By Steve Wright
GAME NAME: Injustice: Gods Among Us
PLATFORM(S): Wii U, PS3, Xbox 360
RELEASE DATE(S): April 2013
“I guess before we get started here,” said Ed Boon, the Grandfather of Mortal Kombat and part of the powerhouse behind WB and NetherRealm’s upcoming Injustice: Gods Among Us, “I just wanted to give you a little bit of information about what we were trying to do with this game.”
It was Boon’s first time in Australia -- and he was surely jetlagged -- but you’d have never known it. Promoting another in a long line of fighting games, Boon still had an intensity and energy about him as he introduced Australian media at the EB Expo to the title.
“We really wanted to try something that would be out of the category of Mortal Kombat, but also do something that would be different in the fighting game genre. In this game, in addition to just having superheroes introduced into the mix, we also wanted to do something unique with the gameplay. The answer to how we’re going to do that is with the arenas and the role they’ll play in the fights,” Boon began.
“Our goal was to make the arena as instrumental as the characters you chose,” said Boon as he loaded up a fight between Superman and Nightwing in Future City. His statement was proven true moments later as Nightwing – who rode into the arena on a bitchin’ motorcycle – got cornered in his fight fairly quickly and used a nearby car to flip up and over Superman, avoiding a barrage of blows.
Superman retaliated, of course, by picking up the same car and pummelling Nightwing over the head with it. You can see how strategy will constantly be changing in the game as tools “Gadget” types like Nightwing use to defend can quickly become offensive weapons for “Power” players such as Superman.
We were then shown Nightwing’s super special, in which he gets back on his motorcycle to deliver a series of speedy, forceful punches. It was okay, but honestly, it was far less spectacular than Superman’s move (again, discussed at E3) – what’s a motorcycle combo when you can launch an enemy into the upper atmosphere?
Confident that he’d shown off the real impact that the game’s arenas will have in the game, Boon concluded that, “a fight between Superman and Batman will be a different fight in the Batcave than in the Fortress of Solitude.”
The next fight we were shown was Flash versus Cyborg in the Batcave. Again, it was a repeat of a similar bout shown at E3; Flash used the Batmobile’s rockets to take out Cyborg and the fight was taken from multiple levels of the Cave.
Cyborg’s super special – just like every other character’s that I activated in my hands-on session afterward – was activated using the Xbox controller’s LT + RT buttons in unison. Not difficult to achieve -- but extremely rewarding when pulled off -- Cyborg unleashed a torrent of energy from his ever transforming cybernetic limbs to devastate poor ol’ Flash.
On that note, Boon did acknowledge that there has been an attempt to make the title as accessible as possible to new gamers – hence the fairly easy super special trigger – but stressed that they were also trying to appease other groups such as DC Universe fans and hardcore fighting gamers. “We’re aware that there are a number of DC fans that aren’t fighting fans… so we’re putting in features that are accessible as possible, he confirmed. “But, for hardcore fans, there are a number of moves that can only be pulled off mid-combo. Superman has enhanced heat vision that can only be activated mid-combo. New gamers probably aren’t going to be able to pull that off, but hardcore guys will.”
Queried about the amount of freedom NetherRealm was given by DC, Boon seemed to breathe a sigh of relief. “There was a surprising amount of freedom that they gave us,” he said. “We’d worked with DC before… but other than things like ‘don’t’ mess with Superman’s “S”’ and ‘Batman, he can’t use a gun, Superman doesn’t kill’… outside of that, DC was very flexible in letting us do what we wanted to do. They let us change the costumes to fit into our art style. When a character would normally wear spandex, they let us do armour,” he said, smiling.
Boon also confirmed that NetherRealm is “going to be working on… an Injustice comic book, and that’s going to be carrying on the story and telling the events before as well,” he said, not ruling out other opportunities to carry on the Injustice brand.
Whilst being polite and dodging the question of “How do you get around the fact that Superman can only usually be hurt by assorted colours of Kryptonite” – cause, let’s face it, an invulnerable Superman in a fighting game would be lame, Boon did confirm that we’d get an answer to why the DC characters are fighting and why Batman can go head to head with Supes. Gamers are going to be treated to an 8 to 10 hour single-player story mode that covers all of the questions he anticipates DC fans will have. Likening it to the one seen in the last Mortal Kombat, Boon said, “there’s a very elaborate story in there, and I can’t wait for you guys to see the explanation as to why this is all happening.”
The story mode was written in-house at NetherRealm with extensive collaboration with DC, ensuring the superhero feel was true to the DC Universe. “This game is really the essence of the superhero game – knocking people into outer space, and doing things that are really over the top. This is the other half to the MK vs DC game,” Boon said.
What’s left to show in Injustice? Apparently, plenty. “There are some features that are going to be introduced in the future that do make the game far more interesting,” Boon teased. “There is a mode that’s also similar to Mortal Kombat’s ‘Challenge Tower’,” he also confirmed.
Greg, our resident fighting game guru (actually, one of several on staff… probably, everyone but me could claim that title…) had a chance to play through each and every available character at TGS, so look for his preview shortly.