NetherRealm certainly made a name for themselves with their 2011 Mortal Kombat remake, so the Injustice: Gods Among Us announcement came as a pleasant surprise. The new fighter revolves around DC Comics characters, from classic favorites like Flash to recently popularized superstars like Harley Quinn.
What the developer is really stressing with Injustice is the integration of in-game stages and changing our relationship with the environment. Interactive environments may be commonly found in other genres, but their "involvement" in fighting games is pretty limited. Through Injustice, NetherRealms wants players to rethink their relationship with the stage.
The stages in Injustice are huge, often spanning multiple levels that players can hop between, and many of the details in the backdrop will come into direct play. We saw two examples of this: the Batcave and Gotham City.
In the Batcave, during a demo match between Flash and Big Blue, NetherRealms pointed out the various interactive props placed around the stage. At first glance, all these details -- Bats' costume displays, the Batmobile, overhanging cables -- seem like nothing more than aesthetic elements. Through the match, however, we saw the glass displays break, dropping two grenades that Superman then picked up and tossed in Flash's face. Later, Flash found a big red button that activated the Batmobile's rear missiles and shot them at his alien opponent. As the stage took sustained damage from the superpowered battle, cables broke to expose wires, which the fighters took turn throwing each other at.
When Sups tossed Flash hard enough against the ground to send him into the lower floor (a second level of the Batcave stage), we were treated to a cinematic sequence of the Speedster slamming against various pipes and metal frames. Similarly, when the fighters took their match back upstairs, Superman punched Flash into an awaiting elevator, and an amusing cutscene showed the fight continuing in the elevator. We didn't notice any actual damage coming out of these cutscenes, so they're probably just a visual thing.
The fight between Solomon Grundy and Batman in Gotham City saw transitions between the city streets to a skyscraper rooftop, then back down to the same building's lobby. Rinse and repeat. In the metropolitan stage, we saw Bats smash Grundy's face into a parked car and use it to detonate an explosion on his opponent; alternatively, Grundy just picked up everything in range and threw it. This is another major design factor behind Injustice, the desire to stay true to each character's unique powers and style.
Batman is an agile fighter (despite being so muscley) that relies heavily on his gadgets to counter more powerful enemies. By contrast, Grundy, being an undead and dim-witted giant, takes only the most direct and obvious paths. One can dish out damage from a distance, while the other hits hardest when up close and personal.
The debut trailer already gave us a taste of the game's Supers too, with Superman launching opponents into space and punching them back to Earth. Everyone has an over-the-top special, and they're an absolute treat to watch. Overall, Injustice is a surprisingly cinematic fighter.
Smaller details like the way Batman draws his cape around himself in defensive moves or how Flash can't seem to stop moving at any given time are nice touches on NetherRealm's part. This emphasis on each character's individuality was definitely apparent and nice to see, especially for DC fans.