Injustice: Gods Among Us
Rating: T for Teen
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Developer: NetherRealm Studios
Consoles: Available now for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Wii U
Description: In a parallel Earth, the heroes of the world have become its rulers and enforcers. In defiance of Earth’s Regime, the Insurgency finds a way to bring the heroes of our Earth to theirs to help end the tyranny started by its leader – Superman.
DC Comics, Warner Bros. Interactive, and NetherRealm Studios learned from their past outing with Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe and took everything good from that game, mixed it in with the good from the Mortal Kombat 2011 reboot, and added in a dose of Elseworlds/Multiverse style storytelling to create one of the best fighting games of the past few years. Injustice: Gods Among Us is a simple delight to play. Easily mastered controls, an AI that doesn’t cheat or become overly impossible to beat, and an amazingly detailed story that makes sense of everything in the game, Injustice is the fighting game for DC that can finally rival the Vs. series Marvel has enjoyed for years. In fact, I would actually put Injustice: Gods Among Us on par with Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 and Mortal Kombat. It really is that damn good a game.
To start, and for me this was the biggest draw of the game, let’s look at the story for Injustice. On a parallel Earth, the Joker manipulates Superman into thinking that Lois Lane is Doomsday causing Superman to murder Lois and their unborn child. To make matters even worse, the Joker rigged a nuclear device to go off when Lois’ heart stopped in turn causing Superman to be the very key to the destruction of Metropolis. Overcome with grief, Superman interrupts Batman’s interrogation of the Joker only to kill the Clown Prince of Crime in a fit of rage. Deciding that humans are not to be trusted to right their own wrongs, Superman begins to marshal his allies into creating the One Earth Government, overseen by himself, and eliminates any and all opposition. Some heroes and villains have aligned themselves with Superman and his Regime while others have now sided with Batman and the Insurgency. In a desperate act to once and for all end Superman’s rule, Batman opens a trans-dimensional portal to pull several heroes from in-continuity Earth to assist him. From there, the story progresses as the player takes control of several characters.
What I like about the story of Injustice is that it incorporates some of my favorite story elements from past DC stories – mainly the Crime Syndicate (in comics and animation) and the Justice Lords (from the DCAU). The characters involved in both the Crime Syndicate and the Justice Lords were evil, corrupted or frustrated counterparts of Earth One’s Justice League members. Turning towards crime and fascism, the heroes of those respective worlds became overlords, do what they please either out of heavy-handed justice or because they simply had the power to do so. Often times, in both the comics and animates series’, the Crime Syndicate or Justice Lords would face off against Earth One’s Justice League only to be defeated again and again with the heroes proving that their ideal handling of crime and villains through mercy and proper use of the justice system was better than the course their counterparts chose. The draw for me to these stories was that it showed what would happen should the heroes decide to cross the line and act as they wished with no regards how they used their powers. To now see that aspect of past stories making it into a proper DC fighting video game as the premise for what is happening and why events unfolded as they did is just completely freaking awesome.
That style of storytelling explains why some characters ac the way they do in the game. It explains why Superman is willing to kill and has suppressed an entire world. It explains why heroes like Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern and Aquaman have sided with Superman – also since these character with unparalleled powers are often seen as god-like in the DCU, it gives meaning to the term Gods Among Us in the game’s title. For gamers not familiar with the Crime Syndicate/Justice Lords stories who have been complaining about things like “Superman doesn’t kill,” or “Why would the heroes take over the world” – there is your answer. From the moment I first saw the previews for the game at E3 last year, I had a strong feeling this is where the story would be leading. Yet time and time again I would see complaints about the game regarding the heroes’ turn to villainy. Being familiar with the past stories, I knew the reasons and was often times asking people to look up the stories or wait for the game to come out before jumping to conclusions about the story or how NetherRealm and DC screwed up the characters. I thought the choice of using those story elements would blend together nicely for a game of this type and I am certainly glad that they did.
