Injustice: Gods Among Us Review
Who will come out on top?
MMA and Boxing games aside, I don’t really enjoy any of the more traditional fighting games, but between my son bugging me about it and my fondness for the DC Comics characters, I just couldn’t ignore Injustice: Gods Among Us. The game was released last week, so this review is a little late, but I just had to check it out for myself and I figured I might as well tell you about it while I was at it.
Going into Injustice: Gods Among Us I didn’t really know what to expect. I knew most of the characters in the game and I knew there would be lots of fighting but I definitely didn’t expect to find a really cool story to go along with it. Whether you’re a long time fan of the DC Comics series or just a casual fan of some of the characters and their more recent games and movies, you’ll appreciate the interesting way that the Story Mode was designed and the fairly complex story that it tells. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I will say that the game opens with The Joker forcing Superman to destroy Metropolis with a nuclear weapon and all hell breaks out with heroes and villains fighting all across the world. That’s only the beginning of a well crafted Superhero story that takes place across multiple universes and stars the entire cast of characters.
It doesn’t matter how good of a story they tell if the fighting isn’t any good, but that’s not a problem for NetherRealm as they’ve done this a few times with Mortal Kombat, so they know how to create a great fighting system. During the Story Mode, cutscenes will seamlessly transition into in-game fights and straight back out when they’re over, making it feel more like an interactive movie than a game. If this was the only mode in Injustice I would be more concerned, but this is just the tip of the iceberg as far as content is concerned. Before we get to the other modes, let’s talk about the real reason you’re here: the combat.
Injustice: Gods Among Us features one of the best combat systems that I’ve ever seen in a fighting game. It moves very fast, with fluid character animations as you cycle through the massive list of moves and it comes together to create some of the most intense and devastation action that you can find in a fighting game. Every character has access to basic attacks, air attacks and combos, but then they all have their own unique special attacks and super move as well. The button combinations are reused, but the majority of the moves that you’re doing are different with each character and with 24 characters on the roster, there are a lot of moves to master. This is really where Injustice almost lost me, because, much like other traditional fighting games, it has a steep learning curve. Switching back and forth between characters in the Story Mode is necessary for the story, but it doesn’t help when you’re still memorizing the moves for one of them, only to now have to control a different character.
Performing combos like X, X, A aren’t so bad, but memorizing and pulling off some of the more complex moves took a lot longer. I’ve always been more of a Batman fan myself, so I ended up choosing him most often. I can handle moves like Caped Crusader, which is Y, Y, A, or his Sky Grapple, which is Down, Left, X, but putting them together to do Y, Y, A, Down, Left, X, is another story. You can also apply Meter Burn by adding RT to the end of the combo and increase its damage, but that’s just adding another button to an already complex combination. I’m sure I’ll get better with time, and it’s definitely not the game’s fault. What I really like are the Super Moves, which you can use once you fill your Meter by pressing LT + RT. Batman’s for example, has him first smash his opponent with a Batarang and smoke bomb, then shock them with dual tasers, followed by a knee to the face, then hit them with a Batarang just before the Batmobile comes out of nowhere and runs them down. Some of them are a little more simple and some of them, such as Aquaman’s that ends with him feeding his opponent to a shark, are even better, and it never gets old seeing them in action.
My main issue with Injustice is that sometimes it doesn’t want to recognize certain button inputs. It didn’t happen a lot, but I noticed a few times when I tried a combo like X, X, Y it would do the first X but not the second one, which then means whether I hit Y or not is meaningless. I went into the Practice mode to explore this further and it would work fine multiple times and then all of a sudden it wouldn’t do it and my character wouldn’t perform the combo. I also just bought a brand new controller, so I know it’s not a sticky button or something on my end. If it occurs at the wrong time, it can mean ending up on the wrong side of a deadly combo instead of standing over a fallen opponent. Besides that, I had no other technical issues with the game.
The roster in Injustice: Gods Among Us is made up of Batman, Superman, The Joker, Lex Luthor, Green Lantern, The Flash, Nightwing, Green Arrow, Cyborg, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Raven, Hawkgirl, Shazam, Sinestro, Black Adam, Bane, Doomsday, Catwoman, Killer Frost, Ares, Deathstroke, Soloman Grundy and Harley Quinn. You won’t unlock any additional characters, but you can unlock different skins for the characters that are there to mix things up. It’s a pretty big roster, with both popular and lesser known characters having their turn in the spotlight.
There are 12 different arenas that you’ll fight in, with locations like Wayne Manor, Gotham City, Arkham Asylum, Metropolis, Fortress of Solitude, Atlantis and the Batcave, just to name a few. The level of destruction that occurs during each fight and the interactive objects on each arena only add to the action in Injustice. As I mentioned in my preview last month, there are multiple interactive points of interest on each map, with both objects that you can pick up and parts of the map that you can smash your opponent into. As the action heats up, buildings will crumble around you, windows will shatter and cars will explode, adding to an already exciting experience.
Aside from the Story Mode, the Single Player portion of the game also includes Battles, S.T.A.R Labs, Single Fight and Training. Single Fight and Training are pretty self-explanatory at this point I think, and Battles are classic ladder-based tournaments that you’ve seen in many fighting games over the years and then there’s over 200 challenges in the S.T.A.R Labs. During all of these modes you will earn XP, and as you level up you’ll unlock new character skins, XP Boosts, backgrounds, icons and portraits for your Hero Card. Injustice includes a surprising amount of content for a fighting game and it’ll keep you busy for a while. The S.T.A.R Labs challenges alone could make up an entirely separate game, so you’re definitely getting your money’s worth with Injustice.
The multiplayer side of Injustice: Gods Among Us features some really cool online modes. First up are standard 1V1 Ranked Matches, which are just straight up regular fights that will reward you with XP if you win and cost you some if you lose, and increase and decrease your TrueSkill rank as well. This for highly skilled players to prove just how good they are. If you’re a beginner, you’ll probably want to avoid the frustration of losing Ranked matches, over and over.
If you want something a little more casual you can play non-ranked matches of 1V1, King of the Hill and Survivor. In King of the Hill you’ll enter this really cool lobby system that shows the room’s players on the left and the current match on the right, so when you’re not fighting you get to watch those that are. This is something I’ve always wanted in the UFC games and NetherRealm executed it better than I could have imagined. Once you enter the lobby, you’ll wait for your turn to fight the King and you can bet XP on who you think will win while you watch. In Survivor, you enter the same lobby system, with the difference being that this King’s health and character selection carry over from fight to fight. You can still spectate the fights but you can’t bet XP in Survivor. Of course, you can also play 1V1 local matches with other player as well.
The multiplayer setup in Injustice is pretty neat, but after losing fight after fight, I remembered why I don’t play fighting games online. The Injustice community is already so good, that it’s pointless for me to even bother trying to fight them. Good luck.
Whether you’re a hardcore fan of fighting games, the DC Comics universe or both, there’s a lot to love about Injustice: Gods Among Us. It has a surprisingly good Story Mode, plenty of extra single player content to keep you busy and one of the coolest multiplayer systems that I’ve ever seen. I may not be the best to judge a fighting game, but Injustice is one of the best fighting games that I’ve ever played. Whether it stacks up against your current favorite or not is up to you. You’ll just have to take what you now know about Injustice and decide whether or not it’s something that you want to play, but I don’t think you’ll regret it if you do.
Release Date: April 16th, 2013
Available On: Xbox 360 and Playstation 3