Who would win in a fight between Superman and Batman? The smart money would say that Superman's godly strength and resilience would shrug off anything that The Dark Knight could throw at him, but if Bruce Wayne used his considerable fortune to buy a large chunk of Kryptonite, who's to say The Man of Steel couldn't be brought to his knees with a big glowing Batarang? It's a debate which DC has explored since forever, and even today modern comic-books still pit heroes against heroes (and villains obviously!) to determine who's top of the list. Thanks to Injustice: Gods Among Us, fighting game fans can now get in on the action too.
One way Injustice stands out from the likes of Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is in its deep story. NetherRealm Studios has done an excellent job of crafting a comic-book tale that explains why Wonder Woman and The Flash are busting heads alongside Lex Luthor and the Green Lantern. Without giving too much away, The Joker manages to secure a nuclear bomb before linking the detonator to Lois Lane's heart. He then tricks Superman into thinking that Lois is Doomsday, and after Superman accidentally kills his pregnant wife, he loses all sense of compassion before placing humanity under a new world order.
It's not going to win any awards for script-writing but the seven hour story mode is strangely compelling for a fighting game. We also have to commend NetherRealm for bolstering Injustice with lots of single-player content, and when you're not playing against a friend in a normal match, the substantial S.T.A.R.S. Lab mode offers 240 missions with a wide range of dynamic objectives. Of course, this would be small comfort if the underlying fighting system made you feel more like Batboy than the Caped Crusader himself, but thanks to a careful fusion of Mortal Kombat fundamentals and Street Fighter-style innovations, Injustice feels like the real deal.
It can be hard to please both casual players and fighter fans but Injustice somehow nails the sweet spot between accessibility and depth. There are 24 characters to choose from and each one offers something different thanks to the dedicated trait button. Batman can summon a swarm of mechanical bats, the Green Lantern can charge his power ring and The Flash can activate a bullet-time effect that slows down the opponent's movements. But out of all the interesting features that Injustice brings to the table, it's the interactive objects that stand out the most. If you see a motorcycle or piano in the background, chances are you can grab it and throw it.
Justice For All
The one area where Injustice falls slightly short is the online functionality. The Xbox 360 and PS3 versions feature the usual compliment of ranked and casual modes in addition to lobbies that can be customised for your individual needs, but in terms of providing a smooth and noticeably lag-free gameplay experience, the netcode is more adequate than excellent. It's definitely not as poor as the Mortal Kombat reboot from 2011 but it's still a long way off the class-leading smoothness of Tekken Tag Tournament 2 or BlazBlue: Continuum Shift. A few players will also be disappointed by the lack of a save option for replays.
On all other accounts, though, Injustice is a quality product that generously caters for a wide range of players. If you're a straight-up comic-book fan that just wants to pick Nightwing before wiping the snooty sneer off Sinestro's face, then Injustice offers significant mileage without the need for another player. But if you're a hardcore gamer that wants to learn the intricacies of your chosen character before taking the online competition by storm, then Injustice has the depth to keep you coming back for more. And with a level playing-field, you may even find that the ultimate DC powerhouse isn't Superman or Batman after all.
GAME's Verdict: 8.5/10
- Over 20 characters to play
- Tells a surprisingly good tale
- Harley Quinn looks great
- Online is a bit hit and miss
- Plays it a bit safe in places
- Needs more Swamp Thing