Published on July 4th, 2013 | by octaneblue7
Review: Injustice: Gods Among Us
Developer(s): NetherRealm Studios
Publisher(s): Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
System(s): Wii U, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Release Date: April 16, 2013
“What if our greatest heroes became our greatest threat?”
That is what occurs in the alternate universe of Injustice: Gods Among Us, a fighting game by NetherRealm Studios, the team behind the Mortal Kombat franchise, based on characters from DC Comics. Taking a cue from the developer’s well-received Mortal Kombat reboot, Injustice features an engaging story mode, online multiplayer, extra challenges, and plenty of unlockables. Simply put, if you’re into fighting games and/or the DC Universe, you’ll definitely want to check this one out.
While some of the content in this review covers all versions of the game, the Wii U version of Injustice is the main focus here. As you’ll read, the Wii U version retains much of the content found in the other versions, and has some exclusive features of its own, but lacks or omits others.
The game’s fighting system is similar to 2011’s Mortal Kombat. But while it shares similarities with that title, Injustice isn’t simply Mortal Kombat with DC Comics characters slapped onto it — there’s several differences that give Injustice its own identity. Matches are different in that players have two health bars during one round. So when one health bar is depleted, the fight has just a brief pause before the action can pick up again. The controls are a bit different than Mortal Kombat in that there’s three attack buttons in Injustice, each varying in strength, rather than the light and heavy punches and kicks of the former, as well as the lack of a block button; in Injustice you just hold back, like in the Street Fighter games. There’s also a “character trait” button that performs different actions that varies between characters. For example, Batman’s trait summons a small group of mechanical bats that can be shot at opponents with each button press, making it ideal for extending combos. Green Lantern summons a green aura that powers up his attacks a bit.
The environment plays a part in fights as well. With the press of a button, you can knock opponents into the background, bouncing them back, and leaving them open for a quick combo. You can also grab parts of the stages, like mechanisms, cars, etc., and throw them at your opponents for a nice chunk of damage. And characters have the ability to knock opponents off the stage, resulting in the fight taking place in a different part of it or on a different stage altogether. Some of the segues between stages or parts of stages are so absurd that you can’t help but laugh out loud.
The graphics of Injustice are pretty good. The character models move fluidly and are very detailed. The stages are large but certain ones look rather underwhelming compared to others. The game’s presentation is good too, making the menus appear as if they were displayed on a computer. The soundtrack of Injustice is primarily comprised of big, epic tracks that are fitting and would probably fit in with a movie or TV show. And speaking of TV shows, the voice actors of Injustice are mostly those who have voiced their respective characters in past DC Comics animated shows and video games, which includes, but is certainly not limited to George Newbern as Superman (Justice League), Kevin Conroy as Batman (Batman: The Animated Series, Justice League), Susan Eisenberg as Wonder Woman (Justice League), Khary Payton as Cyborg (Teen Titans), Phil LaMarr as Aquaman (Young Justice), and Tara Strong as Harley Quinn & Raven (Batman: Arkham City & Teen Titans).
In 2011’s Mortal Kombat, one of the key features of the game is its deep, cinematic Story Mode. The storytelling is carried over to Injustice, which involves a thoroughly engaging and entertaining plot that primarily involves the alternate universe’s Superman, and his established Regime, taking on Batman and his Insurgency, and traveling between the universes. This all may sound a bit confusing, but all is explained, and quite well, via cutscenes throughout the Story Mode. Like the Story Mode of Mortal Kombat, it almost feels like an animated feature, but there’s enough fighting sections in it so that’s it’s still a game, rather than an interactive movie.
The story is divided into a dozen chapters, with the character that the player controls switching between them. The story is intertwined, and the character focus seamlessly shifts between chapters. At the beginning of certain chapters, some quick time events occur, and these sections will probably be hit-or-miss with some players. These sections involve a sequence of button presses, and how well you perform during these can affect the fights. For instance, there’s a section at the beginning that has Batman throwing Batarangs at Lex Luthor. If you manage to throw all of them at him successfully, the fight will begin with Lex Luthor having a reduced amount of health. But if you get hit, Batman will start out with the reduced health instead. On one hand, these can be rewarding and give players the advantage going into the fights, but on the other hand, they sometimes feel out of place. Again, some players may enjoy these sections, but others won’t.
Besides the Story Mode, there are several other single player modes as well. The Battle mode is similar to a standard arcade mode, where you fight a series of opponents, eventually facing the Regime Superman at the end. There are different Battle types, ranging from randomized opponents, to heroes only, villains only, and also certain match features, including poisoned matches where your health constantly drains. You’ll start out with 5 Battle types, but you can unlock several more. You’ll gain XP during these matches, which is accumulated to each individual character. These build up to bonuses including unlockables such as new costumes.
There’s also S.T.A.R. Labs missions, featuring almost 250 different missions starring characters from the game. Each mission involves accomplishing certain objectives, and, like in the Battle mode, some of these missions have special conditions. There’s also a Single match mode, where you can choose a character and fight a computer opponent in a single fight, and a training mode. For multiplayer, you have local and online modes. Local multiplayer supports the Wii U Pro Controller, Wii Classic Controller Pro, and other options including fight sticks that work with the Wii. The online multiplayer includes a few different modes in which you can play online. And this is where some differences come into play between the Wii U version and the PS3/360 versions.
As of this post, the Wii U version supports ranked and player matches against random opponents, just like the other versions, but lacks the ability to set up private rooms in which you can play with friends. This is an odd omission, as other games on the Wii U have the ability to do this. Another feature missing from the Wii U version is connectivity to Injustice: Gods Among Us for iOS. The iOS and PS3/360 versions have the ability to unlock costumes for characters between versions. Why this was removed for the Wii U is also unknown, but it may have to do with the fact that Nintendo competes with Apple on the handheld front. Because the Wii U does not support a Achivement/Trophy-like system, this is also absent. DLC for Injustice was completely absent from the Wii U version, but as of July 2, 2013, all currently-released DLC is now available to purchase.
Nevertheless, while these omissions may be unfortunate, the Wii U version does include exclusive features. First off, the GamePad usage for the game is simple but very handy. The GamePad can be set to either mirror the action that’s going on-screen, enabling the Off-TV Play feature, or you can set the GamePad to display your character’s special moves. The benefit of Off-TV Play speaks for itself, but the moveset display feature is useful and really beats out having to pause the game and look up character movesets. And like nearly all Wii U games, Injustice has its own dedicated Miiverse Community for conversing with fellow players, sharing screenshots, drawings, and so forth.
Injustice: Gods Among Us is fun and engaging, and it’s packed with so much content, so its replay value is extremely high. Injustice sits among the top-tier of DC Comics-related games alongside the two Batman: Arkham games. Fans of fighting games and/or DC Comics should definitely check this one out.
However, other than features such as Off-TV Play and Miiverse support, the Wii U version lacks the features of the other versions of the game. In this case, unless you only own a Wii U, it’s recommended to pick up Injustice on another system.
+ Engaging Story Mode
+ Extensive character roster & huge replay value
+ Fantastic voice work and great soundtrack
– Wii U version lacks content & modes
– Wii U version does not support friend matches
– QTEs during Story Mode are shoehorned in
Final score: 4.5 out of 5