Xbox Live.  I didn’t think much about it, and went to bed.  The next morning, I hear from Maximilian that all four characters were revealed. Some research determined that these were pulled from data-mined files on the disk, so the likelihood of these characters is pretty strong at this point.

This has caused a pretty heavy storm of rage on the internet.  Every comic book fan had some opinion on the cast of Injustice before, and now that the presumed “full” cast has been revealed, even more are surfacing.

Given my penchant for analyzing characters in a fighting game, I figured who better to talk about the four newcomers to Injustice than myself.  So then, a brief explanation of the incorporation of the last 4 characters on the roster.

Lobo

I’ll admit, the first words out of my mouth when I was told Lobo was announced was “Who?”  Apparently, I’m not alone either.  I was going to chalk him up to an oddball inclusion decision like Killer Frost, until I did a little Wikapedia diving.

Lobo does have a following, thought mostly in comic book and DC Comics circles though.  An alien bounty hunter, Lobo was conceived as a parody of the Punisher and Wolverine, but managed to come into his own afterward.  He’s rude, crude, and has a lust for vengence, lending him perfect for a fighting game.

Knowing this, it makes sense why Lobo would lead the wave of DLC additions.  He’s a character mostly popular in circle that pay attention to the more B-list heroes, meaning he doesn’t have a strong draw on his own.  Therefore, releasing him close to the initial launch of the game while it’s still fresh, gives him a better chance at selling in large amounts.  Comic fans who haven’t put the game down yet will scoop him up, and non-comic book fans that like the game are more likely to buy him anyway.

Moving forward, however, the strategy has to change, however, since the next three characters will have to me a significant draw on their own.

Batgirl

Ask anyone to list off female characters in DC Comics, you’ll probably get Wonder Woman, Harlequinn, Poison Ivy, Catwoman.  Chances are though Batgirl will be very high on that list for most of the general public.  That’s not on accident.  While there are plenty of other super heroines to choose from — such as Powergirl, Huntress, and Batwoman — Batgirl is more well known to the masses at large, and thus an easy choice for inclusion in Injustice.

This is one of the characters getting the most amount of heat right now for two reasons: a) there are too many Batman characters in Injustice already, and b) she is perceived to have abilities too similar to Batman.

For the first argument, I agree that the Batman franchise makes up a goodly portion of the cast.  In a cast of 24, 6 are Batman characters, which equals a fourth of the cast.  It’s pretty easy to argue that the Batman franchise doesn’t need anymore representation.  However, with all four DLC characters in tow, there will be a total of 28 characters in the cast, and adding Batgirl boosts the Batman characters to 7.  Some quick math, and it seems Batgirl’s inclusion isn’t growing their representation as much as it just maintains it.

For the second, I also agree that Batgirl and Batman have similarities.  However, my understanding is that Batgirl wasn’t trained by Batman or anyone directly affiliated with him.  She was raised by Commissioner Gordon (her father), and is also considered the most intelligent and tech-savy of Bat family — as evidenced as her tenure as the Oracle.  In contrast, Nightwing was raised and trained by Batman, but he has his own separate fighting style; therefore, how much different would Batgirl’s be having neither of these?  While their tools may be similar, the way they use them will most likely be very different.

In addition, since there have been a number of renditions of Batgirl over the years, she lends herself to more sell-able skins later on as well.

General Zod

Not a standard DC villian, Zod is a Kryptonian renegade who severs as a foil to Superman.  He’s a DC character that is most note-worthy for his appearance in the movie ‘Superman II,’ than any of the comics.

He is however, the villain (or one of the villians) of the upcoming ‘Man of Steel’ film.  This is pretty much the only explanation of his inclusion, but it’s a pretty strong one- two punch marketing-wise.  The game releases a character that is featured in the film, thus promoting the film; and the film featuring a character who is downloadable for the game.

Besides that, Superman’s supporting cast generally does feature other Kryptonians, such as Supergirl or Powergirl.  Having a Kryptonian villian serves as a good Superamn representaion anyway.  Regardless, however, Zod’s worth or lack of worth as a character is a moot point.  Even if he is the worst addition from the Superman comics, the marketing strategy makes the risk worth all the reward.

Scorpion

If I were to hate on any of these choices, this would be it.  The number one argument against Scorpion’s inclusion is the most obvious — he’s not a DC Comics character.

Scorpion, for those who are unaware, is one of the flagship characters from the Mortal Kombat series, which comprised Netherrealms Studios last couple of projects.  Scorpion is a ninja seeking out vengeance for the genocide of his clan, which is a backstory that is pretty far off left field for a tie into Injustice.

There are pretty much two things I can argue with Scorpion however: he will not be a lazy port as some may suspect, and he will be coming last among these DLC characters.

