Looks like Netherealm are taking another crack at utilising the DC comic characters in their latest game, Injustice: Gods Among Us. Their last cross over with the super heroes wasn’t received so well and now with no Mortal Kombat characters in sight, can this be the game it was destined to be? Or will it go down the same path as Mortal Kombat vs. DC?
With most fighters, you would expect the narrative to either be dull or just downright confusing, however with Injustice: Gods Among Us these expectations were quickly shattered as I enjoyed the narrative throughout.
In an alternate reality, Joker tricks Superman into destroying Metropolis along with Lois Lane and his unborn son. In a fit of rage, Superman kills the Joker and forms a new world order called the Regime, where the law is a lot more harsher towards criminals and those that do not join him get disposed of. Batman, not pleased with how Superman has changed his ways goes on to form his own group called Insurgency and a battle breaks out between the two. The Insurgency discovers the Justice League's universe where Joker's plan did not succeed and transports several of its super heroes to theirs in order to help them defeat the Regime.
For most narratives that come along with a fighting title, I believe the one for Injustice: Gods Among Us was done pretty well and its use of cutscenes helped to further explain events and keep the story well paced. It was also interesting to see the alternate versions of our heroes and villains giving us a different perspective on the characters and in turn, blurring the line between good and evil.
For Mortal Kombat players, Injustice: Gods Among us will feel familiar however with a few key differences that makes its combat a little more unique compared to most fighters seen from Netherealm in the past.
So there are a few modes to choose from, some of which feel familiar while others stray away from the standard I fight you and add interesting challenges to keep things fresh. Battle is where the old school ladder style takes place as you go through opponents one by one and at the climax, view your chosen character’s ending. What was done here to keep things a little different was the addition of different stipulations involving different ladder style battles. Play only against heroes or villains or perhaps you want to challenge yourself more and try to beat a randomly selected series of heroes and villains in 30 seconds?
Next up is Star Labs, a challenge mode in which you are presented with a set of missions and a certain amount of conditions to pass a mission. Each mission is ranked out of three stars and if you manage to complete it all, you’ll get the full rank. Each character has their own set of missions and in a way, they have their own mini stories running throughout them such as Superman looking for Lois Lane or Batman rounding up the escaped inmates of Arkham Asylum adding a little context to why you are actually doing these things. All in all it’s a nice step back from the usual one on one fighting affair and serves as a sort of quirky yet interesting addition to the game without it feeling like something that shouldn't be there.
As you play through the game you will earn different unlockables that can be used online such as icons and backgrounds. Playing through the various modes and levelling up will allow you to unlock access cards which can be used to unlock costumes and various pieces of artwork varying from character sketches to environmental images in the archives.
The one big thing that has changed is that there is finally… no block button! The relief and joy I felt when I discovered this made my day as I never understood why you would need something like that in the past. While everyone wouldn't agree with me, I believe its absence lets us concentrate on the more important things such as fighting back and with a full roster of heroes each with their own unique skills and abilities, there’s more than one way to do just that. As soon as you boot up the game, Injustice: Gods Among Us treats you to a useful and quick tutorial which is designed to bring you up to speed on the game’s controls and combat style. This will allow you to jump into the action straight away, however if you wish to be inflicting those big damage combos, there’s also a training mode available which lets you view character moves, combos and even goes as far as to show you each one’s frame data for the more hardcore of us.
The combat itself is pretty deep from the fighting game standpoint however a few features have been added to bring a more fun factor to battles. To start off, like with Mortal Kombat, Injustice: Gods Among includes the use of meters which can increase the power of normal moves and extend your combos but that’s not all; meter is also used for a sort of mini game called Wager where you essentially wager your meter on a huge clash that takes place in the middle of the screen. It becomes a lot more easier to guess who wins in the exchange when there is a notable difference between how much meter you and your opponent have, however when its exactly the same, your essentially playing a game of chicken to see who’s willing to sacrifice the most. This feature is especially useful when you’re getting locked down and if you have the lower life and win, you get some of it back essentially bringing yourself back into the game. The final area the meter is useful for is performing your characters special move, now these are some of the most devastating attacks in the game and can really turn the tide of a match in your favour should it connect.
