Developed by NetherRealm Studios, the team behind 2011′s Mortal Kombat reboot, Injustice: Gods Among Us sounds like a DC fan’s wet dream come true. What could be more exciting than seeing Batman fighting an alternate dimension version of himself? Or Wonder Woman taking on Bane? Or Lex Luthor in an armored suit picking off The Joker? It sounds great on paper, but is Injustice really a god among a sea of fighting games? Keep reading for our full review.
Let’s start with the plot to Injustice, which is anything but bizarre. The gist of it is: In an alternate universe, The Joker drugs Superman, causing him to think Lois Lane is Doomsday. Confused, Superman kills Lois Lane, his unborn son (whoa!) and destroys Metropolis. Batman shows up to arrest the Joker, but Superman intervenes and kills the clown. Superman becomes the supreme ruler of the world and Batman becomes the leader of the “Insurgency”, a group against Superman’s “One Earth” dictatorship.
Batman and a bunch of superheroes from the “normal” world are then teleported to the alternate world where Superman is king. Naturally, their goal is to stop Superman and his pack of evil superhero doppelgangers. The story itself is not complicated, but the way NetherRealms delivers it through “chapters” from different superhero perspectives is confusing to follow at times.
Injustice’s story mode is broken up into 12 chapters — each with around 3-4 fights and a few minutes of cutscenes to move the plot along. Each chapter takes about 15 minutes to complete, assuming you know your way around the basic moves.
There are three types of basic attacks: light, medium and hard. Those are mapped to the face buttons (A/B/X/Y on Xbox 360 or Square/Triangle/Circle, X on PS3). For the most part, advanced movies can be performed by pressing a direction + Attack or two directions + Attack. Using environments as parts of attacks or weapons is handled with a shoulder button press. Finally, super attacks are pulled off by filling up the super meter and pressing both trigger buttons.
This simplicity makes moves easy to pull off, since they’re mostly the same for each character; the actual attacks themselves are specific to whatever superhero you’re playing as. Hardcore Street Fighter or Tekken fans accustomed to crazy button combinations may be turned off by this simplicity, but casual fans will rejoice at Injustice’s friendly pick-up-and-play value.
That said, Injustice is a very short game — only about 3-4 hours depending on your skill — and also tends to be on the easy side. Enemy A.I. often starts off very strong, and gets dumber with each match lost. I’m not sure if a progressively easier A.I. was intentional or not, but it definitely threw the game’s balance off and made each win after the second or third loss feel less triumphant.
I also greatly disliked the Clash system — a combo breaker mechanic that lets you wager your super attack meter bars with an opponent’s in hopes of increasing your own health. Honestly, I beat the entire game without ever needing to activate a Clash. The real annoyance is when the computer activates it and snatches victory from the jaws of defeat.
In some chapters, between fights and cutscenes, you’ll come across a bunch of “mini games,” but they’re entirely dull and unimaginative — consisting of just pressing buttons to perform mediocre tasks like making The Joker throw cards at Nightwing or making Superman shoot cars thrown at him by Black Adam.
Personally, I wish there were more female characters to fight with in the story mode, aside from the single Wonder Woman chapter. You can play as Catwoman, Harley Quinn, Hawkgirl, Killer Frost and Raven, but only in multiplayer or online mode, which is kind of a bummer.
There’s also a bunch of DLC for Injustice. Four additional characters are available for purchase: Batgirl, Lobo, Scorpion and Zod — $4.99 each. Extra costume skin packs are also available for $2.99.
Photorealistic, Injustice is not, but the costume designs are very well done and beautifully rendered. I could see some of the character designs (especially The Flash’s) become real costumes in live-action movies.
Voice acting sounds decent, if you’re pushing the game through your TV’s stereo speakers, but if you output to gaming headphones (I tested them with the official Bluetooth PS3 Wireless Headset), they become hollow and have a slight echo to them. Still, Kevin Conroy voicing Batman. ‘Nuff said.
The cutscenes are short and to the point. And while you can choose to skip them, I never felt the need to. Injustice also runs at a silky smooth 60 frames per second and online multiplayer is equally as hiccup-free, which is greatly appreciated.
Injustice offers plenty of fun, if you go into it with an open mind and not for a fighting game with deep combo mechanics. It’s an easy to pick up game for DC fans who want to duke it out with their favorite superheroes. In that regard, Injustice is an excellent tribute to DC superheroes. But if you’re looking for depth and serious replay value outside of local multiplayer, the mission-based S.T.A.R.S. Lab and online survival mode, Injustice won’t hold up, and you’d be better off just renting this one or buying it pre-owned.
The Good: Easy to pick-up and play, even if you’re not a big fighting game fan because of easy-to-remember three-button combinations. The dialogue will make you laugh at times and seeing each character’s super attack move is entertaining. I particularly enjoyed seeing Batman call up his Batmobile to slam into enemies.
The Bad: Hardcore gamers may find the story mode to be too short, offering around 3-4 hours to gameplay – That’s assuming you’re watching the cutscenes and taking around 15 minutes to complete each superhero’s story. The story itself is somewhat confusing and the “Clash” system is a dud. The mini games are also incredibly boring and unimaginative.