Game: Injustice: Gods Among Us
Platform: PS3/Xbox/Wii U
Publisher/Developer: Warner Bros/NeatherRealm
Release Date: April 16
There has never really been a great DC Universe fighter. Hell, there hasn't really been a DC fighting game since Justice League Task Force back in the 16-bit days, and that game was so bloody awful that forcing criminals to play it would probably violate the 8th Amendment. That said, NetherRealm showed us in Mortal Kombat vs. DCU that it was at least theoretically possible to give us a comic book fighter featuring Batman that would equal what Capcom did with Marvel. Now that the demos are out, how did they do without the crutch of the MK cast?
So far, pretty damn well. The demo features three playable characters, Batman, Wonder Woman and Lex Luthor in his battle armor. All three move with incredible fluidity and personality, though I hope that win quotes are more varied in the final version as the same phrases over and over again got monotonous really fast.
Playing as the super characters will be instinctive for any fan of fighters, and the fact that a detailed move list is available in the pause menu is a small but wonderful blessing for the 12-year-old inside me that remembers handwriting Scorpion's fatalities over and over again so I wouldn't forget them.
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The interactive backgrounds are a blast, and anyone who doesn't warm to the idea of hitting someone with the Bat Signal is probably dead inside. There's not much opportunity to sample the story or multilayered levels in the demo, but the basic mechanics offer a nice look at what you can expect.
On strictly technical merits, the game doesn't offer anything truly groundbreaking or original. It's Mortal Kombat with superheroes. On the other hand, IT'S MORTAL KOMBAT WITH SUPERHEROES! I suspect the game aims to get by on the long, powerful histories of these characters and on modern gaming systems' ability to bring their personalities to life in their movements. I, and I'm sure everyone else, was more than a little annoyed that Joker was denied to us, and on the hero side both Wonder Woman and Batman rely so much on "Get Over Here" moves that you really wish we'd gotten to take a stab at Flash instead.
It's a shame we're given no opportunity to try out the story mode because what little we know looks dark and compelling. The Joker tricking Superman into killing Lois Lane, a new world order that mimics the plot of Superman: Red Son, and an insurgency led by Batman promise to be the best parts of the game.
Overall, playtesting the basics is fun, but it's pretty clear the game doesn't have enough to survive on its basics alone. Once we're embroiled in the epic battle portion, I'm sure we'll be above and beyond what are essentially tweaked MK advances. Gamemaker Ed Boon has always used fantastic storytelling to overcome any staleness in the engine. Injustice is no different.