Playground scores are about to be settled. Injustice: Gods Among Us mixes the fighting prowess of gaming’s goriest brawler, Mortal Kombat, with a roster of DC Comics stars to finally give everyone a chance to see whether Batman or Superman would win in a fight. But can its clash of superstar heroes and villains deliver a superpowered beat ‘em up? We fire up the PS3 to find out.
story, you say?
Story? In a fighting game? Yes, Injustice: Gods Among Us might be a one-on-one brawler, but it’s also keen to explain why Batman might be Bataranging the Green Lantern and how Lex Luther could end up fighting himself. The answer is some multi-dimensional trickery. Our heroes and villains have ended up in a parallel universe where Superman has gone all Kim Jong-un and established a global dictatorship where heroes are his evil henchmen. The result is a coherent and enjoyable justification for having a good and bad version of every goodie and baddie.
But we’re not here for a story, we’re here to fight, and Injustice is no slacker on the fisticuffs front. It’s made by the team behind the recent, and rather good, revival of Mortal Kombat and shares many of that game’s best traits. The fights are deliberate rather than hectic and while there are plenty of combos and lots of depth, it manages to keep things simple to learn but hard to master.
To spice up its polished and balanced fighting, Injustice makes sure its arenas are more than pretty backdrops. Each is a multi-levelled affair and comes with a sprinkling of objects that can be used to help players make short work of their rivals - think super-hero incinerating spaceship afterburners and chandeliers that characters can swing from like Adam Ant in his Prince Charming heyday and you’re along the right lines.
In story mode the game also spices up the brawls with a selection of minigames, such as having The Joker fend off an advancing opponent by flinging playing cards like throwing stars. While these mini-games aren’t anything special taken in isolation, they crop up often enough to inject some variety into the campaign while remaining short enough not to get in the way of the real action.
Another feature designed to liven up the action is the game’s wager system. During bouts players build up a Super Meter that can be used to initiate a wager, where each fighter bets a portion of that meter’s juice. Whoever bets the most wins and gets a health boost. In theory it should give struggling players a chance to turn the tables when everything seems lost but in practice it’s tricky to execute and distracts the fairness that underpins the rest of the fighting.
As if the meaty clashes and fun story weren’t enough to keep you hooked, Injustice is packed to the brim with alternative modes. First up is the Battles mode where players can unlock in-game extras by winning 10-rounds of fights. On top of this is the S.T.A.R. Labs mode, a huge collection of character-specific challenges (backed with short scene-setting stories) to test your fighting chops in a host of new ways. These, combined with the usual online multiplayer, make Injustice a game to keep coming back to.
Injustice’s meaty comic book combat delivers almost exactly what anyone would want from a DC Comics beat ‘em up. It looks great and, wager system aside, the fights strike a spot-on balance of skill and fun. There are plenty of bells and whistles to the basic combat, too, and plenty of features to keep you coming back for second, third and fourth helpings.
Reviewed on PS3.