NetherRealm Studio’s Injustice: Gods Among Us was an unexpected announcement when it hit back in 2012. Despite the previous success of Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, few could have predicted a game dedicated to DC characters. That game did arrive in 2013 however, and with it birthed a brand new series.

Coming from the same stable as the hugely popular Mortal Kombat reboot, and one of the leading beat-‘em-up franchises’ creators, a lot was expected of Injustice: Gods Among Us. It was the first console release to offer a dark view of the DC Universe ensemble for a long time. An adult videogame for a mature audience. But more than this it was the chance for Netherrealm Studios to break out. To show that their particular brand of beat-‘em-up gameplay can be more meaningful than a single franchise.

Injustice: Gods Among Us screenshot

Injustice: Gods Among Us – More than Mere Mortals

Injustice: Gods Among Us begins by offering new players the opportunity to play through a tutorial. Get the fundamentals dealt with first-and-foremost. Movement, basic attacks and blocking. Injustice: Gods Among Us borrows more than just a development environment from the Mortal Kombat series. This is basically Mortal Kombat Vs. DC Universe without the Mortal Kombat bit. Yet it is a much darker affair than that may suggest. DC Universe fighters still don’t have death-dealing finishing moves, but in all else Injustice: Gods Among Us was executed exactly as had been anticipated.

Thankfully that means Mortal Kombat (2011)’s most celebrated innovation returns in the form of Injustice: Gods Among Us’ Story Mode. Leading the player through a unique and well written story, Injustice: Gods Among Us throws a selection of different characters at the player one-by-one. Either fighting as them or against. This does require that the player have at least a little knowledge of the DC Universe, rather than being an open invitation like the many of the Batman: Arkham titles. Still, most will be able to quickly catch-up with the most modern changes in character and situation.

Injustice: Gods Among Us screenshot

DCEU – Gaming Came Before Movies

Bringing such a varied and able collection of characters together in a single videogame has required some liberal interpretation, as one might expect. But on the whole most characters are very well represented. The Bruce Willis lookalike Lex Luthor is perhaps one of the easiest character to get to grips with simply due to his heavy attacks and generous combo windows. Green Lantern is arguably the Johnny Cage of the bunch. Aquaman is swift and with range. Batman however, acting as both the training character and first to play in Story Mode, feels awkwardly disjointed at first.

Injustice: Gods Among Us screenshot

Injustice Gods in the Game

The fighting system on the whole is based around aggressive strategies. Players will attempt to build a meter that controls the most effective abilities, such as Injustice: Gods Among Us’ take on EX moves. There’s also supermoves, which are the equivalent of Mortal Kombat (2011)’s X-Ray moves. Injustice: Gods Among Us forces players to make use of this meter through significant damage for enhanced moves and supermoves, positively encouraging attacking gameplay.

In addition to the aforementioned Story mode, we have the S.T.A.R. Lab, which offers a long line of unique challenges. There’s also Battle Mode, which is the classic arcade ladder with 10 increasingly difficult opponents in a structured order. This mode is given a twist however, with a variety of optional rules available – from poisoned players that automatically lose health as time continues to speed runs – to compliment the traditional template. This is further made interesting by the fact that half-a-dozen modifiers are available at first but more than triple that amount appear as unknown quantities; an obvious but effective way to manage unlocks and progression that compels the player to see what will become available. Given the fact that all characters are available from the start, this is a shrewdly implemented alternative.

Injustice: Gods Among Us screenshot

Injustice Among Friends

Multiplayer gameplay is available both locally and online. A a noteworthy suite of gameplay modes compliment the latter. Ranked and Player matches are obviously inclusions. However, there’s also the addition of competitive modes that see players fight in lobbies is most certainly welcome. The connectivity of the is very reliable, with no lag-hindered matches experienced in well over two-dozen matches Chit Hot played for this look back. The trouble is, of course, finding a match 10 years after release.

Injustice: Gods Among Us is well presented from a technical standpoint. Both the aural and visual quality matching the standard set by the online play. The package as a whole is commendable, but falling shy of perfect. All of the many characters resemble some of their most modern interpretations, and they do so very well. While not all of the voices chosen to represent them will be to every fan’s taste, it’s hard to deny the quality of their interpretation.

For a videogame given the hard task of pleasing fans to two very disparate franchises and proving that a design ethos is more than just a one-off success story, Injustice: Gods Among Us does perform well. On the whole it’s an enjoyable experience, but there’s no denying that it is the weaker sibling. Forever destined to live in Mortal Kombat’s shadow. It doesn’t falter as Street Fighter X Tekken did for Street Fighter IV’s near-immaculate run, but nor does it set an example that others will follow. Only Injustice 2 has taken up the mantle so far. And that was certainly a mixed bag.

Categories: Games