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Fighting games have a bit of a stigma attached to them.
Games like Street Fighter and Marvel vs. Capcom are known for their steep
learning curves and almost complete lack of compelling single player content.
For competitive players a well-balanced roster of fighters is enough, but for
casual fighting game fans purchasing a fighter day one can seem like a waste of
cash, especially if you don't have friends to play with.
NetherRealm Studios, creators of the excellent 2013 reboot
of Mortal Kombat and unlike many of their Japanese fighting game developer counterparts, is doing its fair share to kombat (I couldn't resist) the
stereotype with their DC Comics 2D fighter Injustice: Gods Among Us. In the
process they may have created one of the best comic book games of all time.
DC's finest heroes and most notorious villains are all here
for players to take for a spin. Each of the 24 characters has a distinct
personality, and their gameplay reflects that. While several characters share
similar archetypes such as beefy grappler, quick and nimble skirmisher or long
ranged zoner, every hero and villain have their own unique combos, special
abilities, super moves and character power. It's a comic book nerds dream come
true. Ever wanted to see Batman fight Doomsday? Think Joker could take on
Superman? Do you feel the need to prove to the world that Aquaman is not, in
fact, a wuss? Injustice gives you your chance to play out all of your super
Bringing the fantasy to life are crisp visuals and some of
the most impressive battle arenas in a fighting game to date. The background of
each arena feels alive and is filled with enough super hero cameos and comic
book Easter eggs to make even the most critical fanboy smile. Injustice also
ships with an impressive number of stages. What makes this even more impressive
is the fact that the vast majority of stages feature multiple areas to battle
in, essentially doubling the stage count. Hitting your opponent with a heavy
attack near the edge of the stage will send them flying, often through
buildings, trains, and a whole host of other potentially harmful surfaces until
they crash land in the next zone to continue the battle.
Also littered throughout Injustice's environments are
objects that can be interacted with to gain an advantage over your opponent. A
button in the Batcave fires missiles from a parked Batmobile in the background,
and numerous objects can be picked up and thrown or bounced off of to distance
yourself from your opponent. Finding all these interactions and discovering how
to incorporate them within your fighting strategies adds a whole other layer of
depth and strategy to an already complex fighter.
But just because the games systems are complex doesn't necessarily
mean they aren't beginner friendly. Injustice excels at easing players into the
game. A simple and straight forward tutorial helps explain the basics, but it
is in the outrageous collection of missions, challenges, and mini-games known
as S.T.A.R. Labs where players will find the opportunity to further train with
their favorite characters but at the same time be entertained.
The over 200 S.T.A.R. Lab missions are just the beginning of
what Injustice offers for players who prefer to play their fighting games solo.
Injustice's biggest selling point, aside from being an incredibly solid
fighter, is its story mode. After Joker blows up Superman's hometown of
Metropolis and tricks the Man of Steel into killing the love of his life, Lois
Lane, and her unborn child, Superman goes off the deep end. He decides he has
been too soft, not using the full extent of his power and that people have died
because of it. He conquers the planet and erects the One Earth government.
Heroes who oppose him are captured, re-educated or killed. Only Batman and a
handful of other heroes and villains are left to oppose Superman and his
legions of super-powered soldiers. Told through cinematics and shifting
perspectives, players fight as various heroes as they attempt to thwart
Superman's increasingly paranoid and radical agenda. Comic book purists and
Clark Kent fans will likely cry foul of how Superman is portrayed here, but it
is all in the sake of fun and does a great job of giving a credible reason as
to why all these heroes and villains are fighting and teaming up in the first
A traditional ladder mode with unique endings for every
character rounds out the single player experience, and even this mode can be
played with a variety of modifiers and special conditions to liven up the
Competitive fighting game players won't be disappointed
either. There is more than enough depth here for hardcore fighter fans. Attacks come in a well-known variety of heavy, medium and light and concepts
like super meters, block escapes and juggling will all be familiar to players
of 2D fighters. These same fans can also
rest easy knowing there will always be somebody to challenge online thanks to
the games robust multiplayer options. It's a ton of fun to join a room of 50
other players and play a variety of King of the Hill, (winner stands) 1v1, or
Survivor (winner stands but with limited health regeneration) matches. As players play both online and offline they will level up, unlocking new costumes, pictures and other ways to accessorize their online presence. Leveling up also unlocks access and armory cards which can be used to unlock costumes, music, and concept art.
Injustice: Gods Among Us and NetherRealm Studios proves that
a fighting game can be much, much more than just two people beating each other
up (though there is plenty of that). By
delivering a compelling story in the DC comic universe and providing a huge
variety of content both single player and multiplayer, Injustice is a shining
example of what all developers of both fighting games and licensed properties
should shrive for.