By Chris Matulich, October 16, 2012
The first go around for DC superheroes in a fighting game this generation (Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe) was met with very mixed reactions, as the MK team had yet to hit their stride like they did with the most recent Mortal Kombat reboot. Flash forward a couple of years - MK has become a fighting household name again and DC Comics has seen yet another reboot resurgence. Now we're graced with a pure DC fighter in Injustice: Gods Among Us, being developed by the MK team. Is it a recipe for greatness?
Well Injustice is certainly a gorgeous game, utilizing a serious tone for our heroes and their hideouts, where vibrant colors and spandex are traded for darker shades and leather. Heroes and villains move fluidly and look superb, and it's clear much attention was paid to detail, as each character holds the same quality as they do in the comics, from Batman's endless utility belt to the newly acquired sword and shield Wonder Woman now utilizes.
Level design is equally impressive, receiving the same stylized attention, where the Fortress of Solitude looks much more realistic. Taking a page out of Dead or Alive, each stage also has equipment to utilize or hazards to string combos together, such as utilizing a giant laser hanging in Superman's fortress or a flying vehicle that acrobatic characters can utilize to get behind their opponents. The interactivity the backgrounds possess adds another layer to the game.
The gameplay follows the Mortal Kombat 2D style of fighting, but some changes to the core gameplay have been made. No rounds are present, and each character receives two full bars of life. Each hero and villain can perform 3 different light combo attacks, as well as each getting specific attacks akin to their powers. Batman makes use of his gadgets, Solomon Grundy his daggers and extreme strength, the Flash utilizes his super speed to slow the world around him, and of course Green Arrow has a varied ranged repertoire. Balance is already an issue (even confirmed by one of the producers exhibiting the game), as Green Arrow can spout off ranged attacks with reckless abandonment, and the Flash moves egregiously fast compared to other quick characters like Nightwing or Batman.
Injustice favors more nimble fighters, as they can rush, throw opponents into hazards, juggle, and repeat moves with much more ease, controlling the fight as they see fit, so all you Solomon Grundy fans out there are going to be disappointed unless there are some significant balance changes between now and release. Move lists are nonetheless robust and varied, giving each hero or villain a great array of techniques to battle with, and there are even level specific ultra attacks. Everyone also has a cinematic ultra at their disposal. These are a perfect mix of being beneficial, easy to pull off, and just simply amazing to watch. Batman's is especially great, as it ends with a slick backflip to avoid the Batmobile just in time to watch it smash into his opponent.
This is definitely a title to keep on your radar. It combines many of the genres more alluring aspects, such as super attacks, fast paced battles, and level interactivity, yet adds its own style with character role attacks and having a relatively unused cast of characters. Those who are more drawn to the superhero aspect of the game may want to brush up on their fighting skills, since Injustice isn't very beginner friendly at the moment. Many comic enthusiasts at the show were getting absolutely wrecked by those more adept at gaming, with many sour tastes left in the mouths of the uninitiated. Though some balancing issues exist with Flash and Green Arrow already, it's nothing to worry about with so much time between now and release, which is set for 2013.