Injustice works both as a love letter to comic book fans and a fighting game you can take seriously.
Fighting games based on comic books sound like a terrific idea and over the years, there have been several attempts at bringing the brawls that you’d usually find in the pages of a graphic novel to consoles. What sets Injustice: Gods Among Us apart is that this game in particular has been created by legendary developer NetherRealm Studios (which brought us the fantastic Mortal Kombat reboot that came out in 2011) and the fact that this game only features characters from Detective Comics.
The world of Injustice is set in an alternate universe where The Joker tricks Superman into killing his wife, Louis Lane, and the criminal also detonates a nuclear contraption that destroys Metropolis and murders millions of citizens. This leaves The Man of Steel emotionally wrecked and he kills The Joker in retaliation as Batman tries to interrogate the villain. Superman then becomes a tyrant and establishes an authoritarian regime known as One Earth where he rules with an iron fist, but Batman starts a revolutionary group with other superheroes, creating a war between the two factions. Eventually, Batman’s insurgency group discovers a parallel universe and teleports several heroes into his world to stop the tyrant once and for all.
Mortal Kombat 9 introduced a robust story mode to a genre that seldom had any and Injustice continues that trend with a memorable and enjoyable plot. Although the story in Injustice seems like an excuse for DC characters to fight each other, the dark tone is more than welcome, especially in a world where superhero movies feel safe and frankly, plain. I also enjoyed the fact that Superman (the strongest and therefore, the most boring superhero) goes insane because there’s a problem he can’t fix. This makes the character more human than ever.
There are some new features in terms of gameplay. As you attack enemies, your super meter increases and this allows you to perform special moves. Additionally, pressing the right trigger after a super results in a more powerful attack known as Meter Burn which consumes one section of the super meter. Super moves are the most devastating attacks and require a full meter to able to pull them off.
Then there’s The Clash (not to be confused with the seminal punk band) which is a move that gives you a way to escape an attack or combo by spending energy from the super meter. The defender can get health back and the attacker can make extra damage. The Clash can only be used once per match, per character and once the first health bar is gone. Once The Clash has been initiated there’s a phase where you secretly wager an amount of energy from the super meter and the one who spends more energy wins and either receives extra health or makes damage.
During some battles from the story mode there are quick-time events where you need to push buttons and if you complete this sequence correctly, your opponent will start with less health. Although there’s nothing particularly unique about these sequences, they offer a nice change of pace to the typical fighting game story mode where you play one fight after the other, watch a cutscene and nothing else.
All arenas have interactive objects that can be used to escape certain situations or to make more damage to the opponent. These different areas are inspired and anyone who has read DC Comics for a while will probably recognize most of them and appreciate the level of detail that the developers paid to each scenario.
Apart from story, versus and online multiplayer modes, the game includes a bunch of missions called S.T.A.R. Battles. In this mission-based mode, you need to defeat an opponent, but there are usually some modifiers or specific requirements you need to meet to complete them. For instance, some fights require you to avoid attacks for 30 seconds or land level transitions. Your performance is graded with stars and to receive a higher rank, you need to complete additional objectives, such as win the fight and land a five-hit combo. There are 240 of these missions and they are guided which means that the game always tells you what to do to fulfill the main objective. Most of the missions are entertaining and varied and there are so many of them that you have hours and hours of entertainment.
Injustice works both as a love letter to comic book fans and a fighting game you could take seriously. There are unique fighting mechanics that set it apart from the competition, a robust story mode that will keep you entertained for a few hours, hundreds of single-player missions and some competent versus and multiplayer modes. There’s a lot to like in Injustice even if it follows the same formula as its Mortal Kombat predecessors.