Demo’d: Injustice: Gods Among Us
Comics have always posited the idea that superheroes are a better breed of people than the rest of us; that we should just assume they will always use their powers wisely. As a blunt counterpoint, some of the best comics and graphic novels are those that paint superheroes as flawed human beings who would use their powers for petty reasons, and in Injustice: Gods Among Us, that reason is for an epic slug-fest between the heroes and villains of DC Comics.
Developed by Netherrealm, of Mortal Kombat infamy, Injustice bears many similarities to the 2011 MK reboot. Fighters have an array of special moves as well as quick combos that allow for flexibility in terms of player creativity, the key to victory being to get them bouncing up in the air and then follow up with a vicious volley of attacks.
The demo showcases three of the playable characters: Batman, Wonder Woman, and Lex Luthor. Batman is the Johnny Cage of the lot, with intuitive combos that are devastatingly fast leaving opponents open to more attacks. Plus he has all of his nifty gadgets and trademark batarangs. He can also glide for a short period and his special attack is a brutal beatdown that ends with him remotely operating the batmobile to run over his adversary. Fans of the animated series will be ecstatic to know that Kevin Conroy once again voices the character.
Wonder Woman has two styles that can be toggled: lasso and sword. The former has her using her flying abilities and grabbing enemies with her magic lasso, whilst the latter keeps her feet on the ground as she takes her opponent to task with her Amazonian sword-and-shield. For her finisher, she ties the enemy up with her lasso as Amazon guards give them a work-over before ending them with a sword flash.
Lex Luther prefers to use various traps from his power-armored suit and has the stiffest combos of the bunch. In many respects he feels like Dormammu from Marvel vs. Capcom 3 — fighting from afar rather than up close. Lex’s finisher allows him to harness the awesome power of one of his many LexCorp satellites and level a concentrated laser attack on whatever poor sap happens to be his opponent. Each fighter feels fully-developed and varied in how they approach combat, giving players a reason to get well-acquainted with the movelists and learn the nuances of each character.
The demo allows you to play through four bouts, culminating in a showdown with Doomsday. Only two stages are available, both taking place in different sections of Gotham City with all kinds of Hell breaking loose in the background: helicopters flying, buildings getting torn up, and a temporary blackout. The scenery is interactive, and with the tap of a button players can fling trash bins, knock over water towers, punch opponents into helicopters, give them a taste of toxic sludge from a tanker, and even propel them into a wrecking ball.
One particularly brutal move finds fighters on the wrong end of a subway train collision. It’s all very ruthless and hammers home the fact that these are super-powered fights with all the collateral damage one often sees in comics. It’s immensely satisfying to finish a punishing combo with a weapon from the background.
At times, fighters will be engaged in an epic showdown where they take their places at the opposite end of a stage, gear up for one powerful attack and recklessly charge at each other, engulfing the screen in a blinding light. This ends in a sort of mini-game where each player bets on which button the other one pressed, but the comic book-inspired flair makes it entertaining to watch. The loser takes significant damage while the winner gets a small energy boost that can shift the fight to their favor.
Fans of Mortal Kombat will enjoy the tweaked fighting mechanics and comic book enthusiasts can rest assured that Netherrealm has done right by DC Comics. Despite only having a offline versus and a handful of matches available in the demo, the full game promises to deliver tons of classic DC characters (although the roster seems to lean a little too heavily on Batman’s rogues and allies), online play, and the sort of insane amounts of additional content the people behind MK are typically known for later this month.