Injustice: Gods Among Us Review
Extra Features: Local Multiplayer (1-2), Online Multiplayer (2-8 players), Download Content, Leaderboards
I've spent the past five days with Injustice: Gods Among Us and it definitely is worth the hype it receives. After playing the demo, I really didn't think too much of it, but after playing the full game it plays a lot smoother than I thought it would. Injustice is a 2D fighting game with a 3D look that is developed by Netherrealm Studios (NRS) with a full cast of DC characters. NRS tried a vs game with Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe (MK vs DCU), but the two franchises didn't quite fit together. Injustice shows that DC characters work far better in their own universe and don't need the support of MK and its finishing moves to win me over.
Injustice has a total of 24 selectable heroes and villains from the DC Universe with four more characters coming in the near future. Many of the DC characters from MK vs DCU return, but they all look different and they all have different moves. I'm so happy to say that nothing was copied over from MK vs DC at all, so everything is fresh once again! All characters brought over from that game were totally reworked. The starting cast is made up of the following lineup:
- Black Adam
- The Flash
- Green Arrow
- Green Lantern
- Harley Quinn
- The Joker
- Killer Frost
- Lex Luthor
- Solomon Grundy
- Wonder Woman
As you can see, the cast is made up of an equal amount of heroes and villains. Each character feels unique and NONE of them feel like MK characters. There are only some slight references to MK characters throughout the entire game, such as Cyborg's overall fighting style having similarities to Drahmin's style from MK: Deadly Alliance or Harley's cupcake bomb flying at an arc like Stryker's grenades. Injustice has its own style for the most part. The overall animation and look of the character is a great step forward for NRS. This game has the smoothest movement per fighter that I have seen in any of their fighters so far. Usually I can pick out stiff animations in their MK games, but there is only some slight stiffness in some of DC character stances this time - other than that, the fighting and overall character movement is very fluid and it looks spectacular.
Each fighter has a range of basic moves, special moves, combo attacks, one super move and a character power all their own. Performance of special moves as well as hitting and receiving damage increase your character's super bar allowing for Meter Burn special moves and a super move. Each character has a certain amount of special moves that can be made more powerful through Meter Burn (pressing RT at the start of each special move) that takes up one fourth of your character's super meter. Meter Burn moves are much like Street Fighter 4's EX attacks. Super Moves take the full super meter bar and take a great deal of damage and are often way overdone. The animations for the super moves are so over the top that they look similar to the amount of detail in MK fatalities. Each of the characters has their own unique character power that can give them enhancements or an extra attack. Character powers recharge over time.
Each match plays out with a character having two life bars. Once a character's first life bar has been taken, the character will fall down then get up to fight again, much like another round starting. During the second life bar, a player can perform a unique attack known as a "Clash" while their character is getting hit (forward + RT on Xbox). During a Clash, both characters prepare to rush each other with an attack and must wager a certain amount of their super meter in order to win the Clash. The player that starts the Clash will get a certain amount of health back depending on how much super meter that player wagers over the other player and the player that the Clash was triggered on will be able to damage the opponent based on how much they wager over the character. This can all end up in a draw, extra damage for the starter or extra health for the starter. It all depends on how much is wagered. Because of this move, it's a good idea to keep your super gauge stocked in order to fight back against it.
The majority of combos in Injustice are either the usual dial combos that we see in MK games or juggles. The overall fighting style is much like a more speeded up MK with much more animation per fighter and extra character powers. Techniques such as backdoor jump kicks and fatalities are not present in this game. Injustice has a total of 15 arenas. These highly destructible stages often have multiple areas that can be fought in. Like a Dead or Alive game, a player can knock another character through a wall or send a character flying into a direction in order to transition to another portion of the area. These transitions take a great deal of damage from a player. Each stage also has several areas of stage interaction where a player can pick up an environmental object then toss it at their opponent or knock a character into the background with the tap the Interact button (RB on Xbox). The stage interaction and transitions make for some flashy looking combat, but they are often cheap hits that take too much damage. Many stage interactions are unblockable. Thankfully these can be turned off for local matches, but they are always active during online battles. You truly have to know your stage as well as you know your character for Injustice.
