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Injustice: Gods Among Us Review - Fights In Tights

Earnest "Nex" Cavalli | 19 Apr 2013 21:00
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Combat in Injustice will feel instantly familiar to those who played Mortal Kombat, though it's more accurate to describe the game as a mashup between Eastern and Western fighting game design sensibilities. Generally speaking, special moves are accomplished with Mortal Kombat-style "back-forward-back+attack" maneuvers, but realizing how popular Capcom-style "quarter-circle-forward+attack" moves are, Injustice's specials can all be accomplished using Capcom notations as well - even if you don't set the game's options menu to display attacks using Capcom's terms. It's unexpected, but somehow this mashup of disparate styles makes Injustice feel better, and more fluid than any prior Mortal Kombat games, which have always been a bit stiff in comparison to their Japanese counterparts.

Beyond that, the fighting system is relatively simple. Injustice gives you three attack buttons and a character-specific trait button. Almost any attack can link into any other attack, giving combat an impressively smooth feeling, but without straying into Dead or Alive territory, where it's as easy to win by button mashing as it is by learning the intricacies of the game's combat system. With this established, NetherRealm threw in a number of bombastic additions. Characters can interact with the stages they fight in: A good example being the Batcave, where one side of the arena features a button that will launch missiles from the Batmobile. Another stage allows you to punch your opponent through the halls of Arkham Asylum, watching with visceral glee as the ward's supervillain inhabitants take turns pummeling your foe.

The two most explosive components of the combat system are its super attacks and clash attacks. The former is pretty self-explanatory: Each fighter has a single, major attack which can be activated by fully charging their super meter. Once complete, you press both shoulder buttons simultaneously and, assuming you connect, your opponent may be punched into space, crushed by a comet or have his or her spine broken by Bane. Clashes, however, are a bit different. Once activated, players are asked to wager a certain amount of their super meter. Assuming they wager more than their opponent, they win the clash, earning rewards like instant healing. Impressively, neither of these elements unbalances the game to any great degree, which is a testament to the work NetherRealm has put into Injustice.

Speaking of balance, while Injustice lacks the hyper-nuanced intricacies and complex depth of Virtua Fighter, it does seem to be as balanced, if not more balanced, than the recent Mortal Kombat. The hardcore tournament set will be the final arbiter of how successful Injustice is in the competitive fighting game world (and this verdict will take at least a few weeks to pan out), but initial impressions are promising.

The final component of Injustice lies in its online multiplayer modes, and in that regard, the game is a success. By lifting the best ideas from every fighting game released so far in this console generation, NetherRealm was able to create a title that stands toe to toe with all of its competitors, at least as far as its core feature set is concerned. Matches rarely feature appreciable lag, and in the rare moments in which you might notice network hiccups, they're generally resolved immediately.

Now, let's get back to that important question from the beginning of the review: Who wins in a fight between Superman and Batman? Injustice really does have an answer for this question, but honestly, it would be a shame to spoil the big dumb plot twist at the end of the game. Here's a hint though: It's neither of them, and yet through the wonders of comic book storytelling, it's also both of them. If your brain shrieked and retreated from that logic bomb you'll be appalled by Injustice's plot, but if it seems like the sort of quirky, crazy-high concept idea that has made comic books such an appealing medium, then you'll totally dig Injustice: Gods Among Us.

Bottom Line: Injustice: Gods Among Us is big dumb fun, and anyone who digs superheroes or virtual fisticuffs will find dozens of ways to enjoy NetherRealm's latest fighter.

Recommendation: Whether you're a comic book fan or a fighting game fan, there's a ton of reasons to love Injustice: Gods Among Us.

This review is based on the Xbox 360 version of the game.

Game: Injustice: Gods Among Us
Genre: Fighter
Developer: NetherRealm Studios
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive
Platform(s): PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U
Available from: Amazon(US), GameStop(US), Amazon(UK), Play.com(UK)

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