Gamers holding out for a hero finally have their day in Injustice: Gods Among Us. The brawler features 24 heroes and villains, a complex, multi-perspective story mode and of course – ludicrous, cataclysmic destruction.While the core combat is gold, rewarding reflexes and timing over button mashing, the production values of the cut-scenes seem sparse and the extra-modes are a lesson in tedium but overall, Injustice delivers.
Injustice: Gods Among Us is a fan-service brawler in the vein of Marvel Vs. Capcom or Super Smash Bros, wherein franchise leads come together to wail on each other. The key to a successful fan-service-brawler is the cast. Two months after the game’s release the Facebook page is still ablaze with calls for the inclusion of X hero, Y villain and Z hero’s evil twin from the limited edition 9-copy-only release. While I’d like to see more female characters (always the case with me) all the greats are here – Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, a few of the Titans (Starfire’s absence is particularly noticeable) and of course the Joker.
The Joker is a key antagonist in the story-mode, though the ultimate baddy is actually Supes. Driven mad after Joker detonates a nuke in Metropolis that kills millions, Superman resolved to end crime by executing both heroes and villains who stood in his way. The story follows Batman’s resistance group known as the Insurgency, with the 12 chapters highlighting different member, before ultimately leading to a confrontation with Krypton’s last son himself. While the story serves well enough, cutscenes are a disappointment. Frankly, they look like a PS2 game and the OST doesn’t produce a single memorable track.
But the heart of Injustice:Gods Among Us – the combat – beats strong. Unlike the hyper-surrealism of Marvel Vs. Capcom or Super Smash Bros., Injustice goes for simpler, more realistic (relatively speaking) fight sequences with a few moments of flourish. The Super Moves (Flash, Doomsday and Aquaman’s in particular) are a spectacle and level-transitions, which occur when knocking an opponent from the ring, are enjoyably absurd. Each combatant also “feels” different, with a different rhythm required to unleash combos. So while Joker requires quick-inputs and a mix of high and low attacks, Deathstroke rewards counters and interruptions and Grundy and Bane chain throws .
Each fighter’s moveset also serves as a faithful characterization. Harley Quinn mixes Pep Rally tactics and mid-range guns, Cyborg mixes Mega Man style energy blasts with boxing-style punches and Catwoman gets up-close and intimate with her claws and tail-whip. I found committing the combos to muscle memory to be somewhat tiring, but a well-placed combo dazzles on the screen. The sound effects, visible damage and screams of pain add great impact to each battle.
If I could ask Gods Among Us for anything it’d be more of what it already delivers. More characters to play during story mode, more super moves, more level transitions – just more. And based on the DLC releases – more is coming/ For a price. But, as far as the base game is concerned, as a casual fan of the DC Universe, I’m satisfied. Not impressed, but satisfied.