Reviews April 24, 2013

Injustice: Gods Among Us

post main image

Reviewed By: Andre Thomas
System: Xbox 360 (Also on PS3, Wii U)
Genre: Fighting
Rated: T
Players: 1-2 (2-8 Online)
Cost: $59.99
Release Date: 04/16/2013
Publisher: WB Games
Developer: NetherRealm Studios

What do you get when you have a clown, an incredibly strong alien, and a grumpy bat? Sounds like a beginning to a horribly unfunny joke but the outcome is thankfully NetherRealm’s highly anticipated game, Injustice: Gods Among Us. Now if you're a fan of the site or listen to our UFG Radio podcast on iTunes, then you already know how excited I am about this title. It takes everything I love about DC comics and fuses it with fighting games. That, plus the possibility of a great story left me salivating for its release date. Well the day has come and gone. And with well over 24 hours of in-game time under my belt, I have a lot to talk about!  

Here's a quick synopsis of what's going on in this DC Universe based fighting game. Joker has tricked Superman into destroying the city he’s called home for most of his comic book life. This chain of events eventual turns him into a dark dictator; he feels that humans are incapable of achieving peace without the use of force. After recruiting other heroes to his cause, he was able to successful take over the planet. Of course, not every hero was tainted which led to their being an uprising of sorts. That’s where we (the players) come in. There's far more to the story but it’s so well written and acted that I don't to spoil anything for you.

injustice-review-screen

I’ll start with the game’s visuals. Right off the bat (pun awesomely intended) you see that all of your favorite DC heroes and villains have been given an armored makeover. Each character looks extremely defined and even though they've made a few changes to the costumes, NetherRealm stayed true to the iconic images of each character. That includes all of the unlockable costumes as well. What really makes this game stand out though is the incredible level designs. Each stage changes as you and your opponents duke it out on screen; you can really see the impact the battle has on the level as the background elements are impacted by every slam, punch, and explosion. Adding to this are the cool level transitions. A well placed attack will send a character flying through multiple buildings, trees, portals, etc. before crashing into a new environment. The intricate details found in each stage adds visual depth, making this fighter extremely easy to get immersed in. It becomes hard to not get lost in the beauty of each stage while playing the game. Taking an L doesn’t seem as bad when you are admiring the great work done to the environments!

Here's the tricky part with most fighting games today, the sound. For some reason fighting titles seem to have the worst music and voice overs when compared to other genres. NetherRealms pulled out the big guns with this one. Getting the actors that voiced these characters in many of their animated movies and TV series made it even easier to fall into a nostalgic coma of awesome! On top of the great voice acting, the sound of the attacks makes you cringe; getting hit by Joker’s crowbar really forced you to develop a "man that sound like it hurt" face but at the same time leaves you begging for more. Lastly, sprinkle on the amazing soundtrack and this game gets even closer to being a classic fighter.

injustice-review-screen-2

Now to add the meat to this video game sandwich; what everyone has been asking about for the past year, how well does it play? Allow me to say that it plays almost flawlessly. The gameplay style is indicative of NetherRealm’s latest Mortal Kombat. To those who don't know what that means, it's a slower more free flow type of battling. This allows for the creation of combos by building upon the game’s list of moves. Using a special move right after a three hit combo to juggle an opponent before continuing your assault is one of the many strategies utilized with this fighting system. This was why playing through the story was amazing (outside of the cool narrative) because you’re given the chance to really experiment with almost every character in the game.

The most exciting new pieces are the character specific super moves and clash wagers. Each character has a super move that can be activated once a super meter is filled (by attacking or being attacked). Some are more brutal looking than others; while I wasn't a fan of Cyborgs boring blast cannon, after watching Doomsday pummel a man through the earth and back, all was forgiven. Now the clash wagers add strategy and a chance for a comeback to players when they seem out of the fight. The clashes can be initiated while blocking or taking direct attacks allowing you to counter a move. Once the counter happens, you’re given choice of how much meter you’re willing to wager. If you’ve built up more bar than your opponent (and there for bet more than they do) you’ll win the clash and gain life relative to how much more meter you bet than them. If the attacker wins, you’ll lose life relative to what was waged. Again, this adds strategy to each encounter. What’s also cool is that the interactions vary between characters and if you pair the right fighters (Bane and Batman for example) then you will hear unique trash talk before they clash. Each one ends in a huge explosion showing the victor standing as the enemy is violently thrown backwards. Well, unless you tie of course. But who wants to do that?

injustice-review-screen-4

Going back to the story, it perfectly transitions from talks to fights. There was a reason for everything. Not at one point did I ask "why am I fighting with you now?" and that kept me glued to my system. Just waiting to see who was going to show up next and why they were there was exciting all on its own. But that doesn’t mean all there was was brawls between heroes and villains. As you play through the story NetherRealms throws you into some mini games to help you gain advantage over the opponent. A great example is Black Adam throwing cars at Superman (the character you’re controlling). Here you have to press the corresponding buttons to deflect the items while also harming him.  It adds so much depth to the cinematic portion of the game, making it feel like you were fighting through a comic book. I loved every moment!

And of course there are the multiplayer modes. One of the most important parts of any fighting game is making sure that there is no lag. Everything needs to run smoothly when playing online. Also, each character needs to be balanced in order for the fights to be fair. I give a huge high five to the guys at NR for really staying true to these mantras. Whether playing online or locally it never feels like someone has a sort of unfair advantage within picking a character. Everyone has their pluses and minuses making it a mental game as well as a showing of reflexes. A great thing that's new to the game was the ability to tag moves which makes them display onscreen during fights. The magnitude of simply adding this is insurmountable as it now opens up opportunities for people to play with more than just one person; it’s easier to tryout a new hero if you can see some of their moves while fighting!

Having the traditional player and ranked matches online are great, but I also enjoyed modes like King of the Hill and online practice with friends. What’s cool about King of the Hill is that those that are waiting their turn to fight to bet on who the victor will be in hopes of winning extra XP. Experience points are earned by doing just about anything; online or off. The more experience points you have, the more costumes, badges, nameplates etc. that you can unlock. So getting extra experience just for betting on players was a nice feature to add. It keeps things exciting even when you are waiting for your turn to play.

injustice-review-screen-3

Next up are the star lab missions where you play through a huge amount of mini games or fights with certain specifications to win stars. Think of the Challenge Tower from Mortal Kombat; earn enough stars by completing missions will net you different unlocks (like new costumes). This mode helps to break up the normal gameplay while giving off an easy going tone to an otherwise really serious story based fighter. It was really awesome for me to be able to have a diverse experience within this game.

It’s needless to say but I loved this game. It features a flawless story, beautiful graphics, a robust offering of game modes, and an amazing amount respect given to the DC characters. Basically, if you are into DC comics, fighting games, or both…actually it doesn’t matter; Injustice should be an immediate “must buy” title for all gamers. So stop reading, start up the Batmobile, and go get your hands on this game!

Gameplay: 10
An awesome fighter with awesome characters…enough said!

Graphics: 10
A large amount of time was spent on…everything. The proof is literally in the details!

Sound: 10
The great voice overs, the amazing soundtrack, and the sound of faces being smacked by Superman warms my heart!  

What’s New: 10
Being able to tag moves to be shown onscreen was ingenious. There are more new features presented but that one really stood out!  

Replay Value: 10
There is so much to do outside of the story and traditional vs. modes. Heck, there are even mini games that have nothing to do with fighting. Yea, a lot of time will be spent in-game!

Final Score:

10

Medal of Honors Award