Stunt Granny Video Game Review: Injustice: Gods Among Us

Injustice Title Image

Who would win in a fight between Batman and Superman?  You know, if Batman had some special supply of kryptonite that would make it a fair fight?  Would Batman’s superior tactics and ridiculously specialized gadgetry win out, or would Superman conquer with his abilities to fly and shoot lasers from his eyes?  Injustice: Gods Among Us asks these questions and lets the players decide the answer in battle.

Injustice: Gods Among Us is a new fighting game from NetherRealm Studios and published by Warner Bros. Interactive.  NetherRealm is run by Ed Boon, one of the creators of Mortal Kombat, and the influences definitely show in Injustice.  The game is available on PS3, Wii U, and Xbox 360; with a free to play version on iOS devices.  This review will be focusing on the PS3 version, but I understand the 360 copy is comparable.

If you are thinking that this sounds familiar, you may have played Midway’s Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe in 2008.  Rest assured, however, Injustice stands apart from the Mortal Kombat games in several ways.  First, the cast is all DC heroes and villains.  The big names are all there: Superman, Batman, The Flash, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Lex Luthor, Catwoman, Sinestro and Joker.  The game also has characters that don’t get the mainstream spotlight treatment, such as Ares, Black Adam, and Killer Frost.

Injustice has 24 playable characters, with DLC promising to add more in the future.

Injustice has 24 playable characters, with DLC promising to add more in the future.

While there are similarities, Injustice also plays a good deal differently that its Mortal Kombat cousins.  Here is a rundown of the basic controls with a little bit of depth on each to follow:  The face buttons on the controller give 3 basic attack buttons (low, mid and high attacks) and a special power button that acts differently for each hero.  The top-left shoulder button is a throw, while the top-right lets you interact with the environment in context sensitive ways. The left trigger is cosmetic, switching whether your character is facing towards or away from the screen. Right trigger lets you make some moves more powerful at the cost of power meter.  Pressing both triggers together will activate a characters supermove, if the power bar is full.

The character power button affects each hero or villain differently.  Superman’s just makes his special attack do more damage, but Flash slows down time for his opponent while he is able to move at regular speed.  Other characters, such as Green Arrow or Ares, use various weapon attacks.  And this is all from the 1 button; each character still has their own unique move-sets and playstyle which means that there is a lot of variety from character to character.

Environmental attacks are another new mechanic to the game, and another one that can vary from character to character.  The game lets you know when you can interact with the environment by putting a button prompt in the corner next to your life bar.  Characters interact with these areas based on their archetypes.  A light, agile villain, like Catwoman, might flip off a statue in the corner for a quick evade; whereas a heavy hitter, like Bane, would just rip the statue up and throw it at the other fighter.

The right trigger activates meter burn, a mechanic that is common among several modern fighters.  Certain special attacks will use up a portion of your super bar if you hold in the right trigger after using the command to execute the move.  In exchange, the move may land extra hits or leave your opponent open for a follow-up attack.  These moves allow the player to make choice of delaying a big damage super move for a timely stun or combo attack.

Super moves replace the fatalities from the Mortal Kombat games in that they are the big spectacle of the game.  Instead of just being for show at the end of a match, they do massive damage if they hit, about half a character’s life bar, and show off some really cool cutscene-like animations from the fighters.  They are simple to execute, just hold down the triggers with a full power bar, but very satisfying to see.  Each character’s is unique in appearance, but many also have different ways of connecting.

Aquaman invites an aquatic friend over for a bite.

Aquaman invites an aquatic friend over for a bite.

Story mode is done well enough.  It shows the story of how and why all these characters are fighting over cutscenes that seamlessly transition into a battle when it’s time for you to fight.  I am not a comic reader, so I cannot compare the story quality to others from the DC Universe.  However, as an outsider to the material, it was enjoyable when viewed with a sense of humor.  If you are not a sci-fi fan, be warned that there are plenty of campy tropes like alternate universes and oddly specific useful devices like a “cosmic treadmill”.  But if you are looking for a fun story that isn’t too serious, you could do worse.

Online play is handled really well.  There are matchmaking options to jump into a game and you can set up lobbies to meet up with like-minded players.  The servers running the game seem to be up for the job as most fights have little to no lag.

Injustice: Gods Among Us is a lot of fun to play, especially with a buddy on the same couch.  If you like fighting games or have an interest in DC comics, the game handles the material from both games well.  Consider a rental if you don’t want to drop the full $60 for the release price. -Will

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One Response

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