The Man of Steel soared to new heights at E3 2012 when Warner Bros Interactive showed off Injustice: Gods Among Us. The new game from NetherRealm Studios’ solidified the developer’s claim as the industry’s leader in fighting games.
Street Fighter II had popularized the fighting genre. Then, the franchise watered down the market it made famous. Playing through the single player campaign was almost worthless. Outside of the first SoulCalibur, campaign modes in fighting games were a distant memory. When Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe hit the gaming scene in 2008, Midway showed us exactly what it meant to give gamers a truly innovative and immersive fighting game. Merging the Mortal Kombat mythos with DC Comics’ famed characters, the game offered players a unique approach to the fighting genre. Instead of simply fighting your way through a plastered-on story and waiting for a two-second cut-scene ending, gamers had a fully fleshed out story arc that matched some of the best action-adventure games of the time. Sure, there were a few problems with the mechanics and playing against Flash or Green Lantern in an online match was a guaranteed “cheese” fest, but the game bucked the Street Fighter II trend.
Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, said “No” to ripping off gamers. In 2011, NetherRealm took Mortal Kombat to the Nth level. The campaign integrated the full Mortal Kombat mythos in an epic story that rivaled a feature film. The challenge towers gave gamers another campaign to work their way through, unlocking nearly endless bonuses.
Injustice: Gods Among Us is NetherRealm’s promise of a continued mission to evolve the fighting genre. Utilizing the newly revamped costumes of DC Comics’ characters, the visual style of Injustice is nothing short of spectacular. Superman’s costume already drums up thoughts of 2013’s Man of Steel film–from director Zack Snyder–starring Henry Cavill. Although I can’t get on board with the Flash’s metallic finish or gladiator suit (it has several sharp edges), his fighting style embraces several elements from comics as well as the Justice League Unlimited cartoon. Stylistically, Batman also has an “armored” looking suit, and fights like Scorpion with his Batarang.
The core fighting of Injustice is intense. If you’ve ever played a fighting game, you know that the great tragedy is getting stuck in a corner. NetherRealm has finally addressed this problem with environment benefits. If you get stuck in a corner in Batman’s Batcave, you can grab onto the Bat computer and trigger a missile attack against your enemy. The opposite end of the screen has three chambers holding Bruce Wayne’s bat suits. If the glass chambers are broken you can use some of the gadgets that fall from Batman’s utility belts, such as bombs. You can also throw your opponent into loose circuits hanging from the ceiling. It doesn’t feel too gimmicky. These environment attacks are primarily used to give you some time to maneuver and catch your bearings if you’re getting hammered. Hopefully, players don’t exploit this into a cheese fest.
Each stage will have more of these corner-jam benefits. Stages are also multi-tiered. The top floor of the Batcave has the Batmobile, but if you knock your opponent down the lower level, Dead or Alive style, you will see the Batboat. Once again, there are different ways to interact with the environment. When you’re on the lower level, you can knock your opponent into the elevator and ride it back up to the top floor. All the time, you can continue the fight.
Injustice features a Legion of Super Heroes style city, or a futuristic Metropolis, which is also multi-tiered. Depending on the character a player chooses, you will be able to interact with different objects in unique ways. For instance, Batman will bash your head against a car hood, while Solomon Grundy will pick up that same car and bash his opponent over the head with it. You can also knock your opponent from the street to the top floor of a building and continue the fight. Don’t like heights? Knock your opponent down the bottom floor of the building to fight. Don’t like bottom floors? Knock your opponent through the pipes in the walls and take him right back to the streets. It’s all together awesome.
Although the game doesn’t have X-Ray attacks (at least it hasn’t been revealed yet) like Mortal Kombat, you will have super moves as well as a Clash mode for when you lock arms with an opponent. Superman’s super is an uppercut that knocks his opponent into outer space. Solomon Grundy will deliver an explosive barrage of attacks, like Hulk bashing Loki in The Avengers, before taking a tombstone out of his gut to bash his opponent over the head. It’s a nice touch for comic fans since it’s the original Cyrus Gold tombstone, the man before he became Grundy. Batman delivers some brutal Arkham City style attacks. Then he hangs you upside down, interrogation style.
The best super so far belongs to the Flash. He runs to gather momentum and delivers a crushing punch. It’s a throwback to the finale of Justice League Unlimited, where the Flash went up against Lex Luthor merged with Brainiac. By the way, lets hope Brainiac is in the game. He is in the Lego: Batman 2 game so I can’t see him getting left out of this one.
Injustice: Gods Among Us is an ambitious title and one of our top picks from E3.