by Brian Robbins
In 2008 a very strange fighting game called Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe was released. Although it was a sloppy title, it proved one undeniable fact: playing as a superhero in a fighting game rocks. While playing, I found myself wishing that there weren’t any Mortal Kombat characters in the title- I don’t have a problem with them per se; it’s just that Sub-Zero can’t hold a candle to Batman. Luckily, I got my wish this year with Injustice: Gods Among Us, from NetherRealm Studios. I’m pleased to say that this game is incredibly true to the characters and even though the storyline was very short, it was still a blast to progress through.
If you’re familiar with DC’s stellar collection of animated movies, you’ll feel right at home with the story. Basically, Joker’s up to no good and he’s ruining the Justice League’s- and specifically Superman’s- day. Without revealing too much, you’ll be battling with and against some of DC comic’s biggest heroes and villains. I must say the battle between Batman and Nightwing was a particular highlight for me. Also, what’s up with Lex Luthor looking like Bruce Willis?
Besides the story mode being woefully short, another issue I had with it was unnecessary quick time events. They really serve no purpose other than distract you from dialogue or traditional fighting game play. Towards the end, you’ll be playing as Superman and you’re shooting his heat vision at cars from traffic being thrown at you. Superman destroying innocent commuters? Come on, Superman! Needless to say, these scenes feel clunky and out of place. Luckily, they’re few and far between.
Unfortunately, some of the cut-scenes that provide you with the storyline look dismal. It’s not a huge deal but it’s worth noting. Occasionally, the textures looked flat out hideous. All is forgiven though when the characters themselves look and move gorgeously. From the Flash’s jittery hops to Green Arrow’s pompous fighting stance, NetherRealm was incredibly accurate to the source material. I didn’t feel that any of the cast was incorrectly portrayed in the game.
What you really dying to know is how’s the game play? Well, if you were one of the many fans of the new Mortal Kombat reboot that came out in 2011, you’ll love this game. The combos work well, and are pretty easy to pull off but incredibly hard to master. With such a cast of fan-favorite characters it’s hard to focus on just one. I really recommend that you play through the story and you’ll get to experience playing as most of the cast.
The characters are all different enough that you’ll have to play as each one. Whether you want to zip around and crack and whittle the health bars with The Flash or break backs with Bane, you’ll have enough varied characters to entertain your most die-hard comic book fantasies. That being said, some of the characters need to be balanced and tweaked just a bit more. Surprisingly enough, I felt like Aquaman was one of the strongest characters in the game. Who saw that coming?
A new feature to this game that was absent with the Mortal Kombat reboot is interactive environments. If you’re fighting in the Batcave you can shoot off missiles from the Batmobile, or if you’re in the fortress of Solitude you can knock opponents into Doomsday. It’s interesting enough and at times can look incredible but it can also become a distraction. I would much rather use the actual moves of certain characters than worry about floating cars or exploding barrels. It’s a cool idea but at times it can be a little cheesy.
Another mode that’s sure to interest players is S.T.A.R. Lab missions. In these you’re given specific guidelines on how to beat certain scenarios. They’re varied in difficulty: in one mission I was to simply press button sequences, and in another I had to survive 20 seconds without being hit. It’s very similar to what Mortal Kombat has done in the past. I’m a big fan of these and they were interesting enough to play through and try to beat every single one of them.
Multiplayer appears to be a fully fleshed-out experience, if it would ever work. Frankly, as of now, it takes forever to connect to a game and if you finally do it might crash and send you back to the menus. This was also a problem with Mortal Kombat when it launched in 2011. Hopefully, NetherRealm learns from its past and delivers a quick remedy to this problem.
With a brief single player, and a barely functioning multiplayer one might not think too highly of this new fighter by the people who brought you Mortal Kombat. But when playing properly, it’s an incredibly fun fighting game. The gameplay is tight- albeit maybe not as balanced as it should be- but at its very core the game is a blast to play. With plenty of unlockables and S.T.A.R missions to master I could see myself playing this for quite a while. The real question is can NetherRealm studios fix the issues in a timely manner with a patch? Only time will tell. Until then I’ll be busy breaking Batman’s back with Bane.