The lights are on
Eons ago, in the long, long ago, I played hours upon frustrating hours of Mortal Kombat II, much to the dismay of my easily offended mother. Though that game is quite dated to say the least, it remains one of my favorite games of all time and possibly my favorite Mortal Kombat title. It's rather easy to dismiss the first two MK games as 'ridiculous' in terms of playability considering the only kinds of combos included were awkward rapid punches accompanied with hilarious "hut-hut-hut" grunts. But by Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 (because the original MK3 was a giant steaming pile of crap) Ed Boon & Co. had made Mortal Kombat a front runner in the fighting game genre, on par with the likes of Capcom's one billion and one Street Fighter titles. After a handful of good 3D style fighting games, a surprisingly fun co-op adventure, a frustrating mess of a single player platformer and a whole hell of a lot of money, the Mortal Kombat series was finally rebooted in 2011 culminating in one of the best fighting games to date. So instead of taking the easy route and pummeling their faithful fans with sequels, Ed Boon and NetherRealm Studios instead opted to take a second crack at combining DC comics with Mortal Kombat's gameplay with Injustice: Gods Among Us. Judging by their first attempt with the disappointing Mortal Kombat VS DC Universe, they must have seriously wanted a do-over.
Don't you look at me like that, Scorpion.
To say I was skeptical about Injustice would imply that I actually cared about its existence at any given point. I seriously didn't. It isn't just because I'm not a big comic fan (though I have many comic loving friends which would explain my knowledge on the subject) but in all honesty, I am not the biggest fan of fighting games. I get way too frustrated for the safety of any objects near me for me to be an avid fighting game player, so I tend to avoid most of them. That isn't to say that I don't enjoy the hell out of many fighters, but it just isn't my preferred genre. It's this exact reason that I'm still flabbergasted (even more so than the fact that I just used the word "flabbergasted") at how hopelessly addicted I am to Injustice. I don't remember the last time I have been this hooked on a fighting game in my life. Every aspect that made the Mortal Kombat reboot great has been fine tuned along with a volley of new features. Most impressive of which is the sheer replayability of the thing.
Where to begin with this game is difficult. It's sort of like being asked whether or not Han Solo would beat Indiana Jones in a fight or which member of the Backstreet Boys you like best. It's one of those questions the world just wasn't meant to answer. But for the sake of you, the reader, I will give some basic points as to why I feel this game is the king of fighters (unlike the actual game King of Fighters). For one, Batman is in it. Case closed, now go buy it.
Okay, so Batman is only a tiny aspect of what makes this game great. Not to overlook the fact that there are 7 Batman characters (8 including the Batgirl DLC) and 6 Batman stages. With those numbers the game should more accurately be titled "Batman & Pals", but I digress. The cast of Injustice also includes the entire Justice League--with the INjustified exclusion of Martian Manhunter--Shazam, 3 out of 5 Titans and Aquaman. Try all you want, NetherRealm, Aquaman will never be cool. On the (in my opinion) much cooler villain side you have the greats: Joker, Harley Quinn, Doomsday, Sinestro, Lex Luthor and my personal favorite: Bane. What I find most impressive about the roster of Injustice is how vastly different each character plays. Aside from the cruelly spammable Deathstroke, it feels that no corners were cut when designing every one of these characters.
Anyone familiar with the Mortal Kombat reboot (hereafter referred to as "MK9" to save much needed typing space) will feel right at home with the gameplay. Combos are precise and flow very evenly with rhythm when you get the hang of it. Contrary to Capcom's tried and true approach of seizure inducing flashy combos, any kind of button mashing in Injustice will result in your loss. Though there is a learning curve--especially online--it's impossible to forget as soon as you get comfortable with a character. Seriously though, if you're playing online and you come across a Sinestro or Aquaman, I suggest you run and never look back.
Furthering the individuality of each character, everyone has their own unique finishing move and character power. Some of these character powers dictate the entire character's play style while others can help turn the table on their opponent. For example: Shazam's character power adds lighting to his fists, greatly increasing his damage output while Black Adam's power summons three revolving orbs around him that result in three unblockable hits to his opponent, given he does not take damage while they are active.
Trying its best to separate itself from Mortal Kombat, Injustice has a few subtle differences that keep it from being just a Mortal Kombat game with Batman and Superman. One is the absence of a block button. Blocking is now achieved by holding back instead of the long time Mortal Kombat staple of a designated block button. Much simpler than other fighting games' age old method, blocking while crouching is done automatically by just holding down. Rounds have also been replaced in favor of two health bars per match, which still kind of act as rounds so I suppose it doesn't change all that much. Whatever.
Graphically, the game is great. The stages in particular are enough to marvel at. Not even including the interactable weapons/objects or the cinematic level transitions, so much is going on in the backgrounds of every level that it is impossible to spot everything at first or second glance.
For a fighting game, Injustice has the most satisfying single player experience I've ever encountered. With a seriously gigantic list of different types of arcade modes, the S.T.A.R. Lab missions (this game's equivalent of the challenge tower from MK9) and the interesting story mode, this is the only fighting game I've played where I've spent more time playing one player than two. Even when friends of mine would come over to play the multiplayer in Injustice, we'd always just end up taking turns playing online or one of the many other single player options. The multiplayer is an absolute blast, but that is only a tiny portion of what this game offers.
I have a small list of complaints about this game, but a list nonetheless. At times, the timing needed when executing certain combos can be quite unforgiving. On the other side of that spectrum is the ease of spamming overpowered special moves with certain characters to the point where it almost feels encouraged. And though the S.T.A.R. Lab missions are interesting little challenges, far too many repeat themselves and even more are unbearably frustrating. Sometimes combining the two.
The absolute wealth of content here is enough to keep anyone busy for far too long. Injustice's appeal caused me to neglect personal responsibilities after a while and that's coming from a guy who doesn't even like fighting games! So unless you really enjoy spending time with the outside world for some reason, you simply must play this game.
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