Review: Injustice: Gods Among Us
GAME NAME: Injustice: Gods Among Us
PLATFORM(S): Wii U, PS3, Xbox 360
RELEASE DATE(S): 17 April 2013
It’s a curious thing when games break street date in Australia. Sure, gamers are happy to get their hands on shiny, new things – and early, too – but usually it’s at some other price. Take Aliens: Colonial Marines for instance. Gamers were elated to buy the game super early, only to find out that they’d almost been conned into buying the lemon before sites should publish their damning reviews.
Let me be the first to say that you don’t need to worry about the Aliens formula with Injustice: Gods Among Us. Hell, you don’t even have to worry about something a bit closer to home: Injustice is nothing like Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe.
For starters, this game has heart. That, and answers. Delicious, delicious answers, and for everything.
Whilst in a media Q&A with none other than Ed Boon, creator of Mortal Kombat and head honcho on Injustice, I laughed as valuable question time was used asking just how Batman and Nightwing could square off in a fighting game against the nigh-invulnerable Superman. Rather than brushing off the question, Boon said all would be explained. He wasn’t lying either (and don’t worry, I won’t ruin it).
Injustice is all about those little things, from explaining how Harley Quinn could survive a punch from Solomon Grundy, to setting up how our beloved DC characters have found themselves in a highly combative environment, squaring off against one another. Injustice is all about littering levels with references to DC properties, big and small, giving you the chance to try to spot them all. In short: Injustice is all about fan service.
If you’ve been following the Injustice comic series, written by none other an Australia’s Tom Taylor, you won’t be disappointed in how it all pays off. If you haven’t been reading the series, SHAME ON YOU! That being said, there’s no need for you to worry, as Injustice’s storyline is quite contained and explains all you need to know. From there, the single-player Battle mode furthers the universe that Injustice thrusts you into and delves into the backstory of each character, giving them all the recognition they deserve. There's nothing to fault with Story mode apart from the super-ramped up difficulty that you'll experience right near the end of the tale.
As great as the game’s story is, it’d be nothing without a decent combat system; after all, fan service aside (and I'll admit it's hard to see through at times), Injustice is a fighting game. Thankfully, there’s a complex battle system in-game, with combos, juggling and everything else that hardcore types will expect. I learned this the hard way as I took on several – SEVERAL -- Ranked multiplayer matches last night and got juggled almost non-stop through each and every match. Ouch. I'm a novice at fighting games, so I couldn't tell you if I was fighting those with, or dudes who'd already figured out how to exploit Injustice's combat systems.
If you're like me and not too skilled at fighting, Injustice has been designed to deliver ridiculously epic comic book battles without requiring the use of double-jointed digits. Transitions between level area to level area – the front of Wayne Manor to a room inside, as an example – are relatively easy to pull off, but nonetheless require positioning, timing and a bit of luck on the side. When you pull them off, it’s absolutely delicious; your opponent gets pummelled, double-page spread style, and you can just sit back and enjoy the spectacle.
The S.T.A.R. Labs mode in Injustice replaces Mortal Kombat's challenge tower, and you can tell that NetherRealm has thrown their heart and soul into the mode. Each character has their own set of missions that they'll have to overcome, set up in ten chapter story modes. Additional DLC packs like Superman's "Red Son" scenario also take place within S.T.A.R. Labs too. All up, you'll have over 250+ missions to throw yourself at, with up to three stars being awarded per mission… if you can meet all of the mission challenges, that is. As fun as they are, they're also damned frustrating; I've accepted the fact that I'll never get all of S.T.A.R. Labs' stars, and therefore will never see the cool unlock promised to those who can.
Thankfully, I gained additional unlocks from another source – the free-to-play iOS version of Injustice. By linking a WBID, I gained access to additional costumes on both its console and mobile platforms – a Batman Beyond skin for Batman on 360, and a "Knightfall" Bane costume on iOS, to name a couple. It's a nice little add-on to the game that you can get a lot of benefit from, not to mention being a great way to get your Injustice fix when you're on the road. Sadly, the WBID/gamertag link doesn't look like it supports multiple consoles; my primary 360 has "Stevivor" as a level 34 warrior, while my secondary 360 started me off at level 1 again, even after I tried using the same cloud-based game save. Hopefully that little glitch gets addressed in the future.
All up, Injustice: Gods Among Us is a DC fan's wet dream. Equal parts polished mechanics and fan service, you don't need to be a fighting game fan to enjoy it. As an aside, it's great to see Warner Bros. finally appreciating its DC Comics properties and spending time and energy on an inspiring cross-media release for the title. While fighting games are great, I think I'm most excited about what Warner Bros. will learn from this exercise and how they'll apply that knowledge to DC games in other genres down the road. Bring it on.
Update: If you've held off on buying Injustice thus far, the PS4's Ultimate Edition bundles the main game with a ton of DLC, including 30 new skins, 6 new characters -- Zatanna, Zod, Lobo, Scorpion, Batgirl and the Martian Manhunter -- along with 60 new S.T.A.R. Labs Missions. You really can't go wrong with it.