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Injustice: Gods Among Us

Injustice: Gods Among Us
Developer: NetherRealm Studios
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Platforms: PS3, XBox360, PC
Release Date: April 16th, 2013

Synopsis: What if our greatest heroes became our greatest threat? From the indomitable DC Comics and the makers of the definitive fighting game franchise Mortal Kombat comes Injustice: Gods Among Us, a bold fighting game featuring a large cast of favorite DC Comics icons. Set in a world where the lines between good and evil are blurred, players will experience heroes and villains engaging in epic battles on a massive scale. A deep, original story compliments the fighting action that pits many of the great heroes and villains from the DC universe against each other -- Batman, Harley Quinn, Solomon Grundy, Superman, The Flash, Wonder Woman and many others lose their allegiances and fight for Injustice!

Scroll past the review for more images and a selection of trailers!

Injustice: Gods Among Us Review
By James Harvey

Injustice: Gods Among Us wasn't looking too sharp for me based on the early trailers and character designs. The costumes for our favorite DC Comics characters looked overly complicated and excessive (and, to be honest, most still are) and the story seemed like a comically over-the-top and misguided take on the "grimdark" era of comics (which DC is still firmly trapped in for the most part). Heroes duking it out, everyone hating each other, betrayals, murder, and all, ultimately, uninspired. It was a relief when, despite my preconceived notions still somewhat hitting the mark, it turned out there was plenty to enjoy about Injustice: Gods Among Us, the new fighting game from Netherrealm and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment.

To get it out of the way, yes - the costume designs are not the best. I get what the designers were going for but, wow, the majority just don't work. They look clunky, complicated, uncomfortable and pretty ugly. While character designs for the DC characters in Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe were quite respectful to their comic book counterparts, here it kinda goes the other way. Simplified designs are given extra lines, padding, colors, and bizarre shape modifications. Just look at Flash's suit, which looks entirely unpractical for a speedster. Or Batman's costume, which looks like it's actually eating him. Look at that mask - it's enveloping his face!

To match the bad costumes, Story Mode's tale sometimes amps up the tragedy to the point of near parody. There's plenty of silly bits in the plot, such as those Kryptonian nanotechnology pills which amp up the powers of even the most human of heroes, as well as bizarrely out of place one-liners and heroes that act - even for the game's story - act wildly out of character. But somehow, it works. It honestly shouldn't work, and given how stupid the story can get, I'm shocked that it does. And, more importantly, it ends up being fun! It is quite a ride, though, something akin to a major comic book company crossover. The story - to boil down what you likely already know - follows a bunch of heroes who go rogue after a terrible event, leading to another group of to hunt and take them down. As you can expect, fisticuffs aplenty occur. There are some slick story twists here and there that might keep even the hardest of hardcore DC Comics fans pleased.

Buried under the awkward costumes and extremely melodramatic story is a fun as heck fighting game. First, the fighting mechanics are easy and quick to pick up. The animation and moves all look great, and there seems to be a pretty good balance in the roster. Granted, a couple characters with a reach advantage can make your battle a living hell, but overall it's planned out rather well. The environmental attacks add a nice twist to the proceedings, and can sometimes dramatically change the outcome of a fight. They're quick to memorize and easy to adapt to your advantage if you're quick enough, or they can be used against you quite extensively - sometimes to an annoying degree.

It's worth noting the cool and overly elaborate stage transitions. Sometimes it can be tough to trigger these - your timing has to be pretty precise, but the payoff is worth it. There's a couple where even the background characters (some of them watch, some are busy with their own tussles) get involved and inflict a little damage. And boy, you get to inflict a lot of damage. Some of these moves and battles sound absolutely painful, even gut-wrenching at times. It's not too bad, but the game definitely earns that "T" rating. Oddly enough, one of the moves I winced at the most was Bane's back-breaking move, probably because of its ties to the Knightfall comic story, but still ... ouch. It's not even the deadliest one, either. It just brings me back to the landmark moment in Batman's history.

And, for just simply beating down other heroes and villains, the game provides a nice array of options. There's the standard multi-player route, be it local or online, where you're set-up in matches and battle to the (near) death. It's easy to lose hours in that mode. Even when fighting against players far better than myself, I still found myself wrapped up in wanting to win just one match (and did on occasion, as Batman). I highly recommend checking out the tutorial and practice options, which helped me hone some of my more elaborate tricks which, thankfully, were easy to pick out and perform after a few test runs. Battle Mode is also incredibly addictive, and the S.T.A.R. Labs mini-games can also be both pretty fun and helpful in nailing down certain combos.

The mode that many DC Comics fan will latch onto is the Story Mode, which can usually be completed in probaly four to five hours. On top of that, there's a large amount of bonus content to unlock, like artwork, music, variant costumes, and so on. There are challenges players can undergo to get some bonus content, and downloading the iOS or Android Injustice: Gods Among Us app will also result in some other goodies for the main console version. It's a good way to keep players coming back and could help keep the game fresh for some time to come. I will admit, there are a few costumes that I do want to unlock, and I will play as much as I have to to get them. Personally, some new Story Mode content down the road would be particularly interesting; maybe a epilogue or a bridge to the next inevitable installment in what sounds like a new franchise.

Just a couple small points before wrapping this up and getting back to the game. First, the video game score for Injustice: Gods Among Us is available from WaterTower Music as both a digital and physical album and I highly recommend giving it a listen. The score work is excellent and makes for an engaging listen from start to finish. I also give a thumbs up for the inclusion of the Superman: Unbound trailer on this title; DC Entertainment needs to do more cross-promotional stuff like this. But: no comic book trailers? Warner Bros. Interactive should have at least included the "The New 52" and "DC App" trailers to draw some attention to the material this game is based on.

Injustice: Gods Among Us is unquestionably the best superhero fighting game to date, which sadly might not be saying much given the lack of other titles out there, but it does deserve some attention. Once you get past the Story Mode, there is plenty to keep fans busy for weeks, maybe months. The different modes and challenges provided unlock lots of great prizes, and the online battles will likely keep many players itching for a rematch. If you're a novice, the game is easy to pick up and hard to put down. For grizzled fighting veterans, the controls do allow for some in-depth play, enough that anyone should be able to get their money's worth out of this title.

The game also especially deserves kudos for its great voice cast, which includes a ridiculous amount of DC Comics animation veterans. Kevin Conroy, Susan Eisenberg, George Newbern and countless more are get behind the mic and do a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to making us care about what our heroes are going through. It's a great touch that adds an extra layer of authenticity to the game.

Injustice: Gods Among Us is ultimately an enjoyable experience, definitely, and one game that pays respectful (if sometimes misguided) homage to the DC Comics lore. Yes, the vast majority of the costumes are pretty atrocious and the story is sometimes incredibly over-the-top in a comically bad way, but it's so hypnotically watchable and hard to put down. Be it Story Mode or a standard online battle, there's a wealth of content to get invested in. In all honesty, I imagine there are some things I may have missed when reviewing this title, and I can't wait to go back to see what I can find. While far from perfect, Injustice: Gods Among Us nevertheless remains a commendable start to what could be a great new franchise, and I really can't wait to take another swing at Superman! Recommended!

The Playstation 3 edition of this game was provided by the studio for reviewing purposes.

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