Injustice: Gods Among Us Review
The DC Universe has always had the notion of multiple dimensions for all our favorite Heroes and Villains. Be it a separate universe where Superman didn't land in Smallville but rather Soviet Russia (Red Son) or Batman's Origin is slightly eschewed or even possibly the one Universe that Aquaman is important and interesting.
Injustice: Gods Among us toys with that theory and plugs heroes from one universe into another in order to change the results of one horrific event that all began with Joker and Superman. For all of the DC fans reading, you might see parallels from the movie "Crisis on Infinite Earths" in a lot of what goes on this campaign.
The concept is simple, as it is in every fighting game: your favorite characters are pitted against each other in what looks like a battle to the death (granted it's always just a knock. You live for now Aquaman, just wait until Blackest Night). The fights are all dictated by time as well as the basic health bars, pummel your opponent till his health is gone or just have more health than him/her for the time given. Nothing new about that what soever, so if you have played any fighting games before then you're a natural.
Each character has their own set of combos as well as a particular special finisher move. These moves range from being ran over by the Batmobile after Batman sticks you with a explosive bat-a-rang to The Flash circling the globe to deliver a devastatingly powerful jaw jacking followed by some follow up blows. They are only accessible after doing either of the following: beating your opponent a certain amount of time or, being beaten up severely by them. Sadly the easiest way to get it is to have the crap beaten out of you, as infuriating as it is to be dominated by a computer , the damage these Super moves delivers is worth a huge chunk of health. It works as a semi valid strategy, but gets rather tedious and can be a pain in the spandex when the second health bar doesn't get affected because of the programming, leaving you to deal with the remaining 0% of bar one. Yes it looks completely drained but if any damage is done past that point, it is null and void.
Along with these super moves each character gets a unique secondary as well. These can be accessed by using the Circle button and include anything from Wonder Woman switching from Lasso to Sword to Cyborg's healing ability. These secondaries bring a sense of skill to the linear battles (well kind of). Some moves don't act fast enough, and become hinderences to the main focus of the melee. These secondaries have cooldowns, except the weapon swaps, so it's recommended to use them sparingly and wisely. With a roster of 29 (that's including the DLC characters) you have plenty of options to test out who works best with you.
The campaign, which I touched upon lightly before, has an interesting story, pulling characters from what I assume is Universe Prime to one of the many alternates. Playing 12 chapters in total, each a different character, we get a broad idea of what is going on in both universes. We see cut scenes that show us what happens between the action, such as how those not pulled to the alt universe are handling the situation of the missing members of the JLA. Not to give anything away to the story I'll just summarize; in short this story feels like a trip I can only describe as "what would happen to a time traveler got stuck in an alternate time line"
Sure it seems like a stretch but it is more to the point than I could describe. The pulled heroes affect the new universe and have to deal with the changes with no real affect to the original universe. It's a brilliant idea and certainly I can respect it but the story could have been told so much better, maybe a better structure to the scenes of more in depth exploration to the trials the Prime Heroes had in the new universe, which was vaguely touched upon but never really fleshed out. Add to that the short 4 hour story time, it makes it rather disappointing.
As is the norm with any fighting game, AI is important, so it's safe to say I did my best to run the compute through its paces. Unfortunately the testing didn't have to take long for me to find faults. In most regards on a normal run, the computer tends to react like a basic player, intermediate but still skilled. What I mean by this is the computer has the idea to use environments to hurt you, does basic hitting and blocking, but if pressed ( and sometimes not) they will push you in the corner and spam the punch over and over again till you force yourself out of there. What's worse is the difficulty will ramp up at random intervals, either becoming a hardened veteran making it near impossible to win or becoming so weak that its no challenge at all. To comment on the latter, I had a fight where Catwoman just sat crouched for so long until I basically beat her into submission, I think I took all of two hits that fight. Not a great example of well functioning AI at all in this game.
Injustice looks beautiful in the costume designs and darker/grittier environments.
Graphics and sound were well done, graphics were gorgeous in some lights while in others it was left lackluster and weak, while the musical score and game sounds were constantly a breath of fresh air. Graphically, Injustice looks beautiful in the costume designs and darker/grittier environments. The fights, the cinematics, while not as well done as their counterparts were, still impressed to a point. The fighters copious amounts of alternate costumes were so well worked they stole the show and made all the fighters pop on the battlefield.
One thing I gushed over was just the design and metallic styling of Flash's suit, it stole the show for me in the end. Cinematics left a lot to be desired, sure some things looked brilliant in action scenes but when Superman used his heat vision, it ruined it. The styling looked like something from an old 80's game graphic and just made me laugh more than enjoy what was on the screen. I liked the cinematics for the most part, while decently stylized it became apparent that the battles looked better than the cut scenes. Blocky movements, cheesy illustrations of powers ( heat vision), and generic backgrounds, just made me realized the cincematics needed work.
While the environments in battle looks great on the surface, clean and polished, they were sadly empty in terms of anything not in the foreground. It was nice fighting in the dark back alley as Joker but when I noticed how little I saw of world there I was let down. Sure other levels picked it up, Church, Fortress of Solitude, JLA Hall outside and Watchtower had a few things in the background to distract but it felt like it was an add on just for background filler. The voice actors were well fit (while a non Mark Hamil was weird), they suit each character well, sounding heroic while at the same time sounding human on a good level. The voices weren't cheesy in the slightest and neither was the musical score, which was deep and emotional when it needed to be and kept he battles feeling fast paced and fierce.
The game has more outside the campaign, such as multiplayer or online battles, as well as challenges in a special fight mode. I didn't do too much outside of the campaign and some fights with a partner but I did notice they have a level system to your profile that gives you points to spend on bonuses such as concept art, new outfits, and music unlocked. The level system ran through the campaign so you should have been at level 33 by the end which gives you plenty of points to spend on cool extras, if you're not already tired of playing after the campaign.
Now here's a quick recap:
- Story had potential but was bland at best
- AI has split personalities (too difficult to brain dead) and was very buggy
- Combat was basic and unique special moves proved entertaining for a little bit
- Graphics and sound steal the show but still lacked some depth in graphics that was unforgivable (heat vision uck!)
- Replay able easily with extra modes and online play (but not entertaining enough for me to come back)
Story - 4
Replay ability - 7
Toys - 5
Overall - 4
I'm not much for fighting games and Injustice didn't overly impress me during my play time. It makes me think that fighting games just get away in the gaming universe by repeating the same formula. Did I enjoy the game? Sure, but will I go back and buy it or recommend it? Not a chance, unless you like fighting games, then I suggest at least trying it. Now if you could kill off Aquaman or Daimen Wayne version of Nightwing, then we'll talk.