Author: Lydia Sung
Editor: Howard Ha
Publish Date: Friday, April 26th, 2013
Originally Published on Neoseeker (http://www.neoseeker.com)
Article Link: http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Games/Reviews/injustice_gods_among_us/
Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc. - please do not redistribute or use for commercial purposes.
A game like Injustice: Gods Among Us doesn’t come around very often. Fighters don’t seem to have as much universal appeal as they once did, perhaps due in large part to the decline of public arcades. And in a genre dominated by Japanese games, Western entries tend to be incredibly rare and often dismissed.
Yet Injustice prevails in NetherRealm Studios’ capable hands, and shows surprising franchise potential. Not that a fighter based on DC Comics is all that surprising; we saw Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe back in 2008, laying down the groundwork for something entirely new.
Injustice: Gods Among Us borrows heavily from Mortal Kombat, to a point where observant players can actually feel the influence. This connection gives Injustice a unique advantage by broadening its appeal, drawing in both fans of NetherRealm’s Mortal Kombat reboot and, of course, the DC fanbase. No overlap required.
Injustice, being a new IP and all, might lack the nostalgic kick other fighter titles such as Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat (and others) have going for them. That’s where the DC part comes in, because really, can you get any more nostalgic than comic book characters like Batman, Wonder Woman, and Lex Luthor? Sure, Injustice doesn’t have the same pre-established reputation and community as its peers, but the iconic cast isn’t without appeal. And NetherRealm handles each villain and hero with the utmost care.
A campy yet incredibly dark storyline worthy of any animated DC movie introduces the roster in a setting that comic fans will feel completely at home in. For gamers who aren’t quite as fond of comic book clichés, the story might seem pretty dumb, but for Injustice, it’s more than fitting – with nanotech, a totalitarian Superman, morally bankrupt doppelgangers, and impassioned monologues. Sure, you’ll roll your eyes here and there, but these elements are what make Injustice so great.
Narrative and dialogue aside, the gameplay is also done in a way to show off the larger-than-life cast and their range of powers, or personality, for those characters without superpowers. Learning how to handle every hero and villain is certainly daunting, because the vast array of styles also gives way to some peculiar quirks. Not everyone’s Supers are activated (or blocked) the same way, and special traits (powers) mean you’re dealing with more than the typical stylistic differences in a fighter. Some powers aren’t so readily evident, either. Some are more straightforward, like Nightwing’s baton-escrima switcheroo, or Hawkgirl’s flight mode. Then you’ve got characters like Joker, who has a parry that, when successfully used, will build his meter and improve his movement speed throughout a match.
That doesn’t factor in Wagers or the interactive stages, either. Should you find yourself at a disadvantage in a match, Wagers can be activated, letting players wager their power meter for a chance to earn back lost health or deal damage, depending on who wins. Think of it as a way of leveling the playing field without being a total game-changer; in my time spent online, I’ve actually never seen anyone activate a Wager.
Interactive stages, on the other hand, are definitely worth an explanation. Every stage in Injustice has certain elements that players may activate, though how you interact with a particular object depends on the character. Tougher fighters like Wonder Woman or Doomsday can break off pieces of the stage to throw them at an opponent, while more agile characters (without prodigious strength) such as Nightwing and Green Arrow may use them navigate large distances over the stage. Stage Transitions are yet another environmental hazard, triggered by a hard kick that will send the victim from one level of the arena to another, taking damage throughout the cutscene.
Those cinematic moments are something Injustice: Gods Among Us definitely doesn’t lack. Supers, Wagers, and Transitions all lead to lengthy cinematic moments that stretch for several seconds each. You might think that, after a while, these cutscenes would start to feel stale, but thankfully they don’t. Somehow, I never tire of seeing Flash punch someone, then run around the globe a couple times before punching them again. Heck, even Aquaman manages to impress, namely by feeding his opponents to sharks. Talk about satisfying.
I can’t even begin to explain just how much content Injustice packs in. The game literally has a mode for everyone, whether you’re partial to the single-player or multiplayer. Believe me, “multiplayer” is completely accurate here, because Injustice offers up more than your typical 1v1 setup; I’m not referring to some half-arsed tag team system either.
In terms of multiplayer content, Injustice not only includes the standard Ranked matches, but a variety of “Player Matches,” which in addition to 1v1 also has a Survivor and a unique KOTH option. You read that right: King of the Hill. In this mode, eight players compete, lay down challenges to achieve (for extra XP), and bet XP on others in the match. It’s a fun distraction, for sure, but can take a little while to get the hang of. Then again, you can’t exactly fear losing when playing fighters online.
For the players who prefer to stay away from multiplayer, Injustice: Gods Among Us actually has a surprisingly robust single-player segment. A full story campaign can keep players occupied for a good four to six hours, and Battles offers a lighter alternative with the usual arcade-inspired 10-match setup and barebones story. Beyond that, S.T.A.R. Labs gives challenge-seekers a good 240 character-specific scenarios to tackle, while also getting new players acclimated to Injustice through gameplay, separate from the tutorial and training modes.
With the exception of Training, every mode will reward XP that goes toward a player level. Each level gained comes with rewards and tokens that can be used to unlock more goodies in the Archives. Fulfilling certain challenges like using 50 Super Moves, activating 25 Interactive Objects, or winning a match without throwing will unlock additional items that can then be used to customize your Hero Card, a badge that’s displayed online.
My biggest complaint, odd as it might seem, is with the Injustice mobile app. I’m normally all for cross-platform promotions, assuming they’re within reason and accessible to everyone. Injustice: Gods Among Us fails on both fronts. While the free-to-download app is a lot of fun (so I’ve heard), it was only released to iOS, cutting out a pretty huge chunk of potential players on Android and other devices. This, in itself, is rather unfortunate, but upon checking the game’s array of unlocks, I noticed that quite a few skins and customization options were tied to the app. Granted, I’m not someone who absolutely needs 100% completion on games, but I was still incredibly disappointed by this.
Not everyone will appreciate Injustice equally, either. The corny dialogue and outrageous story might throw some people off, especially if you’re not into that typical comic book fare. From a gameplay perspective, Gods Among Us feels very similar to NetherRealm’s other titles, and if you weren’t fond of the controls in Mortal Kombat, you’ll likely struggle here too.
Overall, however, I can honestly say I loved Injustice. Admittedly, I’m a huge fan of DC, having grown up on their comics, but anyone remotely familiar with the DC universe will get a huge kick out of this game. NetherRealm has done right by our favorite heroes and villains, and that’s no small feat by any means. They’ve built an entirely new IP around existing franchises, and despite whatever creative constraints, succeeded in making a solid game for both DC fans and, well, gamers. If NetherRealm and WBIE see a franchise in Injustice: Gods Among Us, consider me onboard.
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