Injustice: Gods Among Us (Wii U) Review:

Holy evil Superman Batman!

Violent.
Violent.

Injustice: Gods Among Us acts as a follow up of sorts to Mortal Kombat Vs. DC Universe, but instead of it being a simple crossover akin to Marvel Vs. Capcom it is a full-on fighting game incorporating characters from all across the DC Universe.

Threading all these different characters together is a fantastically over-the-top storyline involving Superman turning evil and two alternate universes. The story mode is quite a short affair (just a few hours) but really seems necessary inasmuch as explaining the reasoning behind the game. The story mode is more than necessary however, and it leads me to question: why don’t we see more story modes like this in fighting games? It’s an ever expanding story that successfully threads together characters from across the DC Universe and its trick is to make the mode feel  fresh by never sticking with just one character (although I would have liked to spent more time playing as villains). It acts as something like a glorified tutorial for a fair number of the playable characters.

Nerds on tour.
Nerds on tour.

The story mode is simply the icing on the cake however; it’s a brilliant addition to an already massive game. Beyond the story mode we have versus, Battle mode (where you will find the more traditional fighting game options such as Arcade mode), Training, The Vaults and S.T.A.R. Labs: these last two need more explaining.

The Vaults is where you will find a huge gamut of unlockables and information on all of the playable characters. You earn these collectables by obtaining Access Cards, and you get Access Cards by levelling up. Characters don’t level up, but your profile does; this happens from playing the game, the more you win and the better combos you do in fight, the more you level up and thus the more you unlock. It’s a great system that adds replay value and a desire to perform – what you want in a fighting game.

S.T.A.R. Labs is the true glorified tutorial: it offers up 240 missions (around ten for each character) that increase in difficulty, each one giving a new insight in how each character plays and works with their respective moveset. It’s a big mode, but one that’s well worth a go for those who want to hone their skills or those who just want to play the game more and for those completionists out there, each mission has a score system out of three stars – a must for players with too much time on their hands.

Definitely not a cleaned up publicity shot.
Definitely not a cleaned up publicity shot.

Online performs well, giving ranked and unranked matches as per usual as well as King of the Hill (8 players watch until their turn, not sure what happens then) and Survivor (which your health and character is carried over until you are defeated). I have not tried the King of the Hill mode or the survivor mode, but they do sound interesting.

I’m sure the question in your mind is: why, this all sounds well and good, but how does it play? The answer is: well. Despite being made by the Mortal Kombat alums, there are no finishing moves to be found here, instead we have super moves, which when pulled off give amazing cinematic sequences (one for each character) showcasing the opposing player getting brutally beaten up. It’s great fun.

One aspect of the gameplay still eludes me however: the clashes. Every now and then your character and the computer (or player) controlled enemy will clash together and you have to choose the highest level of super power you have (a meter that builds up over  the battle), trouble is, it’s completely random; for the life of me I cannot figure out how to pull off a clash – it’s not even mentioned in the instructions.

Despite this aspect of randomness, the game plays well and each character feels great to use with their own strengths and weaknesses, there are no clones here even with 24 playable fighters. Building combos however strikes me as a little too difficult, meaning Injustice is not brilliant for fighting newcomers, a shame as most people who own or want the game will just be interested in the characters and settings – something the game nails expertly.

That's for stealing the show!
That’s for stealing the show!

Batman feels and moves like Batman, Superman feels and moves like Superman and so on… better yet, everywhere to fight in the game is taken from DC’s expansive universe and (despite the odd slightly uninspired stage), each stage moves and evolves with the fighting. You can interact with parts of each stage – a key to winning in my opinion – like throwing a car at the opponent (with strong fighters). It’s a very neat function and one I feel should be in more fighting games.

The stages are stronger than that though, they fall apart during the fighting and a fair amount of them can be used and abused further. For example, in one stage you can knock a fighter into a lift, pummelling them a good ‘un while it moves up or down. The amount of detail in each stage is wonderful and really adds to the aesthetic of the game – which, as you would probably expect is dark and over-the-top, such as comic books tend to be.

But what of the game did not gel with me you ask? The character roster. For a universe as large as DC’s, you’d expect a vast array of characters from many different series, alas, seven of the twenty-four playable characters are from the Batman series (Nightwing is tantamount to Batman) – 29% of the characters are from Batman. Such a large amount from one series would not be a problem if there were more fighters playable, but it just seems unfair on the rest of the series on show that Batman takes up nearly a third of the roster. If there were three or four from each series in the game, it would be fine.

There is not much different for the Wii U version of the game other than you can play the whole game on the gamepad, but it is a shame that you can’t access all of the DLC.

Summary:

Injustice: Gods Among Us is a good fighting game, but it is no classic in the genre. It is good fun to fight as your favourite DC superheroes and villains (requiring they’re in the game) and there is a good balance to the game – you never feel outmatched. There is a ton to do and it looks nice to boot, shame it’s a little unforgiving to fighting game newbies and there is just too much Batman.

Play as Aquaman, he is the best.

82/100

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