Title: Injustice: Gods Among Us
Platform: Wii U (reviewed), PS3, Xbox 360, PS Vita
Release Date: 16/04/2013
Studio/Developers: NetherRealms Studio
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
To begin: the game, in my view isn’t great but it is very ‘competent’. It does what it does well, there is no denying that. The characters & actions are well balanced because of the years of experience that NetherRealms has in the fighting genre (starting back with Midway’s Mortal Kombat franchise) but is unfortunately brought down by the platform which I chose to play it on.
The Wii U with its tablet isn’t the best system for fighting games unfortunately & the ‘traditional controller’ is an expense that I can’t be bothered with because of the lack of games that it supports. I had a chance to play the Playstation 3 version just after its release as an in store demo & the controller felt fine but it is still a game were you need a solid arcade stick set up. Yet that is my constant complaint about console fighters & my nostalgia for the excellent arcade stick that the SNES used to have for the range of Street Fighter II clones that console generated during the 1990’s.
My other issue with the game came before its release. That was because it was utterly tainted by the IGN.com Hype Train, where they plug the ever-loving stuffing out of a game to the point that you’re sick of hearing about it & then basically trash it in review because they got the money they wanted from Warner Bros. This is a unfortunately typical infection for the video games industry & since it doesn’t seem to be changing any time soon, let’s move on.
Since this is an arcade style fighting game -which have been popular for over 25 years- I trust I don’t have to explain how the game play works? You play as Character A, you hit Character B with a series of standard attacks, combos, special & super moves until Character B is either (on screen) dead or unconscious. I:GAU pretty much follows the old Capcom Formula, dropping the standard Mortal Kombat Fatalities & other hallmarks. As said before, the system is very balanced & smooth but is also fast paced & brutal. You can win by Button Mashing but timing & use of environmental attacks can really turn the tide of battle. Speaking of environmental attack, an entire battle can hinge on whether you can pull off a “stage transition” attack, were you knock an opponent into another part of the combat stage, can actually mean that you lose via a technicality more than anything else. Plus you can’t skip them, so they do get boring to watch, even if they aren’t used all that often (same with the Super Moves).
Speaking of backgrounds: it’s unintentionally amusing when you’re fighting a character & they’re waving at you from the background at the same time (see Doomsday battle in the Fortress of Solitude stage). Unfortunately, despite the cool environmental & background attacks, the stages aren’t all that interesting, even with the destructing stuff because it all regenerates next time you are there (or if you fight immediately in the same arena against a different opponent).
But what makes the fighting in I:GAU different from many other fighting games out there is the integration with the story.
This is both a good & very bad thing.
Good in that you actually get a good sized campaign where you try lots of different characters without endlessly replaying to see different endings.
Bad in that there is only one ending, the plot isn’t great, you don’t get much time with characters to learn how to play them and you have to play through Quick Time Events.
Now, an aside about the old QTE: these are old bugbears in modern gaming & basically have no place in this game. They are used to transition between cut scenes & combat but punish you badly if you fail. Unfortunately they do tend to come out of nowhere & throw things (literally in in-game terms) at you from out of nowhere. The controls on the Wii U also proved fiddly for these because of trying to remember which button is where & the slight lag between button pressing & response.
Anyway, the story: Superman goes evil.
That’s it pretty much.
Superman goes evil & tries to take over the world.
As has been pointed out by countless other geeks & comic nerds, this is a well played trope & frankly a bit boring.
Its an Alt World Superman who goes evil.
So, The Joker tricks Superman into accidentally killing Lois Lane, who had a detonator for a Nuclear Bomb wired to her heart, which blows up Metropolis when the signal is cut. Finding out what he did, Superman kills Joker & decides that the world needs protection, so he turns into Super-Hitler & tries to bully everyone into being peaceful. Many of the JL join him, as do former villains who get to kill without question, & Batman forms an underground resistance to stop him.
Yes: sign. It’s all been done before & the logic of how its down is so downright bullshit pathetic that you tend to let it skip.
The same goes for the rest of the plot: where Alt World Batman draws Prime World heroes across dimensions to get a Superman killing device but the good Prime World heroes (well, Batman) has other plans & seek to redeem the Alt World as best they can.
Yes, it’s utter drivel but that’s what’s not important.
Beneath the clunky story & the annoying shifting of characters before you get used to them you get a very refined fighting system. Battles are tough & the difficult ramps up as you progress through the campaign. So opponents whom you slaughtered when you first fought them (I seriously had one stand there for a few seconds to allow me to attack) can actually deal you serious damage when you face them later.
Outside of the story, there is also a very serious challenge mode called S.T.A.R.S. Lab. Where you do certain events or have to win under certain conditions to get small unlocks. This mode really does pad everything out nicely, even if the rewards for it are a pittance really. It’s a good way to get used to characters & a god distraction from the lackluster story.
But the mode that the game is designed for is the Vs. System -the staple of all modern fighters. You get local & online matches (the latter being ranked), both of which offer in-game unlocks. The whole system is geared towards the Professional Competition scene as well as offering an extended reason to play. Unfortunately, I’m fairly misanthropic, so I avoid online & multiplayer stuff -especially after the annoyances of Street Fighter IV’s anytime online arcade-style challenges.
Any-hoo, summary: if you are a fan of fighting games, Mortal Kombat and/or DC related stuff you’ll be happy enough with it. If you want something that is long lasting, exceptionally fun & lets you sink your proverbial teeth into something meaty, you can do worse then this game. There is plenty of DLC for it (which I refuse to pay for) as well as a Gold/Ultimate/Game of the Year edition with all the DLC & bonuses out, so you might want to go with that. As I said at the start: I got it because it was cheap. I had no expectations of it, so it was better than I thought it could’ve otherwise been. Overlook the naff story & the annoyance of the constant character switching & you’ll be fine.
It is what it is & that isn’t always a bad thing.