NetherRealm step away from the blood drenched halls of Mortal Kombat and pull their underpants on over their trousers for Injustice: Gods Among Us. Does it fly or sink like an old Aquaman joke?
Going back to comics seemed an interesting move for NetherRealm, as they would once again have to temper their usual bloodthirst, a move that lead to the disappointing Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe. After all, that was the big problem with MK vs. DC. You can’t have Bane rip out Batman’s spine, even though snapping it across his knee is totally okay. Yet, despite their bloody history, NetherRealm have managed to craft a fighting game that perfectly suits the superhero genre.
Each fighter has a character power, varying from something as simple as shield for Lex Luthor, to arrows for Green Arrow. Of particular note is Nightwing, Wonder Woman and Hawkgirl, whose powers completely change how they fight. These characters have two fighting styles for you to switch between. For the Boy Wonder and Amazonian, you just switch weapons, but Hawkgirl actually takes off into a permanent hover mode. Unfortunately, the character powers are one area I think the game is unbalanced. Maybe I’m missing something, but Superman and Luthor’s temporary shields are far superior to Hawkgirl’s flying, and then there’s Harley Quinn’s luck of the draw, which gives you a one in three chance to get a bomb that is incredibly hard to hit anyone with.
It’s a fighter that’s not overly-friendly to button bashers, either. Injustice is all about timing, special moves and combos. Not quite to the point where one person can easily dominate, stringing one combo together for 64 billion hits and a perfect win just for landing the first punch, but it does reward those that stick with it for some time. Juggling your opponent in the air is never taken to extreme levels, but you can pull off a few extra hits once you’ve mastered the timings. On the other hand, the special moves are pretty easy to pull off, even with the unwieldy Xbox 360 d-pad.
Where does he get those wonderful toys?
The destructive environment, which was so in danger of being a pointless gimmick, actually works really well. The levels are scattered with objects to launch at your opponent for an extra hit and they add to the sense of the superhero slugfest going on. In one or two places I do feel that characters like Wonder Woman and Bane get a slight unfair advantage here. For the most part the majority of hazards work in a similar way for whoever’s taking advantage of them, but there are a few that the street level characters can use to quickly move around the level, while the powerhouses are able to smash them about with a quick button press.
I can’t make my mind up about the Super Moves either. Similar to MK’s fatalities, you build up your power meter and with a quick press of both triggers you can pull off moves that are usually saved for the climax of films. Superman will punch someone into orbit, Green Lantern will smash two buses into them and Flash will run around the world in order to land one hell of a punch.
My problem here is how a few of them look. Most work on any level, like Joker’s and Green Arrow’s, where due to their powers (or lack thereof) it’s quite a subtle affair. Others, like Supes and Hawkgirl, work because they remove themselves from the level. But then you have the likes of Batman and Nightwing who have vehicles arrive, or Aquaman and Green Lantern who magically teleport under the ocean or to the Green Lantern Council Hall in space. The story does such a good job of framing everything else, it just seems really weird when the Batmobile materialises on the JLA Watchtower to run an opponent over. They are all as awesome as they sound, and in a normal match it’s fine, it just feels odd in the story.
Which brings me smoothly to my next point. As you may have guessed I’m a big comic guy, and there are two ways for such a fan to view Injustice: Gods Among Us. One: as a horrible mashup of heroes who should know better than to be fighting each other. Or two: a bit of outrageous fun with our favourite DC heroes going all out to prove who is best. Since that first point pretty much describes DC and Marvel’s printed output of late, I’m going to go with the second.