GAMER AMONG US +Tathagata Ray does it again, read his review of the much acclaimed Injustice: Gods Among Us.
Platforms: PS3 (Reviewed), Xbox 360 Release Date: April 16, 2013 Genre(s): Arcade, Fighting Publisher(s): Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment Developer: NetherRealm Studios
For the world of thrill seeking comic book lovers, there are only two factions to choose from. It’s not between being good and being evil. It’s an eternal rift between loving Detective Comics (DC) and glorifying Marvel Comics. And when you cast the same fishing net on the arcade gaming universe, you’ll catch majorly two kinds of people, the lovers of Tekken vs the worshipers of Mortal Kombat. My point is, we are already witnessing worlds collide, giants crash before we even start off with the real deal, Injustice: Gods Among Us.
Injustice is what any DC lover or for that matter of fact Mortal Kombat lover would want to experience. But considering the edge that Detective Comics has in terms of its storytelling power, it automatically becomes an uphill task for any gaming company who wants to adapt a game to it. However, it isn’t a new quest for game writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray who strived with the 2008 hit Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe. It was Midway’s answer to all the Marvel/Capcom impressions that were being created in the gamers’ minds. While MK vs DC Universe was a situation of portals being opened and Metropolis being invaded, Injustice has a deeper storyline to it, the one that perhaps will glue you to the game for the 7-8 hours you will be into.
The Joker has destroyed Metropolis, killed Superman’s beloved Lois, and escaped into oblivion. Leaving Superman mad, angry and plagued for revenge. If you’re a Star Wars fan, you’ll realise how petty things like anger, jealousy, hatred causes one to turn evil and give up to the dark side. The same followed in the case of Superman, he was lost in his anger, so lost that he chose to become a god, and punish anyone who came in his way, superheroes, villains, or even poor citizens. It sounds crazy but that’s the way the story of Injustice: Gods Among Us has been casted, it’s like one of those special editions of a Batman or a Superman comics where the hero has gone nuts and the villains are trying to bring his attention back to them. Heroes have either submitted to Superman’s fear or Sinestro’s regime. And set far away from the conscience of this world is another world, where the same fate has occurred, but the Superman has taken a chill pill and continued being a guardian along with his Justice League. That world (known later as Batman’s Insurgency Team) cracks into this world, accidently, gets freaked out for a second and tries to stop the mishaps taking place.
Personally, I make it a rule to stay out of headless arcade style fighting games, and go for the more challenging ones, either because I hate it or that I have no friends to play over at my place on weekends. But Injustice: Gods Among Us gave me a huge boost to rise above my prejudice and hatred. Number One reason would be the storyline. The story might look a bit flawed to the DC lovers, but it is a game at the end of the day, and the story does its level best to draw your attention and savour every cut scene. The gameplay sort of seamlessly flow with it. The introduction of characters seem legit, outrageously starting with the strategically advanced and martial arts trained Batman.
Injustice: Gods Among Us takes your level into account and it changes difficulty if you fail in a fight level miserably. Some characters are faster than others (Flash!), some characters can teleport (Shazam and Ares) and some are too blunt to accept damage (Grundy and Bane). There is no character weakness as such, and you cannot use the same as your way out. However, the strength of a character becomes the ultimate upper hand in fiercer fights. For example, Green Lantern can create anything in the universe to drill a hole into the opponent, while Wonder Woman can lash her opponent from anywhere. There is however a problem managing the special abilities of certain characters. For example, with Batman you have a horde of equipment, using it effectively will fetch you a flawless victory, but for a noob, managing Batman would be the worst nightmare. I was beaten to death by the other Nightwing because my Batman would shed his cape every now and then. The button syncs are messy for the lesser adventurous gamers.
Every character has a unique style of moving or celebrating after a victory. For example, Black Adam would float in mid-air with his arms locked and an expression that says,” I don’t give a F”. While a supercharged Doomsday would move or jump, shaking up the earth from below. Shazam turns into a kid and turns back into the Shazam we know when he celebrates, funny and entertaining. Also, each character has a distinct finishing move. A well-researched and creatively amazing cut scene wherein he/she would give his/her opponents a round of blows using the strength into advantage. For the flashy Flash, he would make a round trip across the world before insulting your wounds. While Doomsday would finish you off by punching you across the core of the earth and back on surface level again. That’s how I fell in love with Aquaman’s finisher, wherein he commands the ocean to come to his aid and he finally feeds the opponent to a shark.