Going back to my earlier point regarding features that put emphasis on the title's fun factor, the game expresses this greatly through the use of the environment. While you have your own set of moves and such, you can also use objects within the environment to your advantage. whether it’s the motorbike parked in front of Bruce Wayne’s Mansion or the Monitors/Screens in Arkham Asylum, it’s a level of interactivity that truly made me feel that I was in a brawl with no limitations. Now while there are objects that can literally be thrown, there are also set pieces within the environment that you can interact with by knocking your opponent into them whereas your opponent goes on to bounce right off of the object and back to you, this is useful when looking to extend combos or dish out more damage. Lastly, you can transition between environments by hitting opponents at the edge of a stage in which they go on to smashing through several buildings, getting hit by a speeding train and landing in the next area.
Overall I felt that the combat itself was fun, there really isn't much of a timing issue when it came to performing moves/ combos as I believe that the game was very lenient about it. I really liked the idea of the whole wager your meter mechanic and felt that it added a sense of strategy to your battles. Do you use only normal attacks and build meter or do you use your meter at the right moments to make your offence as strong as possible? The only downside being that the roster itself doesn't seem to be very balanced and that some characters totally own others in terms of their move set and general options when attacking and defending, something I'm sure Netherealm will look to address in the near future especially with DLC characters on the way.
Like with most fighting titles, you have the ability to play against someone sitting next to you in Versus or take your skills online and test your batarang or super strength against those from around the world but how do the matches fair? Well they play pretty smoothly for the most part and while not as responsive as playing someone locally, there isn't too much of a delay that would ruin your chance to pull off those combos.
Unfortunately there is no specific kind of lobby system when picking an opponent therefore you could be matched up with anyone; however you can set up private matches and play with friends to ensure the best possible connection. One cool thing is that every day there will be a challenge up for you to complete online which earns you a significant amount of XP. These vary from character to character and usually involve completing a set amount of moves over a series of matches.
Ranked match is where it actually matters and essentially its the mode that decides where you'll be placed on the world leaderboards. As I mentioned before, there is no actual way to pick your opponent as the game does that for you however to date, I haven’t experienced any kind of lag which completely ruined the match for me. At some points it can take a little time to find an actual opponent but the good thing being that it usually matches you up with someone closer to your level. Other modes such as King of the Hill play the winner stays on format where the winner goes on to challenge the next opponents in line until they lose. A little cool feature they added was the ability to vote who you thought was going to win before the match started with XP awarded if you chose correctly.
Character models were detailed and animations looked to run relatively smooth, this comes to the front especially when characters are performing their super moves. Similar to Mortal Kombat, the environments come to life as a lot seems to be happening in the background making things seem a lot more realistic as things don’t tend to just stand still however in saying this, it was good to see the environment change with the battle without anyway weird tears or missing textures.
Sound in the game was done pretty well and I felt that the characters came across as pretty believable when dishing out and receiving damage, however I thought that some of the voice overs during the cutscenes were pretty bland and did nothing to make the story feel more impactful to the viewer.
Injustice: Gods Among Us is a fun fighter that seems to get all its elements together in a right way. The use of the environment during battles is great and the combat seems to be well thought out for those new to the game and those who wish to delve deeper and add a more technical aspect to their play. Interestingly enough I really enjoyed the narrative in the story mode however I do feel that it kind of ended a bit abruptly although it was done in a way which left things open for a sequel. Overall it’s a solid fighter and I’d like to see more of it.
Story = 8.5/10
Gameplay = 10/10
Graphics/ Sound = 9/10
Final We Know Gamers Score = 9.1/10