Injustice: Gods Among Us was one of the biggest wild cards heading into this year’s E3 because no one could be sure how a fighting game based on the DC Universe and developed by the creators of last year’s Mortal Kombat would turn out. On the final day of the show I was invited to observe the game in action with an extensive demonstration led by the development team. As such, Injustice was one of the last games I saw at E3 and I am happy to report that it allowed me to end my time there on a very positive note.
The first fight of the demonstration took place between Superman and The Flash in the Bat Cave. The first thing you notice about Injustice is how great the characters look. The developers felt free to do their own modern take on the iconic costumes, aiming for a more cinematic interpretation while staying true to the comic lore. Superman’s suit hugs his figure perfectly, with appropriate steel accompaniment, all topped off by a face that for once gleams with personality. The Flash meanwhile sports his familiar red suit that pulsates with surges of electricity featuring texture work so detailed you can practically see the stitching. Superman hovers just above the ground while he moves back and forth while Flash saunters about with his trademark swagger.
The move sets of each character are in line with all we’ve come to expect from them over the years. Superman can shoot laser from his eyes and slam into foes with his arms outstretched from a distance. The Flash is all about speed and gets up close to throw swift punches and kicks. One of the key components of the game is that the way you use the environment factors in to the outcome of the fight just as much as the way you use the character. For instance as the battle progressed and each combatant was repeatedly slammed against all manner of surfaces the Bat Cave started look like the ground zero of an epic showdown, which it was. Not only can each character make use of the environment to deal out more damage but they do so in a manner appropriate to their personality. One example is when it came to throwing barrels Superman tossed them overhand with force whereas The Flash rolled them speedily underhand.
Right before the fight ended, the developers took time out to show off each hero’s special moves. Up first was The Flash who stunned Superman then proceeded to charge up a punch by running all the way around the globe to deliver a devastating one two punch. Superman got his revenge by using his own super move which was equally global in scale. He lifted The Flash high above the Earth before slamming him mercilessly to the ground. That last move ended the fight which led to Superman’s victory cinematic. The Man of Steel hovered in Earth’s orbit contemplating his victory before hearing a voice scream out for help somewhere and immediately flying in the direction from whence it came
Because this was one of the last demonstrations of the show the developers decided to show off an unscripted bonus fight between Wonder Woman and Harley Quinn in Superman’s fortress of Solitude. Again, both femme fatales were recognizable but would look at home in a big budget movie based on their comics. Harley in particular moves about playfully yet seductively as she brandishes two guns. Wonder Woman is unique in that she has two battle stances. She can hover like Superman or she can walk on the ground armed with a sword and a shield in an Amazonian battle stance. The Fortress of Solitude was equals in terms of destructibility and interactivity with the BatCave. At one point Wonder Woman slammed the spaceship Superman came to Earth as a baby over Harley’s head and Harley in response forced Wonder Woman through a portal to the negative zone where she received quite a beating. Once more we were treated to demonstrations of these heroine’s super powered moves. Wonder Woman lassoed Harley and with help from a few Amazonian warriors drew blood with a combination of sword and lance strikes. Conversely, Harley lit Wonder Woman up with a few gunshots before leaving a pastry beneath her which she subsequently detonated so it caused a huge explosion.
The final fight took place between Batman (as if they would leave him out) and Solomon Grundy (born on a Monday). This battle took place in a stage called FutureCity. Batman’s suit was gun metal grey and reinforced with multiple steel pads. Solomon Grundy was a hulking white hobo with a tattered shirt and shoes with about a dozen knives protruding from his back. He would grab at those knives and swing them mercilessly at Batman which complemented his many powerful attacks and brutal slams. Batman used his gadgets and precision to land devastating hits of his own. When it comes to the environment, Batman slammed Grundy’s head onto the hood of a car repeatedly whereas Grundy slammed the car over Batman’s head just once. FutureCity is massive with three unique environments to fight in (accessed by smashing your opponent through barriers). When this fight was over, Batman was perched victoriously on the ledge of a building before swinging off once he saw the Bat Signal appear in the sky.
This is just a brief taste of the many wonderful things Injustice: Gods Among Us plans to bring to comic book and fighting game fans when it launches on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Wii U sometime in 2013. NetherRealm Studios are crafting a game that eschews fighting game norms such as rounds or an announcer, in favor of visceral, in your face superhero showdowns that fanboys and girls dream about. The only question that remains is what will the developers do to make Aqua Man seem cool?