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Injustice: Gods Among Us review

Great
AT A GLANCE
  • Incredible roster and story mode
  • Smooth online play
  • Fan-service aplenty
  • Some spam-heavy characters
  • Controls initially feel rigid
  • Costumes suffer from DLC overkill

With Superman, there’s always that underlying tension: What if one day, he just snapped? What kind of havoc could the all-powerful Kryptonian wreak on mankind? You’ll get to experience his terrifying strength firsthand in Injustice: Gods Among Us, the latest 2.5D fighter from NetherRealm Studios that pits DC's most iconic heroes and villains against each other. It’s one of the most accessible, adrenaline-charged brawlers around, and despite a few missteps, Injustice will be a surefire hit with fans of the brand and genre alike.

The 24 heroes and villains that comprise the Injustice roster offer stellar variety, and half the fun of using them comes from how unique and powerful they all feel. The other half lies in the sheer intensity of the attack animations: Every uppercut and gut punch has a palpable force to it, and the bombastic super attacks are the epitome of crowd-pleasing. It all looks stunning, thanks to graphics that strike just the right balance between realism and cartoonish color. Sound also plays a huge part in the impact of your attacks--when The Flash does a running punch with the Earth’s circumference as the wind-up, the crunchy sound effects and eye-popping visuals will make you feel the force of the blow. 

"...the bombastic super attacks are the epitome of crowd-pleasing."

No matter your playstyle, you’ll find someone to love in Injustice. Like lengthy, big-damage combos? Green Lantern’s your guy. Solomon Grundy and Doomsday will please those with a preference for brutal bruisers, while tricky players will love Batman and Green Arrow. Somewhat obscure pugilists like Ares and Killer Frost may not have the notoriety of Shazam or Wonder Woman, but they’re no less fun to bash faces with. It’s not all about your preferred brawler, either--the environment can have almost as big an impact on a fight as the chosen combatants. This is due to interactables, which let you wield the scenery as a weapon, and cinematic stage transitions that are the superhero’s equivalent of a hip-shattering tumble down the stairs. This focus on the stage as a deciding factor is refreshingly different and easy to grasp--it won’t take more than a few matches to ascertain where the interactable objects are, and how to avoid them when they’re used against you. That said, you can always disable them if you prefer to stick to the basics.

Each fighter is made all the more unique by their Trait, a character-specific ability that can completely alter their approach or simply enhance it. Joker’s parrying Trait is a huge factor in playing him properly, while others like Aquaman’s water shield simply reduce the risk of going on the offensive. They’re all activated with a simple button press--in fact, simplicity is one of Injustice’s strong suits when it comes to controls. Instead of the two punch, two kick layout of Mortal Kombat, Injustice uses the easy-to-grasp setup of light, medium, and heavy attacks plus a Trait. The Block button has been done away with entirely, while special move inputs and combo timings are more forgiving than your typical fighting game. A new one-use Wager move provides a great equalizer for close matches, though it's less exciting to gamble chunks of your super meter when the opponent can clearly outbid you. 

"No matter your playstyle, you’ll find someone to love in Injustice."

Giving each fighter their own distinguishing Trait makes everyone feel varied; the drawback is that you’ll have to do some homework on which characters can do what before you’ll know what you’re up against. But when these Traits promote an irritating style of play, it can be a problem. When it comes to long-distance zoning, Deathstroke is king, with Superman, Black Adam, and Harley Quinn being potential projectile spamming culprits. These fighters all have moves that make them excel at thrashing you from afar--but it nearly threatens to ruin the game for you if you’re at the mercy of an unending stream of handgun fire or laser beams. Watching a skilled Deathstroke is boring; playing against one is absolutely infuriating. With practice, you’ll find ways to get in on these spam-centric defenses, but having to face them may make you give up on the game entirely.

Of course, these kinds of frustrations are only likely to arise during multiplayer affairs. In terms of the single-player, Injustice offers plenty of options. The star of the show is the game’s story mode, a gripping campaign that offers a great explanation for why heroes are beating each other to a pulp, and why the Joker doesn’t die from taking a hail of bullets to the face. It’s exciting from beginning to end, feeling like an epic crossover comic come to life or a Justice League feature film. Seamless transitions between cutscenes and fistfights make it a captivating 3-to-5-hour thrill ride--and even if you blow through the campaign in one marathon sitting, you’ll walk away satisfied.

"The star of the show is the game’s story mode..."

Once you’ve completed the story mode, your other solo options are some typical arcade-style Battle ladders or some charming (but ultimately superfluous) mini-games in the S.T.A.R. Labs. Your time would be better spent testing your mettle against other players, whether through living room duels or Injustice’s excellent online experience. The dependable netcode keeps lag at a minimum, and the online Theater view lets you switch between spectating a match and inspecting other players in the lobby with zero hassle (something that ought to be the standard for all future fighters).

For all its impressive visuals and enjoyable online play, some areas of Injustice feel like they’re lagging behind the contemporary competition. The controls stay faithful to the pre-established physics of Mortal Kombat, perhaps to a fault--the fixed jumping angles, stiff dash distances, and general heaviness of the characters can feel a bit clunky when compared to other 2D fighters. Once you’ve acclimated yourself to the controls, they’re undoubtedly solid, but getting to that point may take a few hours of practice.

