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Xbox 360 Review: Injustice: Gods Among Us

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I have to be honest.  I haven’t been swayed by the heavy marketing campaign that the Los Angeles based publisher, Warner Bros. has been running for Injustice: Gods Among Us.  It isn’t that I’m not a fan of superheroes.  I’ve been a casual comic book reader and sometimes collector since the end of the Bronze Age of comics.  The real issue is that, as a rule, I don’t believe fighting games are worth a full AAA game price.  They are too limited in scope and as an entertainment package are inferior to other genres.  The ironic thing is that Injustice is made for gamers like me.

The Mortal Kombat series has found a niche as the guilty pleasure of fighting games.  It has nowhere near the technical precision and balance of games like Blaz Blue or Capcom’s 2D offerings.  Developer NetherRealm seems satisfied with their audience and their model is really the perfect choice for creating fighting games for other IPs.  Recently at the L.A. Games Conference, a couple of panelists pleaded with a Warner Bros. executive to try to make a deal with Disney to merge the Marvel and DC universes.  You might remember that NetherRealm did merge DC Comics superheroes with their own Mortal Kombat characters a few years ago.

Where Injustice: Gods Among Us really stands apart is in the narrative for the single player campaign.  The story is pretty fantastical and one that you would expect from comic books before they went all dystopian.  That’s not to say the campaign is entirely consistent, there are a couple sequences that don’t make a lot of sense, though trying to include so many playable characters is certainly a challenge.  Though the campaign is a little Batman heavy, there are 24 playable superheroes and villains out of the box with more characters to be offered as DLC.

There are certainly other fighting games that have tried providing a full campaign to their games.  Recent Naruto and Shin Megami entries have offered story modes that are nearly as ambitious, but their presentation style isn’t as appealing to western audiences.  As fun and lengthy as the campaign here is to play through, I do wish there was more.  Injustice does offer the ability to choose a hero or villain and play through a short epilogue of sorts which is unique to each character.  Once you’re done with all of that, there are also S.T.A.R. Lab missions that offer unique gameplay challenges to unlock additional content.

The controls for Injustice are understandably a little different from Mortal Kombat’s to accommodate this super-powered cast.  Unfortunately, this game has followed the trend of removing physical manuals.  There is a tutorial system, but only the basics are really covered.  The d-pad controls your character’s movement and the analog sticks are not used at all in this 2D fighting game.  The face buttons are mapped to a light, medium and heavy attack with the B button designated for character specific special attacks.  Pressing both bumpers will execute a character specific super move if the meter is charged.

With a game like this, pages could be written about the controls and moves.  The most notable controls not already covered are assigned to the individual bumpers.  The left bumper executes throws and the right bumper uses or activates an environmental element.  For some characters, a light pole in the arena can serve as quick route to your opponent’s backside.  A different character might use that same light pole as a weapon.  Heavy attacks at the edge of the screen can also send opponents crashing to a secondary area.  Most of the environments are modeled after classic DC Comics locations like the Fortress of Solitude and the Batcave.

Of course it wouldn’t be a fighting game without multiplayer.  Injustice: Gods Among Us offers local two player pairings and up to eight players online in a King of the Hill type tournament with live spectating.   The multiplayer matches net currency that can be used for further unlocks.  Another interesting tie-in uses the Warner Bros. ID and the iOs version of the game.  Players are able to unlock content on their console version for the free to play iOs game and vice versa.  Unfortunately, this doesn’t apply to owners of the Wii U version of the game.

I find Injustice: Gods Among Us to offer a substantial amount of entertainment wrapped around a fighting game.  Although, those without at least a casual appreciation of the DC Comics universe probably won’t agree.  Despite some pretty well executed character models, they will just see the mixed bag of graphics and a plot that wouldn’t work anywhere else.  2D fighting game pros will also hate the uneven mechanics.  That’s okay, because some people will want the game just to be able to use Aqua-Man’s fatality reminiscent super move.

 

Injustice: Gods Among Us is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Blood, Language, Suggestive Themes, Violence. This game can also be found on: PS3 and Wii U.

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About Lance Roth

Lance Roth has over 10 years experience in the video game industry. He has worked in a number of capacities within the industry and currently provides development and strategy consulting. He participated in all of the major console launches since the Dreamcast. This videogame resume goes all of the way back to when they were written in DOS. You can contact Lance at RPGameX.com or rpgamex@gmail.com.