Preview: Injustice: Gods Among Us
In 2011 NetherRealms showed us that there was still something worthwhile in the Mortal Kombat series after a long spell of hit-and-miss titles. It took the franchise back to its roots and gave fans what they wanted, this was key to the game’s resounding success. One of those less than great games was Mortal Kombat Vs DC Universe. For a game that had so much promise and should’ve been akin to Marvel Vs Capcom it just didn’t deliver. So the logical thing would be to close that door and leave it in the past, right? Wrong. Take Mortal Kombat out of the equation, make it all about the DC characters and you’re looking at Injustice: Gods Among Us.
Name: Injustice: Gods Among Us
Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U
Developers: NetherRealm Studios
Publishers: Warner Bros Games
Release Date: 19 April 2013
For reasons which are, let’s face it, largely irrelevant; the entire DC Universe is locked in one massive fight club. Well, not the entire complement of characters since that includes more characters than your average Indian extended family but the game does include all your heavy hitters. Wonder Woman, Batman, Green Arrow, Superman, Deathstroke, The Flash, Green Lantern, Lex Luthor, Doomsday, Raven and more. It’s a very all-star cast of heroes and villains. Even Aquaman is in there somewhere. Since this game is all about fighting, each character also has a bulkier, stronger armour-type costume. Some of the designs leave a little to be desired while others seem to work quite nicely. On the whole, the character models leave a lot to be desired but they’re adequate and good enough. That’s just my unfashionable opinion.
Perhaps we actually should discuss the plot at play. It serves to rationalise the fact that characters who are normally allies or don’t even cross paths are going head to head. It also tells us why heroes are teaming up with villains and everything seems to be so topsy turvy.
The idea is that following the death of Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen at the hands of the Joker, Superman goes off the deep end and enforces a global regime but as you’d expect Batman opposes this and so the Dc characters are distinctly divided between team Bat and team Supes. Sounds like the The Dark Knight Returns Part 2 but on a bigger scale. That’s about as much plot as you need for one of these things really.
Underneath all the capes, spandex and masks is essentially 2011’s Mortal Kombat albeit tweaked, tuned and all-round improved. This means the game should at least look good in motion. Like Mortal Kombat, the game plays out as 1-v-1 matches along a 2D plane while the environments and characters are rendered in 3D. Each match is just one round but characters have two health bars each.
Injustice uses a 4-button control scheme which should ape the system seen in MK. No, not the music channel, I’m not even sure if that channel has a system to speak of. One of the draw card is the character trait mechanic which is essentially each character’s special move designed to showcase a unique ability or attack the personifies the character. For example, Batman can summon a wave of robotic bats while Superman receives a temporary stats boost to really put the super in Superman. These character traits can be divided into two categories – “power characters” and “gadget characters”
Restrictive environments such as those in MK would make a game like Injustice feel claustrophobic with entities such as Bane and Solomon Grundy lumbering around. Thus environments are bigger than in Mortal Kombat, interactive and feature multiple tiers. Connecting a heavy attack near the edge of a stage will launch players into another section of the level.Thus instead of singular environments, each stage is more of a multi-level arena. Some prominent venues include the Fortress of Solitude, the Batcave and Watchtower. Thanks to updates to MK’s engine the game also features plenty of objects which can be used in combat differently depending on a character’s class. For example, Batman can fire projectiles at a car to cause explosions whereas Superman can pick up the same car and hurl ti at his opponent. Turning off interactive elements is an option for those of you who would rather not go down that road.
With such a variety of characters balancing will certainly be an issue but there are some equalisers for lack of a better word. Like with many fighting games, performing combos etc will charge a player’s “super meter” and this will allow players to perform various actions such as special moves, countering opponent attacks or unleash their most powerful attacks. There’s a dubious sounding Clash system which basically allows players to break an opponent’s combo by initiating Clash and then players must commit an amount of their meter to bidding and the highest bidder wins the clash. It seems like a bad and needless idea but perhaps it will work better in practise.
The story will run through seven chapters with players switching between different characters along the way. QTE-type mini-games will be worked in between fights and can result in some players perks such as boosted health for the next match. There will also be the STAR Lab Mode which includes several missions for which players can earn a star rating. Finally there is also online which is pretty standard in terms of having tournaments, 1-v-1 and the like but also sports a King of the Hill mode which supports up to 8 players to spectate while they wait for their turn.
Suspected Selling Points
- The game is built on a successful foundation from a trusted developer.
- It’s a great premise for any DC Comics fan. Especially those who also have a passion for fighting games.
- While only cosmetic, the character designs are not great despite taking a more combat-oriented approach to design while staying true to original costumes.
- With such a vast spread of characters, balancing may be an issue. Conversely the game may be balanced such that certain characters feel more or less powerful than they should be.
- While it may be completely unrelated, the last endeavour where Mortal Kombat and DC overlapped did not end too well and one can’t help but wonder if a similar tessellation issue may arise here.
If you’re a fan of Mortal Kombat and DC then you’ll likely have pre-ordered Injustice: Gods Among Us and are eagerly awaiting it as you read this. If not then despite NetherRealm’s pedigree and the game looking good thus far, it would be wiser to err on the side of caution. This is a game that could be great but only if it characters are properly balanced and those costumes don’t detract too much from the experience. There’s not an awful lot to get excited about for this game nor much evidence to suggest a bad game from a neutral point of view so rather wait for reviews before spending any money on this one.