Review Platform : PC
Release Date :Nov 2013
Price : £39.99 (Steam)
While not technically a new game, having originally been released early in 2013 on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Wii U, the recent Ultimate Edition re-release brings the game to PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4 and PC for the first time. Containing the original game and the downloadable content released for it, the Ultimate Edition comes with a ton of things to do. I’d somehow missed its previous release, so I picked this up on PC shortly after release.
Developer NeverRealm Studios consists mostly of former staff of Midway games, the creators of Mortal Kombat, so are a group of people who know a lot about how to put a fighting game together and studio head Ed Boon directs the development as usual. I’ve always been a big Mortal Kombat fan (I think mostly because I was better at it than Street Fighter, being only a mediocre player instead of terrible) so I’m always optimistic when they release a new game.
Injustice consists of several modes, with a single player campaign, battles (which are essentially the arcade mode of older fighting games) single fights and the S.T.A.R.S Labs missions. Multiplayer has local and online play.
The story mode is somewhere around 7 hours long, and takes place across two separate realities. It opens with Superman killing the Joker, who had tricked him into killing Lois Lane and destroying much of Metropolis. This Superman goes on to decide that the only way the Earth can be safe is for him to rule it completely, and proceeds to take over and anyone who doesn’t side with him is hunted down and in most cases killed. Several years later, in a different reality (identified in the game as Earth Prime) Batman and several members of the Justice League are attempting to stop the Joker from setting off a bomb, when they are all transported to Earth 5, where Superman has consolidated his rule into the Regime. Earth 5’s Batman soon appears and asks for their help in taking down his Superman to save the planet.
While an evil Superman is hardly a new take on the character having been done before several times in comics and animation, the story is well presented and quite engaging. Similar to NetherRealm’s previous console game, Mortal Kombat (2011), the story is told from the perspective of several characters, each having four fights before moving on to the next. Cutscenes progress the story between fights, and there are also occasional extra bits that take the form of quick time events, following onscreen prompts to block attacks or push back an enemy that can give you a boost in the next fight if you complete them successfully.
I said earlier that I’m at best mediocre at Mortal Kombat games and Injustice had no problem with reminding me of that. While the campaign didn’t give me too much trouble until towards the end, even on medium the Battle mode proved tricky – my first play through I think I tried Superman at the end of the classic battle over a dozen times and got completely destroyed each time. I don’t even want to imagine how hard the hard difficulty is.
Aside from the ‘classic’ battle, there are a variety of different enemy selections to fight and some that have effects on gameplay like constantly draining health and attack buffs and so on.
The S.T.A.R.S. Labs section has a huge number of missions for you to play through, 300 in total. Featuring 10 for each starting character as well as some added through the DLC, getting all three starts for completing each mission with all of its objectives will take some time and skill. Most missions are a short fight against one enemy, but with the additional objectives such as pulling off a certain number of special moves or not getting hit there is quite a bit of variety. There are also some more objective based ones, an early Superman mission for example having you destroying attacking drones and rolling barrels before they harm civilians.
Controls are fairly straightforward. You block by pulling away from your attacker. X and Y are standard and heavy attacks, A is kicks and B activates various special moves or stance changes for each character. Left bumper is throw, and right bumper allows you to interact with the stage (more on that in a bit) with left and right trigger together activating the main special move. Some of the special moves are fantastic, one of my favourites being Doomsday who punches his opponent all the way through the planet, out the other side and back again. These cause massive damage but can be blocked.
As you’d expect, each character has a range of special moves which can be pulled off with specific button combinations, and these can often be chained to devastating effect. A lot of the more powerful combos require some skill to pull off, though thankfully nothing as complex as the stance shifting combos of the Deception era Mortal Kombat games that I could never really work out.
As a PC port, there is of course the option to play with a keyboard for those who’d rather not play with a pad. These are a bit odd, with the cursor keys and number pad being used. I assume this is so that two people can use a single keyboard with the second player mapped around WASD, but unless you’re using a mechanical keyboard this wouldn’t work very well anyway.
It has a lot more in common with Mortal Kombat than the previous game in the series, Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, as it sticks to the 2.5D style with the game’s 3D characters and backgrounds being constrained to a 2D plane instead of having a full 3D range of motion.
Running on a modified version of Unreal Engine 3, it’s quite a polished looking game. The stages in particular are quite impressive. As you fight and smash your opponent around, the stage will start to crumble and fall apart, with pillars falling over and things exploding and so on. You can also pick up some scenery and batter your enemy with it, activate traps or smash them through walls into other areas.
The Ultimate Edition has 30 playable characters, which includes the six DLC characters that were added to the roster. The characters you expect are all there, as well as some who are less well known outside of the comics such as Black Adam and Killer Frost, whose move set seems to have a lot of Sub Zero from Mortal Kombat in it.
I’m not however a fan of the character design of some of the cast. Both Batmans (Batmen?) have this odd cross between the Dark Night movie designs and an attempt at a more realistic take on the comic costumes that I just don’t think works (Batman Prime’s cowl in particular really looks off), and Earth 5 Superman’s bizarre red crotch costume is just.. I don’t even know what it is. Neither version of the Flash look particularly streamlined or fast, either.
The character models are well rendered despite their design however, and thankfully the Ultimate Edition comes with all of the DLC costumes meaning once you’ve finished the campaign you can have your favourite character in a range of different outfits. Most of the major characters have costumes such as their current New 52 comic outfits (a lot of which somehow look better here than they do in the comics) some classic designs and movie outfits such as Superman who has his look from the recent Man of Steel film and Green Arrow who gets his design from the Arrow TV series. There are some odd omissions, however. Most of the main cast of the Earth 2 comic have costumes in the game apart from that series’ Green Lantern Alan Scott, there’s no Dark Knight style Batman and all of the DLC characters apart from Zod (who like Superman has his Man of Steel design) don’t have any alternate costumes at all.
The huge cast of characters also means a massive range of voice actors. Many of the actors from the late 90s/early 2000s Justice League shows return to voice their characters, as well as actors from Teen Titans and other DC shows. Most notably Kevin Conroy, George Newbern and Susan Eisenberg return as Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, marking the first time all three have voiced DCs' flagship characters together since Justice League Unlimited ended. While all of the voice acting was decent, particular favourites for me are Adam Baldwin and Alan Tudyk as Green Lantern and Green Arrow respectively and J.G. Hertzler as Deathstroke who all I think totally nailed the characters.
Music is by composers Dean Grinsfelder and Christopher Drake. Grinsfelder worked on the previous Mortal Kombat game, while Drake seems to be becoming the go to guy for DC games and animation, having worked on Arkham Origins and the majority of the recent DC animated movies. It’s decent enough, but not something I’ll be hunting down a soundtrack for.
I did give multiplayer a quick try, and the netcode seems pretty good. I didn’t notice any lag or other issues, though my suckyness means that I was getting destroyed quite frequently so didn’t spend too long there.
I very much enjoyed Injustice. Much like Mortal Kombat before it, the campaign was great and the additional modes around it add a lot of replay value and extra stuff to do to keep you going for ages though you’ll probably need the patience of a saint to complete everything 100% and I don’t know if I have that in me. There is quite a lot of depth in the combat, with those less skilled like me being able to get by with standard attacks and basic combos and a wealth of more advanced techniques to learn for the pros. For any fighting game fan, particularly those who like their fighting with comics characters, this is likely a must buy.
Injustice – Gods Among Us: Ultimate Edition is out now for PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, 4 and Vita.