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'Injustice: Gods Among Us' review (PS3): Comic capers at their finest

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Released on Saturday, Apr 20 2013

Injustice: Gods Among Us Catwoman

© Warner Bros

Catwoman in Injustice: Gods Among Us


Release Date: April 16 (North America), April 19 (Europe)
Platforms available on: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U
Publisher: Warner Bros
Genre: Fighting

DC Comics fever is about to reach new heights with Zack Snyder's Man of Steel movie around the corner, so Warner Bros and NetherRealm Studios couldn't have picked a better time to launch their superhero-themed brawler Injustice: Gods Among Us.

The hype surrounding Superman's next cinematic outing will certainly work in the game's favour, but this isn't close to being a cash-in.

Mortal Kombat studio NetherRealm has attempted to right the wrongs of the modern fighting genre by providing in-depth mechanics without compromising storyline, and it has been largely successful in achieving this goal.

Injustice: Gods Among Us Aquaman

© Warner Bros

Aquaman floods the battlefield



Injustice: Gods Among Us appears to be little more than NetherRealm's 2011 Mortal Kombat reboot with superhero character skins at first glance, but the game comes loaded with additional gameplay features that really set it apart, not to mention a more cinematic storyline that draws from decades of DC Comics lore.

A story campaign serves as the centrepiece of the single-player experience, taking place in an alternate version of the DC Universe where the Joker has teamed up with Lex Luthor to deceive Superman into killing Lois Lane, who was carrying his unborn child, and destroying Metropolis.
    Mortal Kombat studio NetherRealm has attempted to right the wrongs of the modern fighting genre by providing in-depth mechanics without compromising storyline, and it has been largely successful in achieving this goal.
Overcome by guilt, the Last Son of Krypton murders the Joker in cold blood and goes on to appoint himself as omnipotent ruler of Earth, with members of the Justice League enforcing his regime.

In the hope of overthrowing Superman's dictatorship, Batman summons alternate versions of DC Comics' iconic heroes from another dimension where the Joker's plan was foiled.

It's an engaging story that draws inspiration from numerous sources, including classic comic book arcs Crisis on Infinite Earths and Kingdom Come, the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy, and Rocksteady Studios' popular Arkham video games.

'Injustice: Gods Among Us' screenshot

Delivering a hefty kick.



These influences are weaved together into one fan-pleasing package that isn't afraid to turn a few shades darker when necessary.

Superman's role as a villain of sorts might not sit well with some fans, but it's interesting to see a new take on the iconic hero, albeit one that isn't the best fit for him.

You have to look outside of the fighting genre for a more gripping plot, but storytelling is merely part of what's on offer in Injustice: Gods Among Us.

Robust combat mechanics are of greater importance in a game of this nature, so it's just as well the developers have brought innovation on this front too.



Injustice: Gods Among Us plays not unlike an evolved version of the Mortal Kombat reboot. Battles no longer pan out across the traditional two rounds, with combatants sporting dual health bars instead.

Players retain what was remaining on their initial gauge when their opponent has been worn down to their back-up health bar, and the result of this is fairer fights, with the overall winner being the combatant who was more consistent throughout the bout.

The exclusion of a dedicated block button is another deviation from the established formula. Players must now press backwards or down to ward off blows in what feels like a nod to the Street Fighter series.

This adds an additional layer of strategy, since players must anticipate which direction their opponent is striking from and react accordingly.

'Injustice: Gods Among Us' screenshot

Cyborg enters the fray



Meter management plays a substantial role in Injustice: Gods Among Us.

There's a rage meter of sorts that is tied to a devastating special attack, capable of stripping a sizeable chunk from your foe's heath bar. These are both over-the-top and jaw-dropping in equal measure.

Batman summons the Batmobile to mow down his adversary, Aquaman floods the arena and sets a shark upon his assailant, and Green Lantern conjures up a fleet of fighter jets using his power ring.

They are always spectacles, but their usage often feels unfair considering they are virtually unblockable.

The Clash system can be used as a method of interrupting combos. When this is activated during battles, players are asked to offer up portions of their rage meter in secret, with the highest bidder coming out on top.

The defending player's health is replenished if they come out on top, but they take further damage if they lose.

'Injustice: Gods Among Us' screenshot

Nightwing brings the pain,



The developers have gone all out where the combat arenas are concerned. From Aquaman's throne room in Atlantis to Superman's Fortress of Solitude, NetherRealm has certainly done its homework when bringing the DC Universe to life.

Stages are more interactive than Mortal Kombat fans have become accustomed to.

Ploughing your opponent through a wall to gain access to a new part of the level is nothing new, but arenas in Injustice: Gods Among Us are littered with usable items, from grenades in the Batcave to stone tables in Aquaman's lair.
    There's plenty to love about Injustice: Gods Among Us, especially if you are a comic book fan.
The option to use the surrounding environment against your opponent adds to the sense of strategy.

Some players will even find that they become adept in using specific levels to their advantage, and may even adopt them as a kind of home turf when competing online.

There's no shortage of single-player content on offer in Injustice: Gods Among Us. The story mode offers around 50 fights, and once you are done with that, there's the arcade-centric Battles option and the S.T.A.R. Labs series of mini-games.

'Injustice: Gods Among Us' - new villain Killer Croc

© Twitter / @noobde

Killer Croc tangles with The Flash



S.T.A.R. Labs is the game's version of Mortal Kombat's Challenge Tower, with a whopping 240 character-specific challenges to play through. Many of these are as trivial as pulling off a specific combo, but the unlockable bonuses on offer are worth the time invested.

There are few surprises in store when you venture online, with the usual assortment of ranked and practise bouts on offer. Mortal Kombat's online setup lagged behind its contemporaries and was bogged down by input latency.

Little has been done to refine the system here, but it's far from broken; just be prepared for a stutter here and there and the occasional disconnection.

There's plenty to love about Injustice: Gods Among Us, especially if you are a comic book fan. The game combines a compelling story with polished fighting mechanics and some genuine innovation.

While there are better options out there for online play, NetherRealm's effective use of the licence at its disposal will help it attract a huge fanbase.


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