NetherRealm made waves with their fantastic Mortal Kombat reboot last year, and they surprised fighting fans once again with their recent reveal of Injustice: Gods Among Us. Starring DC superheroes, the new title makes use of the Mortal Kombat engine and was playable on the E3 show floor this year. We had a chance to play several matches of the fighter and learn about its unique mechanics.

Six characters have been revealed thus far, although the large select screen implies that we can expect many more. Superman, Batman, Solomon Grundy, Wonder Woman, Flash, and Harley Quinn were selectable at the event, along with two stages (the Batcave and the Fortress of Solitude). 

Injustice mixes up many trademarks of the genre, from its control scheme to its super meter. With A, X, and Y dedicated to light, medium, and heavy attacks, B is left free for the game’s hero abilities. NetherRealm let me know that they don’t have an official name for these abilities yet, but each character has a special function that sets them apart from the others. Batman can summon floating batarangs that he can direct towards opponents, even in mid-combo. Superman goes into a berserker mode that increases his damage. The Flash’s ability is sure to frustrate opponents, as it slows down everything but himself. With his opponent moving in slow motion, Flash is able to get in plenty of fast-paced offense.

The super meter is broken into four segments, and a ridiculous attack can be unleashed once they’re all full. Superman knocks his opponent into space and then slams them back to Earth. Solomon Grundy pulls a tombstone out of his chest and breaks it over his opponent’s head. Flash runs around the entire world to build up a light-speed haymaker to the face. They’re the equivalent to Mortal Kombat’s x-ray attacks, and they’re just as dramatic (even if they don’t match the gore factor).

If an enemy has you in the middle of an especially damaging combo, you can sacrifice part of your meter to activate clashes. These begin with the combatants trading character-specific taunts before charging at each other. During the animation, players can choose how much of their super meter they want to wager. Whoever bets more of their meter wins the clash. If the defender comes out on top, the entire damage of the combo is recovered. It’s an interesting bet, because players with a full super meter will probably win if they bet all four segments, but they’ll have to decide if the damage recovery is worth the loss of their super attack.

Players can also choose to attack with the environment itself. With the press of a bumper button, the superheroes can pick up cars, toss depth charges, and even fire missiles from the Batmobile. We only saw two stages, but the variety of DC locales should ensure some entertaining environmental attacks.

NetherRealm’s partnership with DC will prevent the gory fatalities Mortal Kombat fans love, but the developer’s love of unlockables and extensive single-player modes will almost certainly lead to a feature-packed fighter. With E3 drawing to a close, fighting fans can now look forward to the wealth of character and stage reveals that will surely lead up to the game’s 2013 release.

To read more details about the upcoming fighter, check out our interview with NetherRealm's Ed Boon.