Injustice: Gods Among Us could have done less and still been a winner. Take the awesome Mortal Kombat engine, add DC Comics dudes in it and watch the rave reviews and dollars roll in. Instead, NetherRealm went above and beyond to make Injustice play like a real clash between superheroes. The end result is an enjoyable fighter that feels true to the source material.
Using Mortal Kombat as a base, Injustice takes cues from many other fighters to liven up the formula. For instance, this fighter contains three main attack buttons and one Trait button a la Blazblue. With it, you can activate special abilities or moves tied to that character. This allows Wonder Woman to switch between her sword and whip, Batman to call homing projectiles to float around him until they’re unleashed, or Deathstroke to fire unblockable bullets. Some of these traits are more interesting than others, though they all add an extra layer of depth to each character.
Blocking is another aspect of the game that departs from its spiritual predecessor. Instead of a block button, defending yourself from attacks is handled through Street Fighter-style directional inputs. I personally don’t miss it, since I like how it frees players up from an extra button input and opens the door for cross-ups.
The most dramatic departure is the importance of environmental hazards. Cars can be blown up, bombs can be thrown, and motorcycles can be driven to run opponents over. They really make a tangible difference in how battles are fought, as they can quickly give someone the positional advantage or help someone land a fatal blow. Many of these environmental attacks are unblockable, though most (if not all) of these attacks are avoidable. Learning every stage and making best use of its weapons will become a very cool part of the bigger metagame. However, if you want to turn these off, you can.
Taken in as a whole, the combat engine in Injustice feels unique while capturing the essence of two DC heroes and villains engaged in battle. I personally feel that its mechanics lend themselves more towards the hardcore crowd, though its appeal is wide enough for casual players to have fun on their own terms. Generally, I hate spending time in training mode, but because of how enjoyable I find the combo system, I’ve spent a lot of time with my Batman just figuring things out for the fun of it.
Using those combos online can be a hit-and-miss endeavour. Under ideal circumstances, my matches ran without a hitch. However, anything less than that and input lag becomes a real problem. I wish the netcode would prioritize input timing over animation frames or overall speed of the game instead. As it stands, it generally works more than it doesn’t. As far as modes go, it has the usual ranked match, player match and leaderboards. King of the Hill from MK returns here. These all work fine, though a lack of a replay channel is a real bummer.
As a fighting game enthusiast, multiplayer is the top draw for me. However, like Mortal Kombat before it, this comes packed with a ton of single player combat. There’s an elaborate story mode that closely follows the format of its spiritual predecessor, which I had really high hopes for. The production values for it are top-notch, though I found the actual plot to be a bit dull. This time around, there are also mini games to add a bit of extra interactivity to the story beats, though they don’t add anything meaningful to the experience. This also features its own version of MK‘s Challenge Tower, as a well as a neat take on arcade mode that gives you a lot of reason to come back.
After years of watching Marvel run laps around them on the fighting game front, DC finally has a quality title of its own. Injustice: Gods Among Us is a fresh take on the genre that should please fans of DC Comics and fans of fighters. I wish the netcode was a bit tighter and that a few modes that are standard issue in other fighters found their way here, such as a trial mode and replay channel, though the current package is still well worth your time and money.