For the first time, I was introduced to killing off my opponents by simply using the interactive objects lying around. As the story ascends, you will find yourself fighting in different worlds, arenas, and each one of them offers you certain destructible, unblockable interactive objects. For a brawl at Stryker Island, I used to throw missiles at my opponent to cool him, and etc.
You also have the wager fight, wherein you or your opponent draw the wager and depending on who’s got a better meter, one gets hit and the other one receives a battle superiority. All these minute detailing makes it really stand out from normal 1vs1 situations.
Given the fact that parallel universe is a concept that is a mighty hit in films, and needed to be explored in video games as well, I did face a real tough time finding out which Batman is mine. While you can easily separate the Green Lantern from the Yellow Lantern (unless you’re colourblind), there comes a time when both the Batman or both the Superman look the same. Their body movements and arsenal are the same, so there is actually no choice left on the gamer to figure out which one’s his, until he lets go of his controller for a second.
There is also a bit of a server issue as far as Injustice: Gods Among Us for PS3 goes. It wouldn’t take me ages like in God Of War: Ascension to get a match. But it would snap on and off in between fights.
Having said all this, I must admit: At the end of the day, I realised I didn’t play any arcade fighting game; I finished a great story, ‘in style’!
Graphics and Sound
Considering the level restrictions on the game, the game however gives you a decent graphical satisfaction. Loads of things to explode and loads of gadgets to use. After all, some gamers just want to watch the world burn.
A real test of the graphics comes when the cut scenes arrive. Some parts, especially the underwater world of Atlantis, are neatly drawn. However, you feel that the graphics look from the year 2009-10 when there are a lot of things happening on your screen. For example, there’s a cutscene wherein Aquaman hauls his crab like creatures into Metropolis. That part looks awfully shady.
The soundtrack comes alive when you are scrolling between archives, brawls and online modes. It has a dark theme to it, not entirely dark like the Arkham series, but dark enough. The credits roll with Depeche Mode adding a little electronica to your well-deserved victory.
Injustice: Gods Among Us is a well-rehearsed story that will not only satisfy you but keep you hungry for more. However, the true intention of any arcade style fighting game is to make you return to the game and give yourself more of these challenges. Injustice pays off your fighting skills with cool unlocks, like Hero card packs. These would have official DC comic book covers or concept arts to build and flaunt your customised Hero Cards. You can also unlock different game modes for yourself and save them to play later. There are many alternate skins for your character to unlock. And the greed won’t simply die.
The real underdog in this game is the Game Mode called S.T.A.R. Labs. Here you play a character and perform the given tasks in a single fight. You get rewarded with stars depending on how many objectives you ticked off.
Once you are done with the offline mode, there is a horde of superhuman mercenary waiting for you in the online world. The battles differ from time to time, and being online, you will need to know your combos well. Leave the opponent high and dry; don’t give them a single space to dominate you.
The DC heroes are all neatly laid out. Me being a huge Batman and Green Lantern fan, I find my inner child crying tears of joy while slicing combos with Superman. The beautifully torn apart Metropolis and the spooky Bat Cave are examples of how intricate arcade game levels should be.
Wonderwoman is portrayed as the real Amazon and not a hedonist busty woman. She has thick shoulders and a powerful forehand that can take off the eye that even dares to look at her assets. Catwoman is as sly as ever. The Joker’s got some real surprise up his sleeve while he is at combat. All the DC characters are given their righteous strengths and weaknesses, as it would be in the books.
Before and after every battle you see a mini story. Be it in the Flash realising his true potential or the Bat realising that he is fighting his own blood. And all these stories end with a punch line that takes you back to the pages of the comic books or the movies based on them. To call these flukes would seem unfair, these are well-rehearsed and ‘planned’. Sorry Joker!
All in all, Injustice: Gods Among Us is a game that will unleash the true comic addict in you with a hint of the Mortal Kombat pedigree that you inherit. But it is of course a matter of perspective. Look too keen into the storyline, you’ll find questions. Stray too much into the gameplay, you will see repetition. I liked it, hope you like it too.
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