"Once you’ve acclimated yourself to the controls, they’re undoubtedly solid, but getting to that point may take a few hours of practice."

Injustice also takes alternate costumes a step further past the typical palette swap by giving some costumes their own intro and victory animations. But many outfits have been relegated to pre-order bonuses, while others, like the coveted Yellow Lantern outfit, are doled out seemingly at random as you level up your profile. It’s disheartening to see a sweet alternate costume online, only to realize that you won’t probably get the chance to don those spiffy tights any time soon.

All-in-all, Injustice is a licensed fighting game done right, sure to please fans of the brand and the genre. Its accessibility lets casual gamers or avid comic readers enjoy themselves, while retaining all the depth that fighter enthusiasts crave. If you've ever wanted to witness Batman and Superman duke it out in a brutal showdown, there's no better time than now.

This game was reviewed on Xbox 360.

More Info

Release date: Nov 12 2013 - PS4
Apr 16 2013 - Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U (US)
Apr 19 2013 - Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U (UK)
Available Platforms: PS4, Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U
Genre: Fighting
Published by: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Developed by: NetherRealm
ESRB Rating:
Teen: Blood, Language, Suggestive Themes, Use of Tobacco, Violence

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20 comments

  • Swedish_Chef - April 16, 2013 6:08 a.m.

    You could say that it'd be an Injustice to pass this game up. ...I'll let myself out.
  • mafyooz - April 16, 2013 7:43 a.m.

    Not sure which is worse, that you made that joke or that you beat me to it!
  • ObliqueZombie - April 16, 2013 6:34 a.m.

    I'm pretty shite at fighting games, and if the demo is any indication, I'm still pretty shite. But my GOD does it look cool. I might have to just suffer the beatings and get better at it.
  • antiAntag0nist - April 16, 2013 6:47 a.m.

    Great review, going to pick up my copy today.
  • Talvari - April 16, 2013 7:28 a.m.

    Reminds me of MK9...pass
  • Mr_Skyfish - April 16, 2013 11:11 a.m.

    Reminds me of MK9...BUYING IT LOL
  • slimjim441 - April 16, 2013 12:16 p.m.

    Likewise. It's different though. It's like a weird mix of MK/SF/Tekken control scheme. It's like they didn't know where to go. Still fun, but GR is right. It takes some getting used to.
  • BladedFalcon - April 16, 2013 7:56 a.m.

    Most definitely a rental for me. Sounds like I'll have a blast with the single player campaign, and dicking around a bit to know all the characters, but that'll be it. Still looking forward to it, even though I don't care about DC characters all that much XD
  • TheDudeFromNowhere - April 16, 2013 10:04 a.m.

    Its definitely rigid at first(a sprinkle of MK), but once you get the hang of the game, it gets quite flexible and fun. Looking forward to playing the story mode.
  • ultimatepunchrod - April 16, 2013 10:36 a.m.

    I made a poor decision to not work this game into my budget.
  • KishouTenpi - April 16, 2013 11:30 a.m.

    I despise Mortal Kombat games for the two-punch, two-kick controls and I couldn't get to grips with the demo but I am dying to try this anyway... so tempted....
  • Money62 - April 16, 2013 7:04 p.m.

    Man I love this game I got it on my iPad
  • supergiraffe - April 16, 2013 9:09 p.m.

    I suck at fighters, and hate learning them, but I feel like I may cave and get this.
  • g1rldraco7 - April 16, 2013 10:34 p.m.

    I got my copy and the season pass. Already know the first DLC character to be released ;P
  • Ravenbom - April 17, 2013 1:22 p.m.

    Umm, "bombastic super attacks"? Bombastic means pompous, pretentious. So other than a backhanded slap, I can't think of an attack that would be pretentious. The game itself looks like a tempting buy to me, too bad my 360 took a shit on me. I have my fight stick for the 360 not my PS3 so I'm slightly less tempted than I otherwise would be.
  • wadesmit - April 18, 2013 4:15 a.m.

    The meaning of bombast changes with context. It can mean, colloquially; over-the-top, even epic.
  • megalodon - April 20, 2013 5:20 p.m.

    being able to beat Doomsday to a pulp and have my ass handed to me by Harley Quinn is going to confound me for a long time LOL
  • The_Revenant - April 22, 2013 12:29 p.m.

    Don't know if this was mention already, but i think a great costume pack would be an animated series one. Like what Arkham city had. All the characters have appeared in the series "justice league unlimited", they could use those costume designs. As far as dlc characters, I'd like to see Martian Manhunter, Darkseid, Black Canary, Huntress, Brainiac, the demon Etrigan, and even Plastic Man would be an interesting character.
  • WaterDookie - May 6, 2013 8:37 p.m.

    I played this game about a week ago at a friends house.And i loved every battle so far. I'm going to buy this game tomorrow.
  • universaltofu - August 17, 2013 8:33 p.m.

    I think I'm addicted to getting fighting games and then not being any good at them, buying every dlc character so when I meet someone who does know how to play it, they have the option of beating me with every character.

Showing 1-20 of 20 comments

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