There is a rich tradition in video games for super heroes to star in fighting games. The Marvel vs. Capcom series, the X-Men: Mutant Academy series, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters, etc, but now we have the first fighting game that exclusively pulls from all corners of an entire comic book universe. Injustice: Gods Among Us is the latest offering from the creators of Mortal Kombat, NetherRealm Studios, and with it they've crafted a unique playing experience that is influenced by their previous work but also stands on its own.
I was apprehensive about playing this game due to being very selective about what fighting games I enjoy. I've never been a combo master like some because it's a play style that I've never enjoyed, but NetherRealm has made a very user-friendly play style here. Combos are simple and easy to achieve and memorize, especially when compared to other fighting games. Even if you subscribe to the button-mash approach, you'll probably end up doing something right, which some might see as a flaw in the mechanics but it makes the game more enjoyable for people like me. NetherRealm also went out of the way to make each character unique. Every character features a super move that can be used in battle that is easy to pull off and will make fans drool. Another aspect of the controls that I thoroughly enjoy is the interactivity in the environments. Each level is highly destructible with various objects that can be picked up, detonated, or used as targets to kick your opponent into. Seeing Superman throw the missile at Lex Luthor will never get old.
The single player experience offers several different modes for your enjoyment ,including Story, Battle, and the S.T.A.R. Labs missions. Injustice's story is surprisingly interesting. It's not the epitome of superhero storytelling that many fans have made the prequel comics out to be, but for what it is it's enjoyable. What keeps the story engaging is that it's framed in a way that doesn't make it feel very repetitive. You can play for a few hours and never get tired of it because the character you play as changes as the story progresses. Environments and enemies are also frequently changing and seldom feels shoehorned in. Some aspects of the story and characters will cause much groaning and forehead slapping, but overall, and as far as fighting game storylines go, it works.
While the Story mode offers little replay value, Injustice does have much more single player action. Gamers can compete in the Battle section, which pits them against a select group of characters and typically puts the player at a disadvantage. This has the feel of old-school fighting game single player modes due to no narrative linking the fights together, but is still a great deal of fun. The most frustrating thing in Injustice are the S.T.A.R. Labs missions. Designed as a series of mini-games, they offer up self-contained single player stories with gameplay that is sometimes only a fraction of the game's full potential. Some of these are fun, really fun, and some of them are so tedious and irritating that you will consider throwing the game out your window and cursing its existence. Did I mention they were frustrating?
Ever since its announcement, Injustice: Gods Among Us has had a lot of potential and it delivers on it. It offers a unique story that works really well in the world it has established and doesn't feel overly exploitative.The game's play style and mechanics are a lot of fun, easy to understand, and brings some new challenges to the realm of fighting games. DC fans will also be really pleased with the characters in the game because NetherRealm did their homework.
Rating: 8 / 10
Injustice: Gods Among Us is available now for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii U.