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

4
  • X360
  • 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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Posted by AltonBrown
Edited by bkbroiler
Edited by Dingobloo

I don't really like DC, Comic Books, Mortal Kombat or hell even fighting games that much, but based on the quick look there's a lot to like about this game and I'm almost tempted to pick it up... Is that weird? It definitely doesn't seem like a quick cash in.

Edited by QKT

well, you can't make a dumber story than the one in DOA so i think i'll be happy with this game.

Edited by FearMyFlop

@thekitkatshuffler said:

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

Goddamnit!!

Thanks man, now that's in my head too. Thanks.

Edited by AllieMoonSailor

Every time I see this game in action it looks so badass. So I do want to play the game, the only thing that's keeping me from getting the game is that the spectacle that's drawing me in will get old fast. I pretty sure Jeff said something of that nature in his review......soooooo is anyone excited for Soul Sacrifice on the ps vita?

Posted by WMoyer83

Only four stars? Pssh... Pass.

Edited by Hailinel

@qkt said:

well, you can't make a dumber story than the one in DOA so i think i'll be happy with this game.

Sure you can. Very easily, in fact. Just play Mortal Kombat: Armageddon.

Edited by vanfarley
Edited by Godzilla_Sushi

Seeing all the videos of this being played and impressions, it seems like the stages really steal the show! NetherRealm employees continue to weather the storm that older game studios don't seem able to do right now. I'm always extremely happy knowing that! I hope we see them evolve the idea of fighting game story telling.

Posted by AV_Gamer

Seems like a decent game. Didn't play MK9 or any of the recent Mortal Kombat games for that matter. One thing I noticed, however. It seems like the projectile based characters are cheap and can just spam themselves to victory. Hopefully, the more melee based characters to have answers for that in their arsenal.

Edited by bgdiner

As someone who just can't stand japanese fighters, partially due to their complexity and partially due to the lack of love I have for the characters, this, like the recent MK, seems like it'll satiate that need for a good fighting game.

Edited by 2HeadedNinja

I wish NetherRealm would consider to port this to the PC ... I'm not really good at fighting games and this being one thats more tailored towards beginners sound exactly what I want. Also even though I'm not a huge comics-guy I still like superheroes. But a PC port of this is never going to happen, is it? :(

Posted by CitizenJP

Just beat story mode an hour or so ago. Pretty badass, man. Hopping on those ranked matches now!

Edited by Y2Ken

Would have liked to have seen Tony G come in for this one, but it's good fun nonetheless.

Still not sure I'm sold - I enjoyed MK9 and it sounds like they're using a preferable control scheme this time (I'm not a fan of block being a separate button really), but I still don't think I'm sold on the fighting style of the MK series (the way it looks as much as anything).

Posted by Taku128

I wish NetherRealm would consider to port this to the PC ... I'm not really good at fighting games and this being one thats more tailored towards beginners sound exactly what I want. Also even though I'm not a huge comics-guy I still like superheroes. But a PC port of this is never going to happen, is it? :(

Sorry, Netherrealm/Warner Bros thinks the fucking Wii U is a bigger market than the PC, just like they thought the Vita was a better market for a Mortal Kombat 9 port than the PC.

Edited by Nictel

What I really don't understand is why "Superman and Batman are fighting each other because we wanted to see them fight each other" is not a good enough setup?

Posted by Zevvion

I don't know about this. I actually do enjoy fighters unlike some people, but this didn't grab me. The demo felt so simplistic, I didn't change my mind after seeing the Quick Look. Although, it may just be the entire style that doesn't suit me. I mostly like Tekken, where you could potentially capitalize on mistakes and make a decent juggle combo that is very hard to pull off, but gratifying if you manage to do so.

I have pretty much kept up with Tekken so I do not feel that 'I haven't played it in a while and now everyone just beats me' thing expressed in the Quick Look.

Then again, Harley Quinn is just so sexy, I might just get it anyway.

Edited by probablytuna

Sinestro is such a badass.

Edited by billthearle

Aquaman sucks.

Edited by Carlos1408

I think I'm gonna go for it. Loved MK9 and I'm a fan of superheroes. When I finish my coursework for this term it's happening! :D

Posted by phantomzxro

@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 this! lol

Posted by R1kki

Love it

Posted by AlertTheJ

Wesley Willis anyone??? "I whupped Batmans Ass!"

Edited by GeekWhenSpoken2

NetherRealm Studios should really invest in additional character modelers, modelers that specialize in the female form, notably faces. In both MK and Injustice nearly all of the women look like men in makeup. Which can be pretty jarring at times, for instance, trying to listen to Wonder Woman deliver dialog, whilst also trying to decide if she has a 5-o'clock shadow...

Edited by Hangnail
Posted by Maxszy

Certainly not a huge fighting game fan, but I loved the new MK that came out a couple years ago. Had lots of fun with it. Being from the same studio, this is certainly worth checking out! The quick look got be really interested anyway.

Posted by Mezmero

Anytime I heard you say the story got hokey in spots I thought, "Jeff's just saying that because he hates comic books." Then I finished the story and I kind of agree. The opening of the game in particular is not nearly as savage as that scene plays out in the prequel comic. The alternate dimension thing is a much better justification for the set up of a fighting game but the actual Injustice universe is a lot more interesting. It's still a really good story mode albeit a tad short but the MK9 story was mind blowing by comparison.

Other than that I'm really enjoying playing with a fresh fighting system. The amount of single player content has been satisfying thus far and I'm looking forward to digging into some multiplayer soon. Thanks for the great review.

Edited by sMOoie1

no superman;(

Edited by Tuxadracles

This game is overrated, I bought it on the day it came our expecting an extraordinary experience, but realized all you need to do to beat a person in battle is to use a cheap character such as Deadpool to win, therefore my enthusiasm ceased.

Fighting games should look back at older games such as the old Street Fighter 2 and see how different and better they are honestly. They require great timing, all this game happens to be is a clone of good fighting games, and a soul less one at that.

Posted by BrnzBrd85

@tuxadracles: Deathstroke. Deadpool is marvel.....but i get what you mean by cheap tactics. unfortunately the game encourages you to zone "spam" due to the large stages. there's too much distance between the fighter's.

Posted by Fairbrethees

I hate the stripper approach to female character design.

Online
Edited by YukoAsho

I hate the stripper approach to female character design.

To be fair, and this is unfortunate, this is also how comic book women are designed. And it's because the fans revolt if they're dressed up. Don't believe me? There was a HUGE shitstorm when Wonder Woman was given a jacket and pants (If you have the GOTY version or the appropriate DLC, it's the "#600" costume).

The costume that sent the comic nerds rioting in the street.