First, Scorpion cannot, and indeed will not be just a lazy port of the character from MK 9.  In order for Injustice to keep their ‘T’ rating, they can’t take the violent fatality moves or any of his more gory attacks with him.  This leaves his more basic attacks and traditional specials to work with.  Also, Injustice is a very different game than Mortal Kombat 9 was.  The button layout alone is very different, as is movement and blocking, so Scorpion will have to be adapted to this new format in some way.

Secondly, and most importantly, Scorpion will be coming last in the series of DLC.  By the point he is intended to release, most of the hype from the game will have waned considerably.  Any characters that launch long after a game’s release have to be considerable draws on their own.  Scorpion, while not quite a household name, is much more well known among gamers than any of the other DLC characters, and probably most of the regular cast.  It’s also worth considering the amount of hype guest and cross-over characters have gotten in previous fighting games — such as Link in Soul Calibur 2, Kratos in Mortal Kombat 9, or Akuma in X-Men: Children of the Atom.

Scorpion is a really odd choice for a game featuring DC Comics characters, but since it’s a fighting game, it’s not so terrible.

But of course, the tragedy here is that the huge gallery of DC Comics characters will be passed over in getting the video game treatment, and will still be restricted to the realm of comic books.  However, every comic book fan has to start somehwere; I suspect many will start here.

Did your favorite character get passed up?  Are you purchasing any of the DLC, or will you pass on these options?  Let us know in the comments.

Quick Impressions: Injustice: Gods Among Us (console)

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:

http://o.canada.com/2013/04/16/interview-ed-boon-discusses-mortal-kombats-inspiration-and-injustice-gods-among-us/

http://nureviewsnetwork.com/2013/04/17/injustice-glitches-among-us

http://o.canada.com/2013/04/18/review-injustice-gods-among-us-simplifies-the-fighting-game-genre/

Miles923’s Injustice review, and Tutorial

Quick Impressions: Injustice: Gods Among Us (iOS)

As a nice surprise last week, NetherRealms Studios released the Injustice iOS game two weeks before the console release (April 16th).  Is this just another blatant cash grab on the iOS?  Well, that’s a bit obvious isn’t it?  I suppose the question is then, does the game have any particular merit of it’s own?

Injustice: Gods Among Us for the iOS shares some traits of the regular console release — it’s a fighting game and it features DC Comics heroes and villains fighting each other.  Other than featuring character models and animations from the game, the similarities pretty much end there however.

The game is part fighting game, part collectible card game, with other elements thrown in.  The fights are one- on-one, but you create a team of three from the character cards you have available.  Tapping and sliding your finger performs combos on your opponent, and each version of each character has 3 special attacks they can use with the various levels of their super meter.  You can block by “holding two fingers” on the screen, though you will still take chip damage.  I found blocking the most peculiar of the controls; it won’t detect it unless the two fingers are spread, making your thumbs the best option here.  Characters will level up as they participate in fights, which increases their stats and opens up new special attacks to perform.

The first big elephant in the room is that this game is free-to-play, but has the option to purchase things as most free-to-play models do.  The game thankfully limits you to purchasing coins, the game’s in-game currency, which can also be obtained from battles.  You can also purchase the starter pack for $4.99, which gets you three uncommon character cards.  This is a very generous boost, but you can only purchase the starter pack once.

The shop also lets you use your coins to purchase booster packs, in common, uncommon, and rare varieties, as well as individual cards.  Buying booster packs is the better deal, since you get a character and two upgrade cards per pack, but they are randomized.  Individual character cards can cost as much, and most times more than the booster packs they can come in, but the trade is you get a character you want.  Coins are also spent on support cards, as well as upgrading your cards with stronger or more powerful abilities, and recharging energy when/if you run out of free recharges.

After level 10 or so, as enemies become more and more powerful, and can easily kill a character with limited or no upgrades with a single special attack, even if they block. This makes upgrades a must, so coins are important.  The player can earn coins through completing or replaying missions.  If playing without spending money is the goal, replaying the same missions over and over is the easiest, if not drollest option.

The alternative is to be incredibly clever with your team, and earn more coins by completing the newest available mission without copious amounts of grinding.  Different characters have particular strengths and weaknesses, and many difficult match-ups can be solved with a little quick thinking.  For instance, Lex Luthor has the ability to drain part of an enemy’s super gauge with only one bar of his own super gauge.  This can prevent a brute like Bane from ripping through his armor in one massive blow if he keeps ahead of him on meter.  However, this won’t work forever, as while Bane is on the field, his team on the sidelines is building meter as well, so you still have to watch for the inevitable tag out.  This is pretty tricky to keep ahead of, and so grinding or paying for coins is almost inevitable.

