Injustice: Gods Among Us
Developer: NetherRealm Studios
Price: $60
Platform: PS3/Wii-U/Xbox 360
A PS3 copy of Injustice: Gods Among Us was supplied to us

It’s been a while since NetherRealm Studios dropped the fantastic Mortal Kombat on us and now they arrive with something that’s reminiscent of MK9, yet still manages to be different enough to not need to ride on the coattails of Mortal Kombat.

If you haven’t been keeping up with the prequel comics then you missed out on some pretty crazy events that set the stage for Superman’s rise to king of Earth. After being fooled by Joker into killing his wife and unborn child Supes decides to use his immense power to take over the planet to eliminate crime and war, at the cost of everyone’s freedom. Batman decides enough is enough and uses a machine to pull a few heroes from an alternate reality into his own and you’ll alternate between them all as you work your way through the campaign. The story is incredibly cheesy and you’ll be rolling your eyes when they briefly mention that Superman created a pill that gives you super strength that he gives to his flunkies but Batman stole a few crates which explains why people like Harley can go toe-to-toe with Shazam; you’re not here for the story and the game knows this which is probably why it doesn’t bother to go into detail on some things.

Injustice shares a few things with the last Mortal Kombat game but it’s also different enough that it doesn’t really feel like you’re playing the same game. For starts there’s no block button and Injustice only has three attack buttons; the way you perform the combos for various characters also feels a bit different too. I’m pretty content with the roster but I’m sure many people would argue that it’s a bit too heavy with all the Bat family characters, something I’d agree with. Other than that, the roster is great and doesn’t fall into the trap many other fighting games do where a quarter of the roster is full of identical characters; everyone plays completely differently due to their move-sets, character power, and how they interact with the environment. To spice things up further, the game features something neat called powers that’s unique for each character. Batman summons a couple bat drones he can shoot at you, Green Arrow has a variety of arrow types he can cycle between, and Wonder Woman straight up changes stances by replacing her lasso for a sword & shield which opens a whole new set of combos for her. It’s a fun feature that really helps separate all the characters from each other and helps stop everyone from feeling too similar. There’s also the new clash system where you can interrupt another player’s combo to wager some of your meter in an attempt to regain some health or do some damage. If you manage to bet more meter than your opponent you’ll win the wager but I usually found it to be somewhat useless. People I played against were more likely to just use their meter for special moves or supers than use it for a clash so they rarely had any meter to bet.

Now not many hardcore fighting game fans are going to enjoy the interactive arenas but I personally love it. Watching the area you’re in fall apart as two superhuman tanks toss each other around is pure eye candy. Besides that you can also kick the other player through a wall into another arena with almost all the stages in the game having three possible arenas to fight in. These attacks are not only devastating to the person on the receiving end but sometimes border between looking incredibly painful to being so over the top it’s hilarious. There are also objects you can interact with in the environment such as grenades dropping into the field in the Batcave or hovering robots you can pick up and slam on other players. Not all characters behave the same for each interactive item though. A character like Batman will use a globe to hop away to put some distance between him and his opponent but someone like Superman will just pick the globe up and chuck it at you. It’s a nice bit of variety that forces you to learn how each character behaves with the items in the arena so that you’ll know how to react to them when they activate them.

I’m happy to say that the online mode of Injustice is a lot more stable than Mortal Kombat was on release. I rarely had any issues during a fight besides the occasional player with a shit connection. The highlight of the multiplayer is of course the King of the Hill mode where you can get into a room of eight people as you all try to take down the current king and hold the spot should you get it. If you’re not currently fighting then you can view the fight and even vote on things like who will win or if a player will complete a challenge during the fight. It’s all pretty well done and easily some of the most fun I’ve had playing a fighting game online.

Besides fighting other players online (or losing horribly in my case) there’s also the S.T.A.R. Lab for you to play around with. This is basically Injustice’s take on Mortal Kombat’s Challenge Tower with around a dozen missions per character. Each character has a bit of a story with some subtitled dialog which helps spice things up, but it usually amounts to your character saying “HEY YOU’RE IN MY WAY” with the other responding with “GRRR, I AM HERE AS AN OBSTACLE SINCE I AM AN ANTAGONIST”. The missions themselves vary from straight up fights, to QTE minigames, and weird stealth missions where you’ll control Catwoman’s cat. Each mission also has three objectives you’ll need to complete if you want to access the later missions and you usually won’t be able to unlock all three at once; some will require you to replay a mission two or three more times. My only gripe with this mode is that I would’ve really preferred it if I could jump straight into the missions for the characters I actually want to play as instead of having to slog through half the roster of characters I don’t particularly care for.

There’s also your typical battle mode where you’ll pick a character and go up the ladder of various people you’ll have to fight before unlocking an ending for said character. There are variations to this mode you can unlock in the archive and you’ll get more than enough unlock points to get them all by playing through the story. The extra battle modes change things up with various modifiers like starting each match with a quarter of health, beat each opponent in under 30 seconds, or having unlimited super meter but supers being disabled. The extra battle modes are varied enough to at least catch your attention but some of them can be pretty brutal.

Besides costumes and battle mode variations you can also unlock your typical concept art and music, but also extra portraits for your profile hero card. These include some neat shots from various comics but it’s mostly Superman, Batman, and Joker stuff.

NetherRealm really nailed the art style down with this game with the game having a nice gritty/realistic look without falling too far into looking cartoony. Characters like Grundy look really menacing and the designs for most of the characters look pretty damn good; there’s also a surprising amount of detail on all the models. The only thing that’s a bit weird with the graphics is anytime the game jumps into a cutscene; textures start to look a bit muddy and the character models clash horribly with the environment if it’s not one of the fighting stages.

The Final Word
With the S.T.A.R. Labs there to make sure you don’t get rid of your game anytime soon, Injustice offers you a serious bang for your buck and is a damn fine fighting game to boot.

- MonsterVine Rating: 4 out of 5 – Good