Injustice: Gods Among Us PS3 Review
NetherRealm Studios are most famous for making the massively popular Mortal Kombat series, which brought blood, guts and fatalities to the fighting game world back in 1992. But after Mortal Kombat 3, the series got a bit stale until the release of the excellent Mortal Kombat 9 in 2011. So now NetherRealms is attempting to tackle the DC Universe again, after the sub-par release of Mortal Kombat VS DC Universe. This had the makings to be a great crossover fighting game, even rivaling one of the best crossover titles out there, Marvel VS Capcom. But again, it never lived up to its potential. So instead of trying the crossover tactic again, NetherRealms are just focusing on the DC Universe with Injustice: Gods Among Us.
In this universe, Superman has been tricked by The Joker into thinking that the pregnant Lois Lane is actually Doomsday, one of Superman’s most powerful foes, so Superman goes to fight “him” and accidentally kills Lois Lane and his unborn son. Not only that, but Lois’ heartbeat was on a trigger, setting off a nuclear bomb in Metropolis, killing millions more. As you can imagine, this gets Superman pretty angry. He crashes in on Batman interrogating The Joker, snaps after The Joker provokes him, and kills him. This is where the single-player story mode starts at.
The fact that it has a story mode is one of the great things about the game. I love my fighting games, but I find that the vast majority don’t really have any sort of story mode – apart from maybe a quick prologue and then a very short ending sequence. Injustice: Gods Among Us borrows one of the things that made the latest Mortal Kombat game so good, and that’s a single-player experience that actually offers a decent story mode. After the initial intro of Superman going all trigger-happy on The Joker, you then go back to the ‘normal’ DC Universe that most people who read DC comics know about, which doesn’t have a psychotic Superman in it. Some of these heroes are then transported to the evil Superman’s universe to help stop him from ruling the planet. You play as predetermined characters in several chapters, and as the story unravels, you will need to team up with some unlikely allies and go up against enemies that would normally be your friends.
The story mode is very engaging and seems like it could easily be transported over to a comic book – which, if it did, I would definitely read. The only problem is that it’s quite short, able to be completed in around three hours. But then you also have several other modes that most fighting games also have included. The first is Battle Mode, which is your standard face-off against several random enemies before going against the boss character – which, in this case, is Superman. There are several other options as well, though, including battles that add player buffs in the fight, battles that make you poisoned and slowly lose health throughout the fight, and a survival mode where you keep the same health across each fight. These extras are fun additions for any player who likes a challenge – some are really tough.
The next mode is the Star Labs Challenge, which features 10 challenges for each character. These challenges range from just standard fights, fights where you get poisoned and then still have to win, and sometimes there will be obstacles you need to get past to complete the challenge. One of my favorite challenges was one of Catwoman’s where you have to take control of her cat, Isis, and get past obstacles without getting caught. The challenges are different enough that you will want to keep going back and doing them, as each award up to three stars when you complete a particular task. For instance, one challenge has you facing Solomon Grundy as Batman, and you have special zombie bombs you can use to cause extra damage. You get a star if you defeat Grundy without missing with a bomb, but you also get a star if you beat Grundy without using any bombs. So you will want to replay challenges to get them all. The last mode is your standard multiplayer mode – both online and offline – but you also get a King Of The Hill option, which can be very fun. There are also daily challenges through the online mode that you can complete to gain extra experience.
Anyone who’s played the most recent Mortal Kombat game will instantly recognize the controls, as Injustice: Gods Among Us takes many of the combat mechanics into this game as well. The basic controls are fairly easy to get to grips with, and you will quickly learn how to pull off a quick three-to-four-hit combo. It uses a basic, four-button control system, with Square being light attack, Triangle being medium, X being heavy, and Circle used for a character-specific attack. For example, Batman summons three floating batarangs he can shoot at his opponent for extended combos, whereas Superman gains an attack boost for several seconds, giving all his attacks a power boost. Every character also has their own special attacks, and by using all these different moves, you can start landing some really powerful combos.
When you fight, you also slowly build up a special meter you can use to power-up your special attacks by pressing R2, but what you really want to use it on is the super move. Every character has a unique super move that causes a massive amount of damage and looks just plain awesome – although some look like they would hurt a lot more than others. Batman zaps you with a quick charge rod, hits you a few times, throws a batarang at your face, and then runs you over with the Batmobile. Superman, on the other hand, punches you into orbit and then smashes you back down from space. I think it’s pretty obvious which one of these would actually hurt more.
Another thing Injustice: Gods Among Us does – which is something else not many fighting games do – is feature environments you can interact with. Every level has several different objects you can use against your opponent. These range from shooting lasers from flying guns and throwing a piano at someone. Different characters interact differently with certain objects, too. If you’re a gadget-type fighter like Batman, then you interact with a car by jumping on it and then jumping safely away from danger. If you were a power-type like Superman, however, then you interact with the car by picking it up and smashing it over your opponent’s head. The coolest interaction you can do is when you activate a transition. This can only be done on one side of the level (different depending on what level you are on) and is executed by holding Back and X, which does massive damage to your opponent and also shows them getting destroyed by different elements in a new part of the environment. On the rooftops of Gotham, your opponent can get knocked into a wall and then smashed by a wrecking ball, falling onto a railway line. A train will then come steaming in to run them over and knock them into a new part of the level. These little action sequences never get old and I’m always trying to knock my opponents into new areas.
One of the problems Injustice:Gods Among Us has is that unless you are a big DC fan, then there is going to be some characters you’re not going to have any idea who they are. The big guys like Superman, Batman, The Joker and Catwoman are all here, but then you have people like Killer Frost, Raven, Ares and Shazam. While this is a small problem, there are enough of the more popular characters to remedy this, and with the release of a few DC movies recently and the Justice League movie in the works), more and more of these characters will start becoming popular.
The game itself looks great, with each character looking like they’ve just been pulled out of the comic. The level design is also very impressive, especially when you interact with the different parts of the environment and stuff starts exploding in the background. In fact, sometimes there’s so much going on in the background that it looks like it might actually interact with the fight itself. As already mentioned, the super moves and the transition scenes create great little action sequences that not only look really cool, but also give you a quick breather so you can recuperate in the middle of a hectic fight.
Anyone who enjoyed Mortal Kombat 9 is going to enjoy this game, and fans of DC Comics will also like the great representation of heroes and villains. It is a shame that the fatalities that made Mortal Kombat so popular aren’t here, but I think that was one of the problems with Mortal Kombat VS DC Universe. You can’t really show Superman ripping off Batman’s head, so leaving half-arsed fatality attempts out of the game is probably a good thing.