Justice is Served

INJUSTICE_11Injustice: Gods Among Us is the latest creation from NeatherRealm studios, the developers behind the legendary Mortal Kombat franchise.  Injustice brilliantly combines elements of the fighting game genre paying homage to its predecessors (Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter) while providing an extremely large amount of comic book fan fare in the process.  The result is an incredibly fun experience for comic book fans and gamers that does justice to the source material.

The game’s story itself is extremely over the top but it does explore a question almost every comic fan has wondered at some point:  “What would happen if Superman snapped?”  Following the death of Lois Lane and his unborn child, Superman who feels responsible, decides to no longer hold back and influence the world, but actively change it.  His new world order is about as pleasant as that of any dictator, and the heroes and villains of the DC Universe have to choose sides if they want to survive.  The resistance is lead by Batman, perhaps the last true hero, who refuses to bow before the injustice of Superman’s new regime. Batman’s quest to stop his former friend leads to a tale of parallel earths, time paradoxes and duplicate heroes that will make any DC Comics fan feel right at home.  The story has a surplus of cool moments and almost every cutscene is filled with a number of references and fan services that will make you smile.  A particular favorite of mine is when the Aquaman from our earth fights evil Aquaman for the throne of Atlantis.  Did I mention Aquaman is one of the most bad ass characters in this game?  Don’t believe me?  Just watch a video of his super move where he summons the ocean and a massive shark to his aid or how he shouts “Almighty Neptune!” after winning a round. Trust me, he is awesome.

Its not just during the story where the comic references are prevalent either.  There is fan service for DC Comics fans at every single part of this game. Every line of dialogue either in the story or during the versus matches tries to stay true to the characters.  Sure there are some misses but overall the extent they went to in order to bring these characters to life is amazing.   My favorite is when Green Lantern uses one of his special attacks he shouts “Beware my power, Green Lantern’s Light!”

Perhaps one of the best feature of Injustice is its accessibility.  Accessibility is common theme amongst modern games.  Often the word frightens true gamers as it can mean the game is “dumbed” down to allow for more casual players to become interested, and as a result they can make more money.  Don’t worry, while Injustice is incredibly accessible and user friendly it maintains all of the proper fighting game elements to make it competitive for those who wish to take it seriously.

This creates an interesting element that isn’t present in too many games today.  Injustice happens to be one of the only video games on the market to showcase DC Comic’s heroes.  And while DC Comic’s games have had a lot of success in the past few years (Batman: Arkham City, DC Universe Online) never have they been placed in a situation where you simply pick your favorite heroes and villains and duke it out with your friends.  I have friends who are DC Comics die hard fans and haven’t played a fighting game since the SNES days.  While they may not be competitive at first, Injustice offers so many modes and extra content to keep them interested that by the time they are done beating the game and unlocking every possible costume and music theme that they aren’t half bad at the game and actually stand a chance playing online.

The flip side to this is that there are fans of Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter who only have exposure to DC Comics through the Christopher Nolan movies.  The deep gameplay system  is easy to learn, but mastering it will take time.  Not only that but its very rewarding and fun. This combined with the  loads of online features keep these fans coming back over and over.  Every time I play with my friends who don’t know about comics I find them asking question after question about all the little references put in the game. “Who is that standing in the back of the level?”  “Why did Green Lantern say that to Sinestro during the fight?”

This interesting dynamic keeps players from both sides engaged and actually promotes communication between the comic fan who knows nothing about playing a fighting game, and the fighting game warriors who  don’t know the difference between Shazaam and Black Adam.

Injustice shares many of the same fundamentals as other fighting classics such as Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter.  Each character has normal moves and special moves that can be combined for combos.  Each character’s special attacks can be “meter burned” to create a more powerful version of the attack or extend the combo further.  Meters used for this are earned by attacking and getting hit during a match.  If you wait, you can build up all 4 of your meters and use them all at once for your super attack.  Each character’s normal attacks, special attacks and super attacks are unique.  There are no “clone characters” here.  This leads me to the most unique feature of Injustice and what separates it from Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter.

In Injustice characters have what is called a “trait”.  A trait is a move unique to each fighter that can be done by pushing a button.  The trait system is what makes every fighter different from each other.   While some are similar in the effect they cause, how you use the trait with every character is different simply because each character needs to be played differently.  For instance, Superman’s trait makes all his attacks do more damage so using it before or in a combo is a great idea. But Wonder Woman’s trait causes her to switch form using her lasso to her sword and shield allowing you to do combine different types of moves to create long damaging combos.  Each character’s trait greatly affects how you play with them and mastering each characters unique play style is important if you want to win.  The traits also feed into the fan service that NeatherRealm provides as each one feels like it belongs to that unique character.  Each character’s moves feel like they belong and make sense for that character, like Batman using his grappling gun to fly across the screen and kick you in the face.

Another unique feature is the clash system.  When a player is being combo’d he or she can use meter they have earned to clash and break the combo.  Whats cool is the clash sequence has dialogue from both characters and the dialogue is different for every match up.  So Nightwing has some special words saved for when he fights Batman that are different then what he says when he is going up against another hero.  This is just another example of the amount detail put into making this game feel like a comic book and making the characters feel like the ones we have known and loved for so many years.

There is always a new character to learn, new costumes to unlock and even if you manage to unlock everything you can always step online and start training to best in the multiverse.  In short, if you are a fan of comics or video games it would be an injustice to miss out on this game.

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