Quick Look: Injustice: Gods Among Us

Jeff and Ryan get downright divine in their application of DC Comics fists to DC Comics faces.

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Injustice: Gods Among Us Review

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  • PS3

Injustice's unique fighting systems and wild super moves set it apart from the developer's previous work.

Bane and Black Adam enjoy some time together at Aquaman's place.

The most surprising thing about Injustice: Gods Among Us is how different it feels from Mortal Kombat, the previous game from NetherRealm Studios. At times, fights in Injustice look almost exactly like the sort of fight you'd see in MK9. The way the characters move and the cadence of the combos as fighters bounce and juggle each other around has a very similar vibe. But the way it controls and the way its various systems are implemented make Injustice feel like its own thing... and it's a pretty good thing, too. This DC Comics fighting game takes most of the modes from the 2011 MK release and rebuilds them around a lively roster of heroes and villains. The fights are flashy and full of personality, making the action stand out, and producing a spectacle worth seeing.

Parts of the Injustice fighting system feel like they were designed with an eye toward making the game a bit more accessible for people who aren't already well-versed in fighting games. This starts with its three attack buttons of varying strength. Then there's a character power button that activates something unique for each character. For some fighters, this is very simple. Superman, for example, does more damage when his power is active. Black Adam gets three spinning energy orbs that damage opponents that get too close. Some power up specific types of moves. Deathstroke gets longer bursts of gunfire when his power is active. Others act as stance changes, letting Wonder Woman switch from lasso to sword and shield.

From there, the systems start to get a little more dense, like a clash system that lets you wager portions of your super meter to heal or deal damage, or EX moves and bounce cancels that alter the properties of special moves or add a layer of combo potential, respectively. Also, unlike the Mortal Kombat games, Injustice's blocking system works when you hold back or down, rather than relying on a dedicated block button. No one part of Injustice's mechanics makes it too much to follow, but the game's deceptively simple attack buttons definitely give way to something with more depth and a higher learning curve. I also found it difficult to map all of its different buttons to a joystick in a way that felt natural and logical. You can configure the buttons however you like, so perhaps you'll find a setup that works well for you, but I ended up sticking with the standard gamepad. The game has an effective tutorial that illustrates how most of the systems function, but you'll need to get in and get your hands dirty to figure out when and why you'd want to use each of your available options.

Harley Quinn makes a quick phone call from jail.

If you're familiar with Mortal Kombat's list of modes, most of Injustice maps back to that game. The story mode takes the same sort of interactive movie approach, seamlessly weaving its way into and out of fights in a way that's still quite impressive a couple of years later. You'll control a handful of characters over the course of the story, which mostly seems to exist to answer the questions "why would good guy superheroes fight other good guy superheroes?" and "how do those not-so-superpowered heroes survive a good pummeling from the likes of Superman?" The answers aren't especially satisfying, but the multidimensional story juggles up the typical hero vs. villain alliances in a way that justifies having "evil" versions of a few heroes without seeming quite as ridiculous as the "they're infected with RAGE" plot that drove Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe. It's not too far off from that G.I. Joe two-parter where they get sucked into an alternate dimension where the Baroness is a good guy, actually.

"Battles" is where you'll get your arcade-style ladders, with additional unlockable tiers that layer different modifiers onto the fights, like one that imposes a restrictive time limit or another that gives you a random character to control for each fight. Finishing the standard ladder gets you a character-specific ending. The S.T.A.R. Labs is the Injustice take on Mortal Kombat's Challenge Tower, giving you hundreds of different objectives to complete, be they blocking challenges or the simple task of winning a fight. This time around, each challenge has three different objectives associated with it, giving you extra stars (and unlocking more of the later challenges more quickly) for completing extra tasks. So, for example, you'll get one star for using Superman to avoid Catwoman for 20 seconds in one of the early challenges. But you'll need to land a four-hit juggle to get the second star and connect with two throws for the third... and if you get hit once, you fail the whole challenge. The advanced goals get pretty tricky, which makes it frustrating that there's a bit of load time and dialogue to button through each time you retry a challenge.

The game is full of alternate costumes, some unlockable, though others will eventually be for sale.

The online end of Injustice also builds upon the MK framework, giving up to eight players the ability to get together and fight in King of the Hill mode, which lets the players who are waiting and spectating vote on the current fight. There's also a lobby system that lets players meet up and chat before engaging in one-on-one, King of the Hill, or Survivor mode, which is essentially a King of the Hill variant where the winners don't automatically get all their life back between fights. You can also enter an online practice session, which is a pretty cool idea for players wanting to show each other some new moves. The online mode spews a ton of fun game-related data at you via a tip feed, letting you know how many capes have been destroyed, how many times specific objects have been broken in a level, and so on. You've seen this type of stat feed in first-person shooters before, but it's interesting to see it applied to a fighting game. By and large, the online works fine when you're playing against someone with a solid set of connection bars.

