Fighting games and superheroes go hand in hand. Superheroes like pummeling the bad guys, and supervillains love making their arch-enemies eat dirt. Injustice: Gods Among Us Ultimate Edition is no different.
As far as fans go, we like to button mash our way to victory, whether it’s on the side of good or evil. Injustice: Gods Among Us Ultimate Edition is chock full of fanservice, whether for comic, superhero/supervillain, or fighter fans. It’s an excellent entry to the world of DC Universe games, and packs a wallop with plenty of content and honors to chase for hardcore players. It does encounter some hiccups, but overall it’s an exciting fighting game with DC favorites and a narrative to keep players engaged. It worked quite well as a console release, and it dazzles on the PS Vita as well.
The story centers around a post-Superman-gone crazy world. After mistakenly murdering Lois Lane and his unborn child (long story – just read the companion comic series or play the game), Supes has gone insane, and has taken it upon himself to form a sort of totalitarian government. Under him are several DC characters, some of which believe in his radical new ideas and some of whom mean to overtake him so things can go back to normal. It’s a regular who’s who of comics, with even a few obscure characters making powerful cameos that can be unexpected. The story mode has an intriguing narrative and several twists that are really best left for players to explore, so that won’t be discussed in the interest of avoiding spoilers.
What you really need to know is how the fighting itself plays out. This is a game from NetherRealm Studios, who brought us the surprisingly excellent Mortal Kombat remake, which felt smooth, brutal, and just as great as many of the classic MK titles, if not better. Injustice is a modified version that doesn’t feel quite as smooth, but offers a simplified combo system that rewards certain actions and makes it pretty simple to unleash the flashy moves you’ve been coveting from the trailers and promotional materials. There’s a satisfying wealth of heroes to play as, running the gamut between Batman, Joker, and Harley Quinn to Aquaman, Shazam, and Raven.
Each hero and villain is outfitted with their own special arsenal of moves tailored to their “style” as a character. For instance, Batman can send a Batmobile careening down the middle of the stage to knock an opponent to the ground. It should actually shatter all the bones in their body and/or cause irreparable damage to human opponents, but that’s another conversation. In the same vein, why aren’t any human contenders dying without oxygen in the vacuum of space or burning up upon re-entry to the atmosphere after Superman’s special? Some of them are flashier than others, almost as if audience interest was gauged on who would want to play as who more, but they’re all still pretty fun to pull off.
While there’s a decent amount of variety between the different fighters, the fighting styles do tend to be a little similar in execution. Special moves look great, but they don’t really take that much damage. Wagers in the middle of the battle can turn the tides in your favor, but they’re not revolutionary or particularly interesting. What you’re going to gravitate to are the potential for epic showdowns between your favorite characters and their interactions with each other, whether in story mode or one-off scuffles. You really get a sense of each character’s personality, which is rarely explored properly in fighters, and it shines through very admirably in Injustice.
The “Ultimate Edition” moniker pays off in that Vita adopters get STAR Lab Missions as well as all of the DLC previously available for console version owners. In truth, there’s not a boatload of content to speak of, though buyers who pick up this version instead of the console edition will no doubt be doing so to pad their fighting game collection on Sony’s flagship handheld, and it’ll be a cheaper endeavor as well that loses none of the polish of the original.
Graphically and mechanically it leaves a little to be desired. Injustice: Gods Among Us is in no way perfect, but it’s got spunk and attitude. It’s got a gripping story and a multitude of game modes to keep players occupied long after the brief story mode, taking the show online and in versus modes or special missions to augment the robust set of standard fighting game options. Even with its noticeable similarities – and crucial differences – to the Mortal Kombat franchise, this DC Comics-based fighter is just different enough to set itself apart from the rest of the pack of superhero tie-ins out there, and that’s reason enough to give it a chance.
Rating: 7.5/10 (Vita)
Images: Warner Bros. Entertainment