By Greg Newbegin
As some of you may know, I'm a huge fan of the Mortal Kombat series, and actually started a concerted effort to collect the titles only in the past year. The last game - MK9 - was triumphant in that it was the first fighting game in a very long time that made me realise that fighting games were worth paying full price for. For a long time, I enjoyed fighters, but just couldn't justify the purchase.
Injustice: Gods Among Us is the next title from NetherRealm Studios, the creators of the Mortal Kombat series, and it must be mentioned that this is entirely separate title from the MK universe. That said, it has a look and feel very much like MK9, and the DC characters will remind many of MK vs DC Universe (a.k.a. MK8). However, this will be my last reference to MK for this preview...
Bucking the trend, I selected Superman out of a roster of 8 characters that DID include Batman (I overheard the booth companion mentioning in Japanese that she was surprised by my choice as most people choose Batman). The single-player experience allowed me to combat all other characters before my 10 minutes was up (although admittedly I lost to Wonder Woman in the end, and had to concede to the next person in line... sniff).
The game is great. I wasn't given enough (read: any) guidance in terms of special moves, but I was able to figure some of them out in my time, just as Steve did when playing. Attacks are solid and smooth, and there really is a feeling of contact when you hit someone. Each character has two health bars, and there is a slight pause in gameplay when one is depleted - this means the fight is essentially a single bout, but provides a little breathing room at points throughout. In some ways, this works, but it mostly just comes across as an attempt to thinly disguise the same old mechanic as something new. This is not REALLY a bad thing; I guess the reality is that a real fight like this wouldn't happen in rounds.
I also got to play around the the "Wager" system, in which the two characters go head-to-head and have to bet a portion of their super meter to come out on top; the highest wager means victory. It's an interesting mechanic, and one that can come at a cost -- if you bet all of your meter, you'll win the clash, but have no meter left for super special moves... Regardless, I'm left to wonder if that system will just mean that everyone constantly goes all-in to ensure they win that particular struggle.
I think I played in two environments - the Batcave, and what looked like Solomon Grundy's level - however, I can't really be sure as they both looked quite similar. It may be that NetherRealm are keeping some of the flashier locations up their sleeves for now.
Presentation-wise, it was very slick, and had the usual NetherRealm feel. It was clearly a demo build as there were few options and only 8 playable characters, but the animations were gorgeous (as were the backdrops) and the sound effects were spot on.
Overall, the game felt very much like the last title that NetherRealm made - and that's a GREAT thing. Depending on how the story mode is applied, it could definitely be a worthy purchase for fighting game fanatics. The code I played essentially just took me from one level to another, with little to no story between.
There are a number of questions I have after playing the game - how will the story play out? Are there "Test Your Might" levels or equivalents? How much content will there be to unlock, and how will this be achieved? Is there anything NEW that NetherRealm is going to add (as the previous questions are all assumptions based on the MK franchise)? Time will tell.
I guess there's not much need for me to say this, but I'll be grabbing this particular title on launch day.