Injustice employs solid fighting systems that make it fun to play, but for many the main draw will be the game's wild super moves and destructible backgrounds. It's worth taking a break from the fighting for a bit to see Flash run all the way around the world to put a little more oomph into his punch or to see Batman run his opponents over with a remote controlled Batmobile. It gives the game a lot of cool, crazy flavor, even if they do start to get a little stale over time.

Injustice: Gods Among Us learns a lot from the last Mortal Kombat game, but it's not a simple clone of the developer's past work. Its unique fighting system, deep move lists, and practice options give you something to learn and places to learn it. I rolled my eyes more than a few times during the story mode, but the ridiculous super moves offset that stuff and make it a pretty good time.

Jeff Gerstmann on Google+
85 Comments
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Edited by Animasta

that might be the most generic by line I've seen on a review here to date.

Edited by funkdezi

Super!

Edited by jimmyfenix

IM GOING TO KICK BATMANS ASS WHEN THIS GAME COMES OUT ON FRIDAY

Edited by Kieran_Smith5

Any word on the Wii U version?

Posted by ImmortalSaiyan

@animasta said:

that might be the most generic by line I've seen on a review here to date.

You may be right.

Edited by vonFlampanker

I can see by the cover art that Beetlejuice is a playable character.

Posted by VibratingDonkey

@animasta said:

that might be the most generic by line I've seen on a review here to date.

by Jeff Gerstmann on April 16, 2013

Yeah it's pretty bland.

Posted by SternOne

Yay!

Posted by machinerebel
Edited by EpicSteve

@animasta said:

that might be the most generic by line I've seen on a review here to date.

You may be right.

Sometimes over thinking and trying to be too clever will take away from your main point. If that main point sounds a little generic, so be it.

Edited by DeathbyYeti

no MK in the title? No 5 stars!

Edited by csl316

Leave GI Joe out of this.

Game looks neat. Though I still feel I played too much MK to do anything besides the storyline here. Even with the changes.

Posted by AlwaysBeClothing

It looks like a solid title, I just wish I loved fighting games more. The DC stuff seems really well done!

Posted by Oni

@animasta said:

that might be the most generic by line I've seen on a review here to date.

by Jeff Gerstmann on April 16, 2013

Yeah it's pretty bland.

well played, ser.

Posted by Little_Socrates

I wish I could get over how janky the fighting system felt in the demo. Like, it felt REALLY middling, very loose and unsatisfying, not to mention there were serious balance issues based on pre-launch tournaments. Here's hoping the full game has more compelling gameplay.

Posted by ImmortalSaiyan

no MK in the title? No 5 stars!

Any fighting game not called Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat is doomed to a 4 star. I was expecting this to get 5 stars, free considering how much jeff likes MK and he even game MK vs. DCU 5 stars of all games.

Edited by dropabombonit

Sounds good, I do have a lovefilm account again so will rent and see what I think

Posted by ArbitraryWater

This game vaguely interests me, but I don't have any consoles with me at the moment so I'll wait for it to drop in price.

Online
Edited by Darkness2386

The Quick Look sold me on the game this morning. I'm not a huge fighting game fan but I am enjoying the game. The cool things you can pull off are made easy with the controls that even a noob like me can get the hang of.

Edited by Kavrik

Can't wait to get my hands on this game; I loved the last MK. Also, GLHB!

Posted by phrosnite

As expected.

Posted by Ravelle

@animasta said:

that might be the most generic by line I've seen on a review here to date.

It's better than a failed attempt at being funny/clever or a lame pun though.

Edited by deerokus

I read a bit of the prequel comic series, and jeez, the justification for Superman becoming an evil fascist dictator is so incredibly stupid. Is there a comic book equivalent of wrestlecrap? This is that.

Game looks fun.

Posted by LegendaryChopChop

@deerokus said:

I read a bit of the prequel comic series, and jeez, the justification for Superman becoming an evil fascist dictator is so incredibly stupid. Is there a comic book equivalent of wrestlecrap? This is that.

Game looks fun.

What happened to make him like that? You could put it in spoiler tags if people are really concerned about it. I heard a lot about how bad this game's story was but I'd like a quick rundown if anybody could possibly share that.

Posted by casper_

i can see enjoying this game if you are A) into DC comics or B) into MK (despite what people say, the system still feels like MK) but i'm not sure i would recommend it if you like very meticulously designed fighters. this i just based off my experience from the demo but it didnt feel very fluid or graceful and some issues like the ridiculous hitstun on certain moves put me off the game and have caused some pretty braindead infinites to pop up. the stage hazards are interesting but potentially gamebreaking (bane/grundy getting 100% + off of them.)

Posted by deerokus

@deerokus said:

I read a bit of the prequel comic series, and jeez, the justification for Superman becoming an evil fascist dictator is so incredibly stupid. Is there a comic book equivalent of wrestlecrap? This is that.

Game looks fun.

What happened to make him like that? You could put it in spoiler tags if people are really concerned about it. I heard a lot about how bad this game's story was but I'd like a quick rundown if anybody could possibly share that.

