Injustice: Gods Among Us (PS3) Review
Posted by Jeffrey Harris on 04.24.2013
The members of the Justice League are set against one of the most terrifying enemies imaginable...Superman. The team who revived the Mortal Kombat give their fighting game take on the DC Universe. Jeffrey Harris checks in with his official review of Injustice: Gods Among Us for PS3.
Title: Injustice: Gods Among Us
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Developer: NetherRealm Studios
Rated: T for Teen
The team at NetherRealm Studios found great success with their rendition/reboot of the Mortal Kombat in 2011. After both the Mortal Kombat/DC Universe franchises previously melded with Mortal Kombat vs. DCU, NetherRealm Studios instead gives a fresh spin on a DCU fighting game with Injustice: Gods Among Us. Featuring a dark, original story. As far as I can tell, this is the first true completely DCU fighting game (besides MK/DCU) since Justice League Task Force in 1990ís. So letís give the PS3 version a look.
NetherRealm Studios figured out a great way of how to build a storyline campaign around a traditional 2D fighting game by having a three dimensional, layered narrative where the levels you play through are the actual fights. Itís actually a very similar setup to the MKU/DCU game. The story would switch perspectives from one character to another and that character would fight different characters (of the playable selection) and then switch perspectives, and so on. Typically in a fighting gameís storyline mode you play as one character or set of characters all the way through and each character you win as might have their own unique ending. This process streamlines and gives one focused narrative for the entire game so you donít have to worry about which ending for each particular character is actually canon. The storyline itself in Injustice features an alternate dimension where Superman goes mad after he is tricked into killing Lois Lane and his unborn child. He then takes over the Earth, institutes his own fascist regime, and asserts total control. The rebellion of this alternate dimension is able to use a device to transport the regular members of the Justice League (Batman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Green Arrow, and Aquaman) to their dimension for help. Now to be fair, the story isn't wholly original. You can recognize elements from such stories as JLA: Earth 2 with some parts of episodes of the Justice League animated series and a little bit of Kingdom Come. However, the story is presented in an effective and dramatic fashion, especially seeing a Superman driven over the edge and what havoc that would cause.
The game features a tremendous voice cast and soundtrack. Kevin Conroy returns as Batman. Justice League animated series alums (and also of various animated movies) George Newbern and Susan Eisenberg reprise their roles as Superman and Wonder Woman respectively. Adam Baldwin does a great rendition of Green Lantern. The game is very well cast and the dialogue is top notch. Sound effects and the game's orchestral music are fantastic.
NetherRealm Studios provides us with a fairly robust view of the DC Universe. Lots of characters both famous and obscure are featured in the game along with many locations. The game is also loaded with Easter eggs, and there are is always a lot going in the background with tons of cameos. My personal favorites being Giganta and Atom Smasher brawling it out in the background of the Hall of Justice stage. The world of Injustice is elaborate and highly detailed. The character designs are all extremely modernized updates, taking the redesigns of the DC New 52 initiative a few steps further. I like the redesigns mostly, and while they are a bit busy and overdone in parts, they do still allow the characters to show they are superheroes. The graphics for the game are very good, but the in-game cinematics at some points look a little choppy and like there is a loss in framerate. The character models do look fairly stiff for a next-gen console platform, but I think the fighting gameplay makes up for it.
This is a great fighting engine for a DCU game. Each character has their own signature move and attacks as well as their own strengths and weaknesses. Overall, the controls and fighting works very and NetherRealm Studios mixes in some clever tweaks to the gameplay such as the Clash system. In this part, players can initiate an anime style double attack/mini-game that has a bit of high risk/big reward outcome. The story campaign also mixes in some QTE sequences to vary things up a bit. Each character has a super meter that they can charge up to initiate an elaborate signature attack. Each character also has their own special ability or weapon they can activate by pushing the circle button. The signature power is unique for each character, so NetherRealm Studios clearly put a good amount of thought and work into each character rather than just recycle abilities and moves. This means Flash can tap into the Speed Force. Wonder Woman can switch from using a sword and shield to her Lasso of Truth. Green Lantern can use his Green Lantern Power Battery, and so on. If there is one thing I wouldíve wanted to see though, it would be some version of a finisher or fatality but for the DCU characters. In terms of controls, I think Marvel vs. Capcom 3's controls had a certain smoothness I probably preferred. Progressing with a certain type of combo can be a bit laborious. Also, I wish getting an arena transition was a bit easier to accomplish at times. Sometimes getting the timing down can be frustrating. Also, dashing isn't very effective in this gameplay. It's barely even a dash. There should be a more effective run or dash mechanic.
One of the most fun things about the game though is the elaborate, multi-layered stages. The stages you fight in have extremely interactive environments with a lot of destruction and chaos going on in the background. Throughout the levels there are parts of the stages you can pick up and use as a weapon or throw at your opponent. There are objects you can jump or swing off of. In some stages you can knock your opponent out of the arena completely into another area which initiates an entertaining cut sequence. Never before have stages been so fun and elaborate in a fighting game. What is also unique is that not all characters interact with the background the same. Flash, not having the super strength of say Superman, can't lift up a vehicle and smash it over someone's head. Instead he jumps off the object. Again, the developers clearly did a good job of thinking out the characters and what they can and can't do.
Besides the storyline mode, the game features various alternate modes for added challenge. There is Online and Versus play as well as a challenge based mode called S.T.A.R. Labs. S.T.A.R. Labs is actually quite fun as it provides some different variation and challenges such as saving civilians from debris or having to fight LexCorp drones. Other modes include Battle, Versus, and Online Multiplayer modes. Battle Mode features Classic play which is more like a traditional arcade mode and even has some fun individualized endings for each character. Through these various modes, there is lots to unlock in the Archives section including XP power-ups, alternate skins, concept art, and much more.
- A highly impressive, involved, and well-written story campaign.
- Tremendous voice acting and soundtrack.
- The level designs and animations are fantastic complete with some fun arena transitions.
- Some nice various modes of play for essentially a 2D fighter.
- Graphics at times are a little rough around the edges and choppy.
- Controls while strong for the most part does have its weak points.
- Some additional hidden or unlockable characters wouldíve been nice.
Overall NetherRealm Studios did a great job with their DCU franchise fighter entry. Gameplay and arenas are a lot of fun to play through. The story is like seeing classic DC comics come to life. Flaws are few, but I wouldn't mind seeing NetherRealm Studios build off this style for a sequel. Voice work and writing for the game is fantastic.
Graphics and designs are overall good. But cut scenes and cinematics are at times rough and a little stiff.
Great fighting mechanics with some extraordinary and fun arenas. Combo building and juggling is a bit clunky at times.
A tremendous soundtrack and voice cast for this game.
A good amount of various modes of play, especially for a fighting game.