Injustice: Gods Among Us (Ultimate Edition) – PS4
Release Date (NA): November 15th, 2013
Developer: High Voltage Software
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Nerd Rating: 7.5 out of 10
Injustice caught my attention upon its original release back in April as it’s been one of the few games I’ve seen advertisements for in a while, and more importantly, because it’s a fighting game. Fighting games have been on the decline since the late 90’s to the point where they’re difficult to spot nowadays, and although I like fighting games, I think their nearly complete exit from the market has actually been a good thing. For the past several years it would seem as though systems are “too advanced” to handle the relative simplicity of a fighting game, but if anything it sets the stage for only the best and brightest to shine through. I’m teetering somewhere between a 7.5 and an 8; I’m not sure if it really brings anything new to the table but it is a well-done and deserving title even if we have seen most of it before.
Injustice is made by the same team responsible for Mortal Kombat for the past decade or so and the influence is very obvious. Take Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe and throw in a dash of 2011’s Mortal Kombat and you’ll have a pretty clear idea of what Injustice has to offer. Sure, the characters may have different names, but Ed Boon’s fondness for the MK franchise remains. Harley Quinn is outfitted much like Mileena, Wonder Woman has a size EE chest reminiscent of Katana, Raven’s “evil” self is a spitting image of Sindel, Batman acts as our resident Scorpion with his grappling hooks, Green Arrow and Green Lantern constantly crack jokes and revel in their own arrogance a la Johnny Cage, Evil Luthor possesses all the cunning of Quan Chi while Good Luthor acts a calming, stabilizing influence in the vein of Raiden, both Cyborg and Jax are huge black guys with metal shit all over them, and on it goes. It’s hard NOT to see MK at every turn, but then again I am a 100% certifiable Mortal Kombat FREAK.
Though Boon has stated his desire to keep the two franchises separate and commented that he wanted Injustice to standout as a great fighting game outside of the MK series, most of the mechanics are lifted straight from MK 2011. Characters move the same, attack the same, and even have a bad-ass supermove that leaves the opponent with 40-50% more damage than before. Stylistically you’ll be expecting Liu Kang to fly across the screen or Shao Kahn to bring the banhammer down on your ass, but there are some changes that set it apart.
First, there’s no block button. One of the greatest innovations of MK will, I suppose, remain forever in MK only because Injustice takes the more common route of using both “back” and “down” to block when opponents are launching attacks. The interactive environments have progressed greatly with characters being able to throw objects from the background or do crazy shit like Batman launching rockets from the Batmobile. While fun and functional, such gameplay mechanics aren’t important enough to push the genre into the new generation, but they’re not exactly gimmicky enough to dismiss either. I think Injustice might be an important stepping stone for future games that aim to maximize character and environment interaction. Gore is reduced greatly with little more than blood spray. Jumping is a little clunky but probably more realistic, and players who rely on quick jump attacks to keep opponents at bay will find themselves having to develop new strategies on the ground.
There’s a pretty cool storyline going on here that might just have you more interested in the cut scenes than the actual fights, however you may be more than a little confused if you’re not up-to-date on DC’s Crisis on Infinite Earths series dealing with parallel universes and alternate realities. Despite the uber-nerdy subject matter, it manages to be a little less schlocky than the cut scenes of recent Mortal Kombat games, and not every line of dialogue is played for maximum dramatic effect. There is, quite surprisingly, a modicum of subtlety to be found in the performances. Like MK vs. DC, the creative team behind Injustice has done a decent (albeit contrived) job of explaining how humans like Batman and the Joker can withstand Superman’s heat vision. The story sees our characters taking pills made of “Kryptonian nano-tech” that “increase the tinsel strength of muscle and bone by thousands of percent.” I won’t spoil it for you, but the story also has pretty solid reasons behind not only how, but why heroes are going toe-to-toe with other heroes.
Not only are the graphics top notch, but the raw artistic talent in Injustice is astounding. Characters walking around calling each other “Wonder Woman” and “Aquaman” might sound silly as hell but they look great. Many outfits are functional and modern without the idealized details that most people remember from comics. Although at times I wish we could see characters in a bit less of a Halloween-themed appearance I can appreciate the desire to keep them visibly representative of the characters that comic book fans love and that those of us less in-tune with the comic world easily recognize. Backgrounds have been given the full treatment as well and look every bit as good as the guys on screen rather than serving as a bland backdrop.
Gameplay will be familiar to fans of fighting games. Though Injustice doesn’t necessarily open up new possibilities when it comes to the genre it is a solid title. Controls are smooth, the abilities and powers of each character are amply represented, and there’s much less martial arts and gymnastics common in other games. Instead, many characters use less technique driven moves and stick to a “brawler” style of fighting. Full use is made of character attributes and punches are the norm rather than dozens of kicks. This adds a bit of realism to the game for what it’s worth, as it’s more what the audience expects from superheroes .
Even from back in the days of the original DualShock for the PlayStation, wait scratch that, even from the days of “arcade style” joystick controllers, I’ve firmly held the belief that D-pads are instrumental if not mandatory when it come to fighting games. When it comes to matters of precision with special moves and well-timed jumping, I’ve long been of the opinion that four concrete buttons are what it takes to get the job done. Although I can’t deny the freedom that joysticks and analog sticks allow to the player, it just has never clicked with me when it comes to fighting games. Indeed as recently as Mortal Kombat (2011) Komplete Edition for the PS3 I’ve continued down the road of the D-pad. For whatever reasons, my thumb found its way down to the analog nub of the DualShock 4 and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. By the time I realized what I was doing I wasn’t even sure how long I’d been doing it. Once I realized it I did find myself inadvertently jumping, but as far as special moves and otherwise maneuvering I did as well as I have with any D-pad. Whether or not this is a testament to Injustice or the DualShock 4 I can’t be sure, but it was an affirming discovery.
Finally I want to touch on the issue of the touchpad on the PS4’s controller. This option can be turned on or off and it’s relatively minor, but Injustice at least makes an attempt to work it into gameplay. In this case, an opponent charges at the player and the player must perform a correct series of directional “flicks” on the DualShock 4’s touchpad. The movements roughly translate into the Joker throwing cards or the Green Arrow launching arrows and becoming increasingly long and complex. So far I’ve yet to “win” any of these mini-games and I end up having a brawl anyway. The functionality isn’t much but that it was at all worked into a fighting game is commendable.
Injustice provides plenty of eye-candy for the casual gamer, a slew of comic bore lore for DC fans, and a welcome entry for fighting lovers. This Ultimate Edition for the PS4 includes all downloadable content that’s been released with a promise that no new DLC will be available afterwards. Not having the original I can’t comment on any differences, though I understand 6 additional characters to be the main change. A huge part of me wishes this had been Mortal Kombat 10 instead and before I popped the disc in I asked myself why the Marvel Universe wasn’t being tackled. Fortunately I was engrossed in Injustice almost immediately, even from the beautiful stills slowly moving across the intro screen. The source material may not be my top pick for a fighting game but Injustice stands exceptionally well on its own.
It may not be a PlayStation 4 exclusive but I can’t quite imagine this title looking any better on the ol’ 7th generation heavyweights. I’m interested to see what the Wii U port adds to the mix, though for now I’ll stick with the PS4 version.
Reviewed by The Cubist
Share This Post