Developers: NeatherRealm Studios (Main game), High Voltage Software (Ps4 & PC port), Armature Studios (Vita port)
Publisher: Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment
Release Date: April 16th, 2013 (most versions), November 12th, 2013 (PC & Vita), November 15, 2013 (Ps4)
Available on: Nintendo Wii U, PC, Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Playstation Vita, Xbox 360
Outside of the Arkham games, the DC universe has sort of been aching for success in video games. One really odd one was the T-rated Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe. While the game was fun, the inclusion of DC Universe characters in a Mortal Kombat game just felt completely off. So hot off the success of the recent Mortal Kombat reboot we have NetherRealm Studios drop the Mortal Kombat characters and make a DC Universe fighting game.
Similar to the Mortal Kombat reboot, Injustice features a surprisingly fleshed out story mode. After Joker nukes Metropolis and kills Lois Lane and her son, Superman loses his shit and rips Joker’s heart out before assigning himself as the world’s dictator. Skip ahead five years and the remaining superheroes are either helping Superman or dead. As a last ditch effort Batman brings in some heroes from an alternate universe to help him bring down Superman, but accidentally bringing in a second Joker as well. The premise is really great and it feels like there’s potential for an interesting plot here. It’s awesome seeing a completely different light on a lot of the heroes and villains in the DC Universe. The bad news is that the execution kind of falls apart. The game is really Batman heavy, which shouldn’t be a bad thing normally but it feels like it’s sacrificing other characters to throw Batman in your face more. It’s especially bad when Batman not only gets more chapters than any other character, but also crashes Wonder Woman’s chapter to become the main focus again. Characters that would have benefited from having chapters devoted to them, most notably Harley Quinn, feel like their plot strings get cut short for more Batman. Then there’s characters like Bane, Hawkgirl, Soloman Grundy, Ares, and Killer Frost who all feel like they are only there because they’re on the roster of characters and not because they have actual roles in the plot.
Despite the story’s failing, the story mode is still well worth playing. It’ll let you familiarize yourself with a good chunk of the playable characters in Injustice, and also get the fighting system down. Anyone who played the Mortal Kombat reboot should have an idea of how the game works. All fighting happens in a 2D arena, and each character has a unique set of moves they can utilize. Each time you hit the enemy you can build up your super meter, which you can then choose to spend in various different ways. Use it to buff up your normal attacks, like blowing up Joker’s laughing gas tanks. Or use them to counter enemies, giving you an opening to attack. If you want you can build the bar up all the way and blow it all on a heavy damaging cinematic super attack. Each stage also has several interactable objects in it. Each character interacts with the objects in different ways. A agile character may use it as a spring board to jump behind the other fighter, a tech based character could put a bomb on it to blow it up, while a strong character may lift it up and smash it into the enemy.
Each character also has their own special character ability, which helps insure that no two characters are the same. Some of the character abilities are simply more attacks. Green Arrow can load up special arrows to fire at his opponent, while Ares can summon his sword and axe. Others, like Wonder Woman and Nightwing, can switch between two different fighting styles. Killer Frost can buff her attacks to freeze enemies, Deathstroke can make his bullets unblockable, Cyborg can repair himself, and Lex Luthor can put up a shield that negates damage from a few attacks. My personal favorite came from Harley Quinn, who could pull one of three random items out of a box, each of which had a different effect. The character abilities are smart, and they add an extra unique depth to each character that requires you to stay on your toes.
For those not interested in online play, there’s tons of singleplayer content for them here. Besides the aforementioned campaign, there’s also the battles mode, which works similar to an arcade mode. Classic Battle mode has you play one character and go through 10 fights before getting their own personalized ending. There’s also a good set of different options for you to pick from, so you can go through battle mode only fighting heroes or villians, or take on every fighter with only one life. Bigger than that is the S.T.A.R.S Labs, which gives each character a set of 10 unique challenges wrapped around a very simple story. Some of them are based around fights with unique conditions, like a Superman challenge where you start with only a quarter health but can regain by standing in sunbeams. Others have you blocking incoming missiles using Batman’s counter attacks. The best challenges are the ones that change up the game completely. Killer Frost has a challenge that turns the game into a 2D platformer, having her duck and jump over lasers to escape the Fortress of Solitude. Black Adam flies into space and shoots asteroids with his laser eyes. Catwoman sends her cat to sneak through a museum to steal diamonds. It’s really cool seeing the amount of different challenges there are.
For those considering the game it’s worth noting the the definitive edition is a must. It comes with all 6 of the extra characters added to the game (including a guest appearance from Mortal Kombat’s Scorpion.) It also comes with the extra Red Son storyline, which adds 20 more S.T.A.R.S Lab missions based around a comic arc where Superman lands in Russia instead of America. They don’t do much with it, but it’s a nice little addition to have. The extra characters are far more important though, and bring the already beefy fighting roster up to new heights.
Injustice: Gods Among Us isn’t just a great DC Universe game, it’s also a great fighting game. While the story is a little weak it’s more than made up by the deep and rewarding combat system, and the extremely fun S.T.A.R.S Labs missions. If you’re looking for a new fighting game to play, or are simply a fan of the DC Universe, then Injustice is a must.