Injustice: Gods Among Us Review: DC’s Finest and Baddest Kick Some Ass in This Stellar Fighter

by David Sanchez April 20, 2013 @ 10:39 am

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When NetherRealm Studios developed Mortal Kombat in 2011, it delivered one of the best fighting game experiences in recent memory and arguably the best fighter of that year. The developer is now at the forefront of Injustice: Gods Among Us, a game that pits some of DC Comics’ greatest heroes and villains (as well as a few obscure characters) against one another. The result is yet another homerun as NetherRealm has managed to craft a gritty, action-packed, and downright enjoyable fighting game that’s both accessible to casual players and rewarding for diehard fighting buffs.

Injustice takes several cues from 2011’s Mortal Kombat reboot. Button commands are intuitive and fairly easy to memorize, though there are more complex combos that reward with you flashy and devastating attacks. Some moves look especially painful, and it’s great to see the brutal style of Mortal Kombat employed and toned down ever so slightly to fit with the style of this comic book-themed game. Simple button presses will result in punches, kicks, uppercuts, and aerial strikes. There are also grappling attacks that are pretty effective and just look really cool (for most of the characters, anyway).

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Aside from basic attacks, each character has special moves and a finisher. Special moves are based around the character, so The Joker, for example, will throw explosive chattering teeth on the ground for his opponents to fall victim to. Batman utilizes his batarangs and grappling hook effectively while Catwoman employs her athletic skills to pull off acrobatic moves. Superman, as you may expect, takes advantage of his vast list of powers such as heat vision and freeze breath, meanwhile Bane uses his freak power to pull off high impact moves. These are just a few examples of what the cast of Injustice is capable of.

Finishing moves are the most powerful attacks you can dish out. As you fight, you fill up your super meter. Once it’s completely filled, hitting the L2 and R2 buttons simultaneously will set off the attack. While these moves can be avoided, successfully pulling them off will reward you with a cool string of events and dish out some serious damage. Aquaman has one of the cooler finishers (for real!), and I can’t stress how awesome it is seeing the dude drown his adversaries in water and then calling on a shark to chomp the crap out of ’em. I won’t spoil the fun that comes from discovering the rest of these moves, but suffice it to say that they’re extremely brutal most of the time and totally satisfying.

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One of the coolest aspects of Injustice is its destructible and interactive world. The wide array of levels — from Joker’s Asylum to Atlantis — all have really cool environmental features to create an even more hectic battleground. With the press of a button, you can hurl a table or chair (or a piano, because why not?) at your foes. You can also perform a spin kick to send the other fighter into the background in certain spots, only for him to bounce back perfectly set up for an uppercut. Want to utilize some security turrets? Sure, you can do that! You can also knock an enemy into other parts of the level, which sets off a cool animation of that character flying through walls and hitting precariously placed pipes and rocks.

Injustice features a fully realized single-player Story mode which is penned by both NetherRealm and DC. The result is a plot that’s incredibly well-written and superbly interesting to watch unfold. Like NetherRealm’s 2011 endeavor, fights and cutscenes seamlessly flow to progress the narrative. The tale takes both DC’s finest and most rotten into an alternate dimension where Joker has tricked Superman into killing Lois Lane and his unborn child. Now corrupted, this alternate Superman establishes a new regime, and it’s up to Batman’s Insurgency to restore order.

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In addition to Story mode, Injustice boasts several other play options. Battle is the game’s take on the traditional arcade ladder mode. S.T.A.R. Labs features character-specific missions akin to the Challenge Tower in Mortal Kombat. There are also local and online multiplayer modes. Standard matches pit players against each other while King of the Hill and Survivor add a nice wrinkle to the online component, allowing players to battle for the top spot among other fighters. There wasn’t any lag during any of my encounters, but connecting to other players was a bit of a hassle as I had deal with some annoying connection and load times.

The accessible nature of the many fighting systems in Injustice is very reminiscent of Mortal Kombat, but the game still manages to feel like a different type of experience. This is obviously due to the superhero and supervillain themes that act as the foundation for the game. The moveset isn’t as varied as NetherRealm’s previous project, and loading times can be obnoxiously long. Thankfully, practically every other aspect of Injustice comes together wonderfully to provide players with a compelling and addictive fighting game. If you’re a Mortal Kombat fan, a DC aficionado, or even a casual fighting game player, you’re bound to have a blast playing Injustice. It’s an impressive thrill ride with inviting gameplay, a great story, and a roster of awesome characters. Hell, even Aquaman is a little badass. Just a little, though.

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