Sunday, June 9, 2013

Injustice: Gods Among Us Review


Red flashes in Superman’s eyes as he grabs Harley Quinn. With one punch, he sends her rocketing through the atmosphere into space, but he doesn’t finish there. Supes proceeds to fly past Harley and deliver one final blow that causes her body to fall straight back down to earth with shattering force. This isn’t a fight for mortals, and Injustice: Gods Among Us makes that clear in name and gameplay. With Injustice, NeatherRealm Studios has created a game that brings the brutality of their Mortal Kombat franchise to superhero battles, and the result is a violent, loving offspring that holds the features of both its parents. Hit the jump to read more!

DISCLAIMER: I want to make this clear. This is not a review of the mechanics of the game. Instead, I wanted to focus more on the representation of the characters. If you have balance questions or anything like that, let me know in the comments.

Injustice is the first time a super hero fighting game has actually made the action super. The fights are large and destructive, as a fight between two unstoppable powers should be. Buildings crumble; characters throw cars at each other like pebbles; and every blow looks and sounds bone shattering. It’s a game that makes you feel powerful, and when you’re playing as someone like Shazam, isn’t that something you want?

The roster without DLC.
The roster contains 24 different characters (with more on the way) split right down the middle with heroes and villains. Well known names like Batman and Superman are obviously included with lesser known people like Killer Frost and Raven peppered in to round out the cast. The roster leans a little too heavily on Bat-related characters (8 of the 24), but considering that Batman is arguably the most popular superhero with the largest rogues gallery, I can’t say this is surprising. Other characters make appearances when someone is flung out of the stage ring. Being launched into a portal, and then thrown back through by Darkseid with a dose of omega rays is an awesome perk for fans, and moments like this are in every stage.

To bring together a roster of this caliber there needs to be a good reason to fight, and the creators try their best to give it a solid story. For those of you that have been keeping up with Tom Taylor’s Injustice tie-in comic, you’ll know the back story, but I’ll fill the others in anyways. Basically, Superman has transformed into the world DICKtator after Joker tricked him into destroying Lois and all of Metropolis in the blink of an eye. Oh, and Lois was pregnant.

Horror of baby killing aside, this sets up a believable scenario for the big blue boyscout to go superpowered Old Testament on everyone’s ass. He slaps the world governments into shape and filters out any other superhuman who won’t join his regime. Some of the deaths along the way are ridiculous (seriously, Nightwing going out Million Dollar Baby style?), but they setup a divided world of heroes that is ripe for a fighting game.

I guess if you’re going to go ridiculous you need to do it big, because the game’s story, which starts after the comics, ventures into multiverse territory. Other world heroes, from what I’m guessing is Earth 1, get pulled into the Superman regime world and must help the insurgency usurp their crazed friend. A convenient plot device (Kryptonian pills) is used to explain how someone like Green Arrow could fight Doomsday, and the fun begins. Remember, this is an Elseworld story, so it is a little ridiculous, but each of the fights actually makes sense. Also, just the fact that a well thought out story is included in a fighting game automatically raises it a bar above its competition.

Cyborg delivering his boot to Wonder Woman's face.
The voice work that went in Injustice is superb and bears many familiar names long associated with the characters in animated works. Kevin Conroy (Batman), George Newburn (Superman), Khary Payton (Cyborg), Susan Eisenberg (Wonder Woman), and many more give life to these beloved characters. The great cast of voice actors only adds to the quality on display here.

A fighting game is nothing without solid gameplay, and Injustice flexes its muscles here. The game functions on a modified version of the MK9 engine, but feels very distinct from NeathRealms other endeavors. The focus is on stringing together massive combos and juggling your opponent. Every character controls differently and feels unique, which is an amazing feat. Whether it is Joker laughing while wailing on Luthor with a crowbar, or Deathstroke keeping Hawkgirl at a distance with a multitude of guns, each character controls as you would imagine them.

The real star of the battles is the super moves. These are cinematic sequences that look beautiful and deal massive amounts of damage. Each character gets one outrageously destructive super move to use when their meter is full, and they are jaw dropping. Watching the Flash run around the world to punch someone in the face or Bane snap someone’s spine over his knee is endlessly satisfying.

Nightwing's final hit of his super deals a massive strike with his staff.
I could go on and talk about the hours of extra features in the game or great online features, but I want to keep this more focused on the fact that this is a great adaptation of these characters. Sure it’s an Elseworld story, so some liberties are taken with the characters, but their Earth 1 counterparts are as you would expect. Tons of effort and care has been put into this game making sure that comic book fans and fighting game aficionados alike can enjoy it, and I think they nailed it. You can finally sit down with a group of friends and end that silly squabble about who would win in a fight (always Batman).

VERDICT - BUY IT

If you have any interest in fighting games or you just love DC characters, I highly recommend picking up Injustice: Gods Among Us. This game is a comic book fans wet dream. Being able to control the iconic characters you love in such a well-crafted game does not come around often. Even if you suck at fighting games, I’m sure hitting Aquaman with a car will never get old for you. If you have any questions or comments, let me know below!


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