Superman writers have struggled over the 75 years of his existence to find suitable opponents for the mightiest of heroes. Being almost invincible, super-fast, bullet-proof and not to mention astonishingly intelligent, Supes has never been the easiest of characters to make mortal.
Imagine the dilemma then for Injustice, who has to deal with 26 like-powered super and superlative meta-humans, all of whom need to be flawed enough to be believably beaten by their peers while also not weak enough to destroy decades of comic legacy.
The DC Universe has seen this sort of dilemma before in the realm of gaming, with the underwhelming Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe. While the match-ups were a wet dream of classic battles, the reality was an unbalanced waste of some stunning potential, a potential that is finally fully realized with Injustice.
What sets the game apart from the majority of contemporaries and places it alongside such modern fighting classics like Street Fighter IV, Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter X Tekken, and actually superseded those titles in particular aspects is the story, which should come as no surprise to fans of the rich and deep comics that characters are pulled from.
Injustice really shines in its approach to story-telling. Aside from the brilliant single-player campaign, skillfully crafted narratives litter the entire game; from the tutorials to the STAR LABS, every piece of Injustice feels like it belongs in the fabulous DC Universe.
The main meat of the mighty fighter is found within a lengthy and deep campaign. Positing a remarkable what-if that could have come straight out of one of the epic DC crossovers of the mid-nineties, Injustice takes the iconic, and usually unflappable, Superman and makes him very, very different.
It would spoil the twists and turns of the single-player experience to explain too much further, but the basis of the narrative allows NetherRealm to pitch hero against hero, turn super-villain into savior and create some jaw-dropping moments of madness.
By the end, players will have fought as the majority of characters in the game and experienced the plethora of different styles that these legends bring to the table. Playing as the blockbuster Superman is quite a different experience from the projectile-based Green Arrow who in turn is another chapter removed from the crazed, maniacal Joker.
Even the pickiest of players will find a super-hero or villain to their liking, and will be inclined to use him or her in further parts of the expansive game. You see progress through the campaign also grants players cards to unlock copious amounts of art, music, costumes, and most importantly, variations on the traditional Mortal Kombat battle ladder that will challenge even the most hard core fighter.
The ladder can be completed in numerous ways, with multiple different challenges placed in front of fighters. Be that fighting only villains, fighting with just one life bar, or fighting with a full super bar (but with no access to the actual supers). It’s these kind of creative ways of playing that will keep gamers coming back to Injustice months after release, that and the balance of the fighting itself.
The influence of the Mortal Kombat series is obvious in the mechanics of the system that underlies the entire game. Although removing some of the MK standards, for example the block button is replaced by a directional block, anything that NetherRealm took out or modified meant was a refinement, not a backwards step.
Super moves are ridiculously over-the-top and powerful but also can expose the unprepared to the wager system. In Injustice, the wager system can be the difference between winning and losing and cleverly also uses the same super meter! The key to winning the mini-game is wagering more super meter than your opponent, and if you don’t have enough, then failure is almost guaranteed. The winner of a wager will gain back a huge amount of health or deal massive damage, which could change the course of any match.
Injustice adds to the amazing amount of content with the staggering, almost endless, STAR LABS. These are a series of single matches with certain conditions to be able to fully complete. Simply winning the match is never totally enough, and hundreds of different creative conditions come into play making the STAR LABS and astonishingly creative and challenging experience.
Add to this interactive environments, multiple level stages, unique character-specific powers and the best line-up of DC fighters ever seen in ANY video game and Injustice is one of the best additions to the genre in years. Any fighting fan would be foolish to fail to pick up this fantastic fighter. Injustice kicks ass. [8.5]
Platform: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Publisher: Warner Bros.
Developer: NetherRealm Studios