The single player game for Injustice has a lot to offer as the usual NRS game often does. The story mode is absolutely fitting for the game. The story plays out much like a DC Universe animated movie that you can rent or buy at the store. The voice acting is all very well done and the character interaction is great. Even the dialogue before a fight is impressive - it's far from "let's fight" followed by a quick match. The story has moments of drama and plenty of action much like a comic book fan would expect from a DC animated movie. The overall story is nothing that hasn't been done before but it's still very exciting. Story mode is split up into the usual battles between characters. You'll take control of around half the cast throughout the whole story - heroes and villains. There are a few button tap mini games sprinkled around the story mode, such as shooting cars with Superman's heat vision by tapping on-screen buttons as an attacker tosses the vehicles at you. These button tap mini games are a good break from the usual battles.
Besides story mode, the game has a Battle Mode that has several modes for you to fight your way through a ladder of ten characters. This mode actually has its own character endings that are separate from the main story mode. Extra battle modes can be unlocked through the Archives menu. There are altogether 20 different battle modes. The game also has a S.T.A.R. Labs mission mode that has 10 missions for all characters. Besides completing each challenge, a player must also get a 3-star rank for each challenge by completing bonus objectives. The Lab missions are a mix of training, fighting and variety missions. The amount of variety in S.T.A.R. Labs makes it feel much better than MK9's extra single player challenge mode. There are altogether 240 missions to complete in S.T.A.R. Labs. As usual, there is a training mode and a single fight mode for quick battles.
The multiplayer for the game is similar to MK9's multiplayer setup overall. Besides local play through versus, you have your usual ranked match and player matches. Player matches can be played in a 1 vs 1 style where two players meet and duke it out as much as they want or it can be played with a King of the Hill style or Survivor style. King of the Hill is basically a betting lobby where players can bet on which player might win the next match as they watch through a spectator mode. The winner (king) remains at the top to challenge the next of the eight players in the room. XP is continually added to the main pot so that a new winner receives more XP after beating the king. Survivor mode is similar to King of the Hill except there is no betting. The winner is dubbed "the Survivor" and must perform objectives that are listed on the menu in order to win back health per fight. If the player can perform the objectives (like "throw an interactable object, etc" that player will gain more health back at the end of each fight. Survivor makes it harder for a player to stay on top all the time.
Multiplayer also has the usual fighting lobbies that players can join and fight each other by challenging other players in a lobby. The fights are your basic 1 vs 1 fights. The majority of the online fights that I played in were totally lag-free. There were a few hiccups in the connection every now and then that made the matches slow down, but it was rare. Along with the multiplayer modes, there is also a challenge of the day that awards a player with bonus XP. Speaking of XP, a player can level up through any mode and leveling allows you to unlock armory keys and access cards. These keys and cards can be used to unlock the material in the Archives menu - this includes concept art, extra battle modes, extra costumes, extra music. The game even has a background viewer that allows a player to manipulate arenas by destroying them with a tap of a button.
It's quite sad that the game doesn't have an online replay option since it plays so very well. It would be nice to look up videos of other players in order to see examples of how others play certain characters. Injustice is a major improvement in fighting game development for NRS. The characters don't have the MK "floaty" feel to them and the overall action is much more speedy and fluid. In MK vs DCU, the characters looked like plastic dolls, but in Injustice the character models look MUCH more realistic. If you're a DC comics fan, you should definitely give Injustice a try. If you're not a fan of fighters, at least play the story mode to see the story. The story is easily the most entertaining main story that I have seen in a fighting game. There is plenty of content to keep a single player busy for a while and when you get tired of that, go online and challenge other players. Even fighting fans that don't like the MK style of play should give Injustice a try since it feels quite different from your standard MK fighter.
+ Overall beautiful graphics and fluid animation
+ Equal balance of single player and multiplayer modes
+ Great main story
+ Has a unique feel to it that feels different from an MK fighter
- Environmental interactions and transitions can be annoying online
- No replay option
Final Rating: 90%. Injustice is now among us and it serves up some sweet justice for DC comics fans that have been waiting for a great fighter starring their favorite comic characters.