Fighting games have always intrigued me, even though, no matter how hard I try and how long I practice, I just suck at them. Except for Smash Bros — I’m not so horrible at that. Anyway, Injustice: Gods Among Us has interested me for a while. A fighting game where heroes and villains duke it out? Sweet! Thankfully, my optimism was met with a wide-ranging cast and an absolute ton to do.
- TL;DR: Smash Bros smattering of characters with a Mortal Kombat feel
- Platform: PS4
- Score: 8.8
- Hours Played: 8
- What I Played: Story mode, 25/300 S.T.A.R. labs missions, some online multiplayer
- Recommended: Yes, to anyone who enjoys fighting games
Injustice: Gods Among us has an interesting plot — what happens when Superman decides that all of this “protecting the weak” stuff is bullshit and wants to rule? “What the hell?”, you’re probably saying. “A fighting game with a plot?” Yes, and a surprisingly good one, in fact. The Joker tricks Superman into fighting, and subsequently killing, Lois Lane and their unborn son as well as destroying Metropolis. Struck with grief and helplessness, Superman loses his sense of morality and establishes a world government where he rules with an
iron steel fist. Batman and his band of heroes are out to stop the Man of Steel.
The story mode plays out in an actual, coherent story, as you control heroes like Batman and Green Lantern along with villains like the Joker and Lex Luthor through multiple chapters. Story-feeding cut scenes transition seamlessly into fights, never breaking the immersion. There are lots of quips and callbacks to comic arcs, most of which went over my head but are nice to see. While fighting games aren’t played for the story, it’s nice to see Netherrealm actually put some time and effort into a good single-player campaign. One of my only complaints is the occasional bout of “no way you’re gonna win this one” that comes from the AI. You’ll be strolling along, winning fight after fight, when all of a sudden you’re dominated for three or four rounds in a row before breaking through.
Injustice has the standard fighting game moves — light/medium/heavy attack, launches, throws, blocks, and a super meter. The super meter is used in a few ways, one being Meter Burn. Each character has an array of super moves, like Batman using his grappling hook or the Joker squirting you with his acid flower. These super moves can be powered up by spending one of the four super meter segments, making a move hit a few more times or launch someone further. Of course, a fighting game with superheroes wouldn’t be complete without full-blown Super Moves. A full super meter can be used to activate a Super Move, which must land it’s initial hit before going into a cut scene that deals about 33% of a life bar. For example, Green Lantern smashes his opponent with hammers and airplanes, while Aquaman summons a tidal wave of sharks. Each character also has a Character Power, which can be anything from Bane pumping up with some Venom to Nightwing switching weapons from dual one-hand weapons to a single bo staff.
The standard best-of-three format is slightly upgraded in Injustice with a double life bar. When the first one is drained, the defender stays on the ground for a few seconds while the attacker talks a little smack. Once a match, when both fighters are on their second life bar, a Clash can be initiated. Each fighter can gamble any portion of their super meter, blind to their opponent’s choice. Both fighters will say a little one liner and run at each other full speed, meeting in the middle of the stage and smashing into each other with an explosion. Whichever side gambled more gains the difference as a bonus — the offensive side will do damage while the defensive side gains life back.
Stages in Injustice are integral to the fight. Each stage is ripped from comic book lore, like the Batcave or Metropolis. Furthermore, each stage is littered with interactive objects that do heavy, unblockable damage. In the Fortress of Solitude, for example, you can grab a huge chunk of ice and throw it at your opponent. Most, maybe all, levels also have transitions. If you hit an opponent hard enough to do a would-be “ring out”, they will fly out of the edge of the stage, taking damage along the way until they reach another portion. In Arkham Asylum, kicking an opponent through a cell door leads to a Scarecrow ambush. It’s really fun to see the scale and feel the impact of a hero tumbling through a stage.
Netherrealm, the studio of Mortal Kombat fame, definitely gave a MK feel to Injustice. Unlike some fighting games that have combos in the 50 or over range, each hit in Injustice is visceral and really resonates the damage that it’s doing. Fighters bounce off the floor and walls (and sometimes through them). And of course there is Scorpion, the poster boy for Mortal Kombat, available as DLC or in the Ultimate Edition.
Story mode and online multiplayer are far from everything there is to do in Injustice. There are over 20 Battles to fight, each of which a series of fights with it’s own rules: fight all the heroes, win five fights with a single life bar, etc. There are also 300(!) side missions, 10 per character, that tell a short story, like Superman rescuing Lois Lane from Lex Luthor or Batman tracking down some of his rogue’s gallery. Emblems and backgrounds for your player card give another layer of unlockables.
Another interesting inclusion in Injustice is that of frame and advantage data along with win/loss records for each of character you play. Most players probably won’t look at it, but the upper-tier elite players won’t have far to go to see the nitty gritty detail they want.
Injustice: Gods Among Us is, top to bottom, a great game and a truly spectacular fighting game. Each character has a truly unique fighting style, rather than being a simple palette swap of another fighter. The power and scale of DC’s heroes and villains translates wonderfully with deep, hard-hitting impact and destructible stages. A good story mode, probably the best in any fighting game I’ve ever played, is a welcome addition. Online play, offline modified-rule tournaments, and side missions give Injustice an incredible amount of depth.