Just click the link in this spoiler http://www.comicsalliance.com/2013/03/19/injustice-gods-among-us-comic-review-dc/

Posted by SeanFoster

@deerokus said:

@legendarychopchop said:

@deerokus said:

I read a bit of the prequel comic series, and jeez, the justification for Superman becoming an evil fascist dictator is so incredibly stupid. Is there a comic book equivalent of wrestlecrap? This is that.

Game looks fun.

What happened to make him like that? You could put it in spoiler tags if people are really concerned about it. I heard a lot about how bad this game's story was but I'd like a quick rundown if anybody could possibly share that.

Just click the link in this spoiler http://www.comicsalliance.com/2013/03/19/injustice-gods-among-us-comic-review-dc/

Maybe I just read too many comics these days and my bar for "incredibly stupid" is really low but I thought it was a decent setup.

Posted by Ceno

This improves on every aspect of MK, which he gave five stars, but he doesn't like superheroes, so four stars.

Posted by Vasper_Knight

Word i knew this was going to be good thanks.

Posted by thekitkatshuffler

It's just impossible for me to read a review by Jeff now without hearing his Gaming Minute radio DJ voice.

Goddamnit!!

Posted by raptorsrevenge

Why is Tony G never part of these comic book related games?

Posted by Lanceuppercut

Injustice Scrub League!!!

Posted by Tarsier

are there special move attacks

Edited by AckbarTheGreat

@machinerebel: But it might just be a lunatic you're looking for.

Posted by TheEvilCory

@animasta: That's a summary, not a byline. The byline is where it says "by Jeff Gerstmann"

Posted by Oldirtybearon

@animasta: That's a summary, not a byline. The byline is where it says "by Jeff Gerstmann"

Alternatively known as "the strap" of an article.

Posted by AnEternalEnigma

Only four stars? Uh oh, Ed Boon doesn't want to be friends anymore.

Posted by Solh0und

Eh,I'll wait for it to be in the $30-40 range.

Posted by koopakorral

@kieran_smith5: It's totally fine. Runs just as well as the demo on PS3, so I imagine the rest is as equal. Not seeing an option for DLC though.

Edited by Scrawnto

@legendarychopchop said:

@deerokus said:

I read a bit of the prequel comic series, and jeez, the justification for Superman becoming an evil fascist dictator is so incredibly stupid. Is there a comic book equivalent of wrestlecrap? This is that.

Game looks fun.

What happened to make him like that? You could put it in spoiler tags if people are really concerned about it. I heard a lot about how bad this game's story was but I'd like a quick rundown if anybody could possibly share that.

If I remember correctly, the Joker put a nuke inside of Lois Lane in a submarine, and Superman punched her through the hull and up into space, or some nonsense like that.

Edit: Whoops, looked it up. He punched her into space because of Kryptonite-laced Scarecrow gas, and she was connected to a deadman's switch that set off a nuke in Metropolis. The submarine and space parts were pretty much right though.

Posted by Gordo789

this game looks really cool. I'm a pretty big comics fan, but wasn't super into Mk9, so I'll probably wait to pick this up on sale sometime. Still looking forward to it.

Posted by ArbitraryWater

@ceno said:

This improves on every aspect of MK, which he gave five stars, but he doesn't like superheroes, so four stars.

Pretty much.

Online
Posted by soundlug

The comic prequel was specially critized because it was so awful even by video game tie ins standards

Posted by Poppduder

@soundlug said:

The comic prequel was specially critized because it was so awful even by video game tie ins standards

http://www.comicvine.com/reviews/injustice-gods-among-us-5/1900-1440/ good point, except no...

Posted by Leptok

@deerokus said:

@legendarychopchop said:

@deerokus said:

I read a bit of the prequel comic series, and jeez, the justification for Superman becoming an evil fascist dictator is so incredibly stupid. Is there a comic book equivalent of wrestlecrap? This is that.

Game looks fun.

What happened to make him like that? You could put it in spoiler tags if people are really concerned about it. I heard a lot about how bad this game's story was but I'd like a quick rundown if anybody could possibly share that.

Just click the link in this spoiler http://www.comicsalliance.com/2013/03/19/injustice-gods-among-us-comic-review-dc/

That article is terrible.

Edited by SathingtonWaltz

Considering that I really enjoyed MK vs DC Universe, I'll probably pick this up on my Wii U later on.

Posted by Nightfang

Considering that I really enjoyed MK vs DC Universe, I'll probably pick this up on my Wii U later on.

I don't get way people hate that game some much.

Edited by King9999

Any word on the Wii U version?

It should be out now.

Posted by Yanngc33

IM GOING TO KICK BATMANS ASS WHEN THIS GAME COMES OUT ON FRIDAY

WHY IN HELL WOULD YOU WANT TO DO THAT BATMAN IS BOSS KISCK SUPERMAN'S ASS HE SUCKS

Edited by Animasta

@animasta: That's a summary, not a byline. The byline is where it says "by Jeff Gerstmann"

I forgot what it was called okay

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