At the time of this writing, Injustice: Gods Among us adopted patch 1.05, has four DLC characters, and is going to be featured as the 9th game of this year’s EVO tournament. Injustice has is currently enjoying big ol’ piles of hype in the fighting game community. This popularity is due to injustice having some of the biggest names in comics, and it being a very well designed fighting game.
If you are already a fan of the DC universe, you should already own this game. The Story mode is essentially a 3-6 hour long Justice League Movie, and is on it’s own worth about half the price of the game. The guys at Netherrealm Studios used DC’s penchant for creating alternate universes to create their own world with alternate versions of all of the cast. A select few characters from the main comic universe journey to this other universe where alternate Joker did terrible things to alternate Superman/Lois/Metropolis causing alternate Supes to completely lose his jerry curl of kindness and go into full dystopian dictator mode. They have an official comic series devoted to the events in the story that is worth every cent, just to see how Joker got Superman seen here(no spoilers). The player controls one member of the cast for several fights, or minigames, to advance from scene to scene. The fighting is quick to scale if you start losing, so nobody gets stuck. The minigames manage to add a lot of fun to the experience but can be a bit jarring to the canon. For example, in one minigame Black Adam chucks nearby speeding cars at good Superman. The player controlling Superman defends himself by blowing up all of the cars as they fly in, ruthlessly killing lots of innocent motorists. This mode is, however, one of my favorites and really hope that other fighting games pick up on this trend in the future.
The minigames in the story are fun and non intrusive, some of the minigames in S.T.A.R. labs, however may make you cry a little on the inside. Especially if you are trying to get the Elseworld Flash Skin, which is only available by getting three stars on all of the 240 missions. Each character gets ten missions to complete a mini story relevant to the character. Much like challenge tower in MK9 this section of the game is designed for completionists, to give them plenty of extra things to do in the game and add ten to twenty hours of gameplay to the game, depending on your skill. The games range from fighting under special conditions, to flying around a level in a kind of twin stick shooter. In each situation the player is rewarded with up to three stars for accomplishing feats like lever getting hit or clearing the level under a certain amount of time. The designers managed to hide a good number of nods to old comics and games in these labs with Shazam’s flying sidescroller, and Bane’s “Break the Bat” mission. The games manage to have fun in them but their overall theme is to get you comfortable with the button inputs, and over time Injustice makes itself clear that it wants you to get good at this game.
As I mentioned earlier this game is going to be at EVO 2013 so it is being actively balanced through patching. The fighting systems design is designed to be semi unified across its entire cast. The unity is built into each character through standardized moves for every character, a trend that is becoming more and more prevalent in the genre. Every character has moves that all are input the same way, and act similarly. These moves are the sweep, uppercut, wall-bounce, overhead bounce, throw, super, and interactable button. In my opinion, the use of this standardized moves is a great tool to make people feel comfortable trying out new characters and being able to pick a character based on personal connection to a character or play style, rather than simply the easiest to use. It has also bred a lot of counter picking and mastering of multiple characters in upper levels of competition. If you haven’t played a lot of fighting games, this one is pretty straightforward and is a great place to start.
The fighting system itself is a pretty big departure from most fighting games to date. The system separates itself from the pack by including character specific traits activated by the fourth facebutton, stage transitions activated by landing a wallbounce in the correct corner, and environmental interactables like teleporters, drones, and cars to be thrown or fired onto enemies. Each stage has a different arrangement of environmental activities so it has a large effect on the flow of a match. So much so that as we speak the stage selection process for tournament play is still in dispute. The characters fall into one of two classes of environmental interaction, nimble and super strong. The strong classes usually destroy the interactables they use by chucking them directly at or around the opponent. The nimble ones thow, jump off of, or set bombs upon the items for more tactically advantageous reuse of many objects. Most objects used are unblockable, and stage transitions deal major damage, so having a favorite level takes on a whole new significance. For example, I often chose the Great Hall area of the Hall of Justice level just so I could see Darksied on the screen transition. Most screen transitions have a lot of flair in them, including throwing someone into the Arkham Asylum break room to get slapped around by Killer Croc, The Riddler, and Penguin.
The combo system is broken up into easily digested three button fragments that can be interwoven into longer combos. This is not a game of extremely long combos because damage scales pretty fast, like in this Swagger filled Superman combo. Hence, long combos aren’t going to be as easy or effective as a shorter, harder hitting combos. Meter is very important, and is controlled by the Meter Burn Button. Each character has special moves that can be Meter Burned into more damaging or useful forms, meter can also be used to cancel combos, push block, perform supers, and “Clash”. The “Clash” system is a first in fighting games. When a match is on its second round and a player has two bars of meter, and they are being hit, they can initiate a “clash” and wager sections of their meter against the opponents meter to do damage or earn back health. Upon initiating the Clash, the characters separate, spout a one liner, and charge at each other This is where a lot of the flavor writing comes in, any two characters that have a relationship, or particularly good quip, will fire it here. Relevant best of clips here. If you have a full meter bar, you can perform your characters super move. Super moves are all over the top, on a scale that only DC comics can produce. My personal favorites include Doomsday punching people through the earth and back, The Flash around the world punch, and the newly released General Zod super that throws people through the moon.