Story elements aside, the other aspect of the game that I really enjoyed was the actual fighting system. Utilizing the same style as Mortal Kombat with a couple of tweaks here and there, Injustice has an amazingly easy learning curve players can accustom themselves to fairly quickly. My oldest son has even mastered using many of the characters Super Moves and Location Transitions combinations – meaning that if a 6-year old can master these techniques, so can every other gamer out there. Another thing that I like about the game mechanics for Injustice is that no matter what setting of difficulty you set the game at, the opposing AI never becomes so frustratingly tricky that you find yourself screaming at the television in anger. That was a huge issue for me in Mortal Kombat – especially when fighting Shao Khan. He was so damn hard to defeat, and you had to repetitively use a particular move to keep him at bay that it was a downright awful experience. In Injustice, even at the highest difficulty setting, I never felt that way fighting any of the AI characters; not even the final battle with Superman (Regime version). The opponent AI seems well-balanced throughout the entire game, no matter what game mode you are playing.
Speaking of game modes, I love the variety of game modes in Injustice. You have your standard Story mode where you play through the main story of the game just as you did in Mortal Kombat where you take control of various characters throughout the game to experience the entire campaign from various angles. This is the game mode that I think everyone should start off with and accustom themselves to the controls of the game and familiarizes themselves with the story of the game. Also in single-player mode, you have these selections called Battles. Battles serve as the single player mode where you can view each character’s ending as well as act kind of like the Challenge Tower mode of Mortal Kombat. In some Battles you face only Heroes or Villains. In others, you are Poisoned and must defeat each opponent before the poison defeats you. Yet in others you face the opponent with only 25% of your full health and must defeat them under those conditions. And so it goes through a variety of Battle modes you can choose from. This adds an incredible amount of replayability to Injustice.
The last element that I really want to talk about Injustice in this review is the voice acting in the game. What an incredible job each of the voice actors did in bringing their characters to life. I am really happy with the way each character was portrayed by their respective actors… except one. While I understand why they went this route with the character of Raven and the voice pattern and tone she speaks with in the game, it just feels a little too off for the character. Honestly, she sounds like she has a lump in her throat she can’t clear. Worse yet, my friends and I were joking she sounds like some overly stereotypical transvestite character in a cartoon or something of that nature. I know, that was really rude and insensitive, but that is what we got from the character voice. I know she is half demon as the daughter of Trigon, but she really didn’t have to sound the way she did in the game. What was wrong with utilizing Tara Strong once again to voice Raven as she did in the Teen Titans animated series with maybe a bit more mature emphasis? I know she actually does voice her in the game, but why the whole deep voice bit? It was just way too distracting to hear her every time I fought against her.
Other than that one complaint, I really was impressed with the voice acting for the game. And why not? Do you all know who was voicing who in the game? George Newbern reprised his role as Superman from the Justice League animated series. Kevin Conroy reprises his role as Batman from the Batman animated series and other Batman projects. Tara Strong reprises her roles of Harley Quinn and Raven (ugh). Mark Rolston reprises the role of Lex Luther from the Young Justice animated series. Adam Baldwin portrays Green Lantern. Alan Tudyk portrays Green Arrow. Fred Tatasciore voices Solomon Grundy and Bane. Khary Payton reprises his role as Cyborg. You have Phil Lamar as Aquaman. Grey DeLisle reprises her role as Catwoman from Arkham City. Jenifer Hale reprises her role as Killer Frost as well as voicing Hawkgirl. And Susan Eisenberg returns to portray Wonder Woman once again. That is some A-Level talent participating in this game. Better than that, with so many actors and actresses returning to voice characters they have before, fans accustomed to their voices as those particular characters had to have loved them returning for Injustice.
With the exception of the way Raven was voiced in the game, and wishing that the story mode was just a tad bit longer, I really have no other complaints about Injustice. I really ended up liking the game way more than I thought I would. When I saw it at E3, I knew I was going to buy it. Then seeing it was being developed by NetherRealm and the story that was going to be used, I had an indication I would like it. But after spending two weeks with the game and really exploring everything the game has to offer, I can say now with no hesitation that Injustice: Gods Among Us is truly one of the best fighting games of this generation. In my personal and humble opinion, I would go so far as to say that Injustice ranks among the top five fighting games of then console generation – and you can quote me on that. A
On a side not, if you are curious as to the inspiration for the story used in Injustice: Gods Among Us, may I suggest the following:
* Justice League of America #29 (1964)
* JLA: Earth 2 #1
* JLA #107-114 Syndicate Rules storyline
* Justice League of America #49-53 Omega storyline
* Supergirl #6-8 Candor storyline
* 52 #52
* Countdown #31
* Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths animated feature
* Justice League animated series episode A Better World
* Justice League Unlimited animated series episode Divided We Fall