geraltitude's Injustice: Gods Among Us (iPad) review

Fun for a Flash, Not Worth the Cash

A little known fact is that Injustice: Rapid Swipe was very nearly the final name for this product before focus groups got their filthy hands on it.

Every now and then a game comes along that makes me question my approach to reviews. Normally I try to review games on two sliding scales: the first measures the game only against itself, what its systems and presentation promise and aspire to; the second measures the game against similar and noteworthy titles on the platform. The problem with the App Store is that the muck is so widespread and godawful that every time you play a game that's just fine, it seems great. Because Injustice is free, I'm not going to tell you to not try it - if you're a big enough fan of superheroes and/or fighting games, it's absolutely worth just poking at - but don't spend your money here.

While all the tapping and swiping combat is well done enough, it brings nothing new to the table, and certainly doesn't inspire repeated playing. You do not move the characters here (they always close the gap automatically), and instead just tap to attack, special move or block - it's very Infinity Blade, which is a good companion game to mention: 1 on 1 fighting, 2D combat, 3D graphics. Now, if the graphics and touch fighting in Infinity Blade was your cup of tea - you will probably enjoy playing Injustice. That said, the economy in Infinity Blade is (wait for it) infinitely more generous and player friendly than Injustice, which is an absolute and utter grind, through and through. This is my major beef.

Though the game is periodically fun it largely feels clumsy and unbalanced, and the satisfaction of playing punch the standing meatbag with DC heroes wears off fast. Blocking, for example, which requires you to put two fingertips on the iPad, never seems to register when you think it should. This problem is exacerbated by the game trying so hard to force you into buying cards (which unlock characters and special abilities) by matching you against CPUs who can 1-shot you (even while blocking) unless you arrive properly "equipped". The fact that the characters you earn are low level, and require you to either backtrack and refight old enemies you already fought a 100 times - the game spreads its combatants out in a linear fashion, so you tend to fight the same ones over and over again for a while before being introduced to anyone new - or equip the character and simply not use them, is really just a huge fun sink. While it makes sense that a game with microtransactions is inherently designed with that in mind, Injustice feels like a game that was squished into a Monetization Machine. Hey, this setup here makes money - now shove this game in! While you do freely earn an in-game currency that allows you to buy the same things as your real money, you accumulate it way too slowly. Oh and there's an energy (huge sigh) mechanic. If you don't know what that means, you will soon.

Ohhh. You want to play as Batman and Superman? Sure, just grind for thirty hours or throw away forty bucks - and you got em! What, you think it's weird that three characters could cost $60 bucks altogether? What do you mean that's the price of the real Injustice game? Seriously, come on, every game has microtransactions now right? Nothing special here, guys! Guys? You still playing?

Visually, the graphics seem to be impressing some users (fair enough?), but I found them largely forgettable. I've only played the Injustice console demo, but the costumes and art style do seem very similar between the two games. There are a few items you unlock in the console version by playing this iOS one, but I'd say you'd have to be pretty hard core to bother caring about that. Like I said at the top of the review, Injustice stands out from many other iOS games do to it's genre, which is a serious rarity on the platform, the sheer number of characters, animations and the fidelity of the graphics, but the gameplay itself gets boring very fast, and the grind dictated by the economy is especially poor, even on a platform dominated by brutal economies. The lack of any multiplayer (this is a fighting game guys!) is pretty damning too, but on the flip side the game is relatively stable, though its too intensive to run on all iOS platforms, can eat battery fast, and will also crash periodically.

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