The other big elephant in the room is the cross-promotion with the console version.  Setting up a WB id will allow you to unlock content on the console version from the iOS version, and vice-versa.  Honestly, this is why I was interested in it in the first place, and I’m sure plenty of others were as well.  Most of the rewards are just icons and backgrounds for your multiplayer tile in the console version.  The only major exceptions being Batman’s Batman Beyond skin, Harlequinn’s Arkham City skin, and Bane’s Knightfall skin.  The creators were very crafty, however, as you can only purchase coins in $3, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100 increments.  $10 is enough to buy the cheapest Joker card to unlock Harlequinn’s skin, and maybe a few other cheaper cards.  $20 is enough to buy Batman’s cheapest card, but not enough to buy the Joker too.  Bane’s requires obtaining 30 different character cards as well, making just buying the skins incredibly expensive.  This also sets up the biggest conundrum in the game, which is what to spend coins on.  Save up to buy the Joker, or take a chance on getting him or Batman in the cheaper booster pack?

That describes the conundrum of the game itself really?  Is it worth picking up, and if so worth spending money on?  Despite the issues with blocking controls, it controls pretty well, and I would recommend the iPad version for anyone with large thumbs though, for this very reason.  It can get redundant and repetitive at times though.  Also, unless the developers plan on updating the cross-promotion rewards as they go, I don’t think many will stick around after they’ve unlocked everything they set out to get.  Otherwise, if you need a fix before Injustice comes out next week, this will definitely keep you occupied. Since it’s free-to-play so there’s no real reason not to try it out if you’re interested.

Review based on iPhone and iPad version of the game, which was played for 7 hours in several separate play sessions.

Quick Impressions: Injustice: Gods Among Us (Demo)

Ironically, I had more issues with the style than the substance of Netherrealms last venture, Mortal Kombat.  Coming from a Capcom fighter background for the most part, I didn’t particularly care for the character models or how they moved.  The hyper-violence wasn’t a turn off per say  though that drove it from the house when the youngling was on the way.  Overall, I just didn’t care for the look or feel of the game very much.

In spite of that, I still respect it.  It had a large variety of characters and modes, integrated online play, and easily the best Story mode in a fighting if not ever, than in a very long time.  I would highly recommend it to any fighting game fan, it just didn’t fit my particular sensibilities.

So the question for me then, is Netherrealms’ newest game ‘Injustice’ going to assuage any of those concerns?

If the demo was any indication, maybe.

The game will be focusing on pitting the greatest DC Comics heroes and villains against each other.  This means the violence has been toned down to make a palatable Teen rating.  There will also be a story mode depicting why the heroes all are fighting, but that wasn’t available in the demo — I’ll reserve comment on that for later.

The demo only features Batman, Wonder Woman, and Lex Luthor as playable characters, and Doomsday as a single player boss.  The ‘Battles’ mode has you fight through the available characters in the Gotham City stage.  It doesn’t allow for much variety to be sure, but it was enough to give a decent impression of what to expect.

Right away it seems this game is catering to the growing fighting game community.  The move list on the pause menu lists not only every attack the character can perform, but also the damage the attacks do, as well as their various frame data.  This feature will serve to ease newer gamers into these concepts, while old-school gamers will have less number crunching to do on their own, and be able to determine ‘safe’ or ‘meaty’ attacks for each character that much faster.

The game takes a different approach than other fighters though by not sticking to the standard 4 or 6 button layout.  Instead, there are 3 main attack buttons, and a special button that activates and/or uses your character’s special ability (such as switching between whip and sword for Wonder Woman, or activating Lex Luthor’s energy shield).  The buttons on top of the standard controller (RB, LB, RT, LT, or L1, R1, L2, R2) are used to grab enemies, interact with the environment, or power up attacks, i.e. EX moves.  You can also perform these with some combinations of face buttons as well, though the triggers will likely be easier for those using a regular controller.

The characters themselves don’t look bad, and I dare say are an improvement over Mortal Kombat’s designs.  There are still some issues, however minor.  Battle damage does occur to the characters and some of it, particularly on Wonder Woman, looks a little cheap and tacked on.  There are some quirks as well with Lex Luthor’s head just looking too doll like when focused on (particularly during his super), and Doomsday’s braided ponytail always hanging over his shoulder, regardless of how is head is turned.  Another bit of strangeness is when Batman’s grappling hook magically moves upwards to grab a jumping opponent in the chest when he clearly would have hit them in the foot.

This is mostly water under the bridge however, as the gameplay is still exciting and engaging.  The AI on Medium and Hard difficulty really kept me on my toes in single player, while never feeling as though it was cheating.  The AI actually taught me a couple of combos and mechanics for Lex Luthor, which would have taken me a long time to discern on my own.

While I still withhold final judgement for how the rest of the game turns out, the appetizer presented to us this week keeps me optimistic about this game’s full release on the 16th.

Injustice: Gods Among Us is property of Warner Brothers.  Impressions based on two hours of single player on the PS3 demo.