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PlayStation 3 Review: Injustice: Gods Among us

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I had a whole lot of fun slogging my way through the single-player storyline in Injustice: Gods Among Us.  Nothing about it was great except for the ability to play as your favorite DC superheroes (and villains), but with semi-varied move sets, fun environments, and pretty great special moves it was enjoyable.  Now that I’ve completed it though, I really don’t think I’ll be picking it up again (unless there’s some DLC storyline that intrigues).

It is perhaps true of all fighting games that unless you’re in love with online multiplayer you’re not going to find much replay value once you’re done with the story, but it feels particularly true here.  A really robust character creation and upgrade system could help that, but no such thing is present.  The game is what it is, so let’s talk about what it is for a minute.

Injustice: Gods Among Us finds a whole bunch of your favorite superheroes going to a parallel world where Superman has gone evil after the death of Lois Lane and the destruction of Metropolis.  We get to see bad guys act as good guys, good guys act as bad guys, and a whole bunch of folks teaming up that you wouldn’t expect.  Plus, as there are two of some people in the alternate universe what with folks from Earth-1 (I’m calling it Earth-1 even if I’m not sure the game ever does) going to it, you get to see Batman take on Batman, Wonder Woman take on Wonder Woman, etc.

The story itself is utterly foolish, but that being said, it feels right.  We are talking about a comic book storyline with people with superpowers.  You can make them all angsty and broody with great results, but to make them traditionally comic booky naturally lends itself to a little goofiness.  The one place the story goes more awry than it ought is in its attempts to shoehorn a few extra folks in so that the roster can be a little more robust.  The results aren’t awful, but just a little too obvious.

Actually, where the narrative tends to fall down is in the incredible amount of time it takes to tell it.  You will fight a battle, watch cutscenes for somewhere between one and what feels like five minutes and then fight another battle.  The scenes on the shorter end of that spectrum are fine, but on the long end are slightly more disappointing.

As for the fighting itself, it is more good than bad without ever getting to be truly excellent (save for those special moves which are just fun to watch).  The game is well-balanced, so Superman or Batman can fight the Joker in a relatively even match even if that seems ludicrous in “reality.”  Of course, as reality has to be put in quotes there is it really something one can complain about without ending up in the deep end of fandom?

The problem here has to do with learning the moves.  There is a basic tutorial, but it doesn’t really get beyond the surface of how to actually do things.  That, combined with the fact that moves don’t always feel as though they execute when the correct series of buttons are pressed is frustrating.  Are you not pressing the buttons exactly as the game wants?  Are you pressing them correctly but timing it poorly?  Are you do everything right but with the game simply not responding?  A whole lot of time has to be spent with each character—and someone who knows exactly how to execute each move for the character—in order to make any sort of determination there.  It isn’t that you can’t fight well, it’s just that if you try to do some of the STAR Labs side missions you’ll be hugely frustrated when the game says to press triangle, square, square, and you press triangle, square, square and the game says you didn’t.

Rather than the standard best of three rounds, Injustice gives you two full bars of health and once they’re gone for either you or your opponent, the battle is over.  It is neither good nor bad, just noticeably different from many games’ default setup and therefore notable.

Online multiplayer exists in multiple forms, including ranked matches.  We found that just because a match is a ranked match though it doesn’t mean you’re going to be playing someone on the same level.  The game will simply note how incredibly better or worse you are than your opponent.  This means that it doesn’t take all that long to find a match, but you may find yourself facing an opponent who has no business being in the ring with you.

Playing Injustice, one will immediately call to mind the recent reboot of Mortal Kombat, and in no small part that may be because Injustice has been developed by NetherRealm who made said Mortal Kombat.  This title features the same sort of over-the-top bone-crunching goodness that one had and it really makes it work.

In the final summation, I am at something of a loss about what score to give the game.  It really is an enjoyable single-player experience, but it’s a full-priced game with little replay value if you’re not absolutely dying to go out and play a standard sort of multiplayer with DC characters.  If you find the title on sale somewhere for 50% off, it’s a great deal (my Toys r Us circular this week indicated it is on sale for $35).  For $60 though I just can’t see wanting to spend the money.

Injustice: Gods Among Us is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for lood, Language, Suggestive Themes, Violence. This game can also be found on: Wii U and Xbox 360.

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About Josh Lasser

Josh has deftly segued from a life of being pre-med to film school to television production to writing about the media in general. And by 'deftly' he means with agonizing second thoughts and the formation of an ulcer.