Injustice is not a perfectly balanced game, and for good reason. Injustice is loyal to its source material, hence the top tier in this game is about at what you would expect it to be if you are at all familiar with the DCU(Detective Comics Universe). Superman is the easiest to use and is pretty much overpowered and well rounded with both good rushdown and keepaway. The rest of the Justice Friends, Batman, Aquaman, and Wonder Woman, are all pretty much in the same tier as supes. The cast is pretty diverse with a heavy leaning toward keepaway with characters like Senestro, Deathstroke, and Lex Luthor. It also boasts some of the most fun grappling characters around like Solomon Grundy, Lobo, and Shazam. The Roster sports characters for any thought pattern, even tricky ones like Joker, Harley Quinn, Cyborg, and The Flash. Recent additions have been catapulted into the legendary broken tier by way of having teleports but NRS listens pretty closely to its fanbase and has been quick to patch things that are too powerful. This close attention to its fans, fueled by Ed Boon’s twitter feed, has helped generate lots of hype about the game in the FGC. Ed’s twitter has also bred plenty of interest in upcoming DLC characters, skins, potential updates and much more. If people need a good model of how to do DLC in a fighting game, CAPCOM I’m looking at you here, Ed Boon has made a great road map.
Downloadable content for this game was done very well, and I expect it to continue to grow in strength well into the winter months. Recently (July 2nd) Ed Boon’s twitter hinted at a major announcement at EVO, my personal bet is the announcement of a second round of DLC Characters. Those in the Fighting Game Community(FGC) are still being given things to look forward to even now several months after release. The early life of the game was a case study on how to keep a crowd focused on the next thing you plan to release. Ed Boon has made himself into a twitter wizard with near constant hints and misdirections at the next batch of releases coming for his game. He even used it to determine fan favorites for the next round of DLC characters I hinted at earlier. NRS even released characters a week early for season pass holders, and free new costumes with the patches and updates. I could continue with the impacts of downloading a new patch to be rewarded with a free skin ( like Doomsday’s Containment Suit skin ) but I’ll digress for now.
The online experience is a vital role for any modern fighting game. Injustice, excels at online with two new gameplay types on top of the standard ranked, and player match options. King of the Hill and Survivor game modes are the new hotness. Both are well executed and pretty well thought out. King of the hill is exactly how it sounds where you play until you are defeated and get bonus experience for longer streaks, those not participating in the upcoming matches can bet on who will win for bonus experience. Survivor is the major showstopper here. In Survivor mode the player tries to achieve long win streaks while only regenerating health based upon feats performed in game like stage transitions, interactables, supers, and long combos. According to the community I talk to this is the one true online game mode to prove your worth as a fan or fighter.
Injustice: Gods Among Us is a pretty, well balanced, fighting game that will allow yourself and your friends to settle bets on the age old question of who would win in a fight, Batman or The Flash? All while thoroughly entertaining you for many hours. It sports Story Mode, Classic Arcade style ladder matches complete with character specific endings, more alternative ladder matches than you can shake a stick at, more missions in S.T.A.R. labs than you think you’ll want to play, an ever expansive and expanding cast, and Lots of online modes. This game has all of the hallmarks of having a long solid stay in the light of the FGC, pro’s and hobbyists alike.
- Vibrant interactive levels
- Large and still expanding cast
- Solid Netcode
- Wants you to learn its mechanics
- Lots of extra content
- Funny clash dialog
- Outside the mold of most fighting games
- SOLOMON GRUNDY!, The Flash, and Lobo, ’nuff said.
- Great Story Mode
- Character fighting styles reflect the official characters pretty well, Joker specifically.
- A lot of Batman cast.
- Some of the scenes in the story mode seem a little barren
- one or two victory poses per character
- no quick rematch in player match, you always have to reselect characters
- keepaway is pretty popular and hard to overcome, rage will be felt.
- Aquaman, Superman, and Deathstroke are pretty much fountains of rage online, however this is the nature of fighting games. The most effective techniques usually get abused the most.
- A lot of Batman cast
- No where near enough Atrocitus, swamp thing, or animal man.
- Some of the women look oddly manly, or have strange voices
- It’s named Gods Among Us, but there is only one god in the cast (Ares)
If you like DC, Mortal Kombat, Fighting Games in general, or punching people through planets, buy this game. Season pass was worth it in my opinion, prepare to burn time in S.T.A.R. labs, and the story was well written and fun.
SCORE: 9/10, adjusted fanboy score 8.75/10