Game review by Steve Cullum
Game – Injustice: Gods Among Us
Version – Wii U Retail (Original Price of $59.99)
Rating – T for Teen
Obtained – Review Code from Warner Bros. Interactive
What happens when many DC Comics’ characters come together? Often, they are able to combine their efforts to save the world. However, when someone corrupts Superman and an alternate dimension is opened, everything goes awry. Injustice: Gods Among Us takes a look at such a world, where the lines between good and evil are blurred, and you must fight to save the world from ultimate destruction. This sounds like a good plot for a movie, but what about a video game?
Story and Plot
First and foremost, Injustice is a fighting game. Normally, this means there is very little storyline or plot. However, that is not the case here. In addition to fighting random battles online and locally, you can also dive into a story. Each of the 12 chapters lets you take on the persona of a different character. You will start off as Batman, but after a few fights from his point-of-view, you will switch to another character. The story progresses by following this basic pattern: cutscene, fight, cutscene, fight, cutscene, etc. Occasionally, you will have a take part in a “quick-time” event, but these are not even essential to win. In fact, if you do not do well in those, the only thing you miss out on is some of your life-bar in the following fight. In fact, if you do not win the fight, you will have full health on your next attempt. Overall, the story is solid, but it will leave you feeling a bit confused from time to time. Although, this may be what is intended, as to put you in the shoes of each character. Most of them are quite confused as to what is happening as well.
Other than the main story, there are a few other game modes. One is the tutorial, which walks you through both basic and advanced controls. A look to MiiVerse told me that I was not the only one having issues with some of the combos in the tutorial, so be aware when you get to that point. The good thing is that you can always manually skip that section. Battle Mode is a basic one-on-one fight with the computer, Versus Mode allows you to fight another human via local or online, and S.T.A.R. Labs puts you in 240 character-specific challenges. All the while, you can unlock new features, alternate costumes, icons for your “Hero Card,” concept art, and more, just by progressing through the games’ various modes. In a nutshell, Injustice is a basic fighting game with a decent storyline thrown in for good measure.
The game includes most of the popular DC Comics’ characters. Out of the box (or download), these include Aquaman, Ares, Ban, Batman, Black Adam, Catwoman, Cyborg, Deathstroke, Doomsday, Flash, Green Arrow, Green Lantern, Harley Quinn, Hawkgirl, Joker, Killer Frost, Lex Luthor, Nightwing, Raven, Shazam, Sinestro, Solomon Grundy, Superman, and Wonder Woman. Additional characters, costumes, and more are promised through upcoming downloadable-content (DLC).
Gameplay and Controls
As far as gameplay goes, Injustice does not change it up entirely, but it does throw a few extras in that make it different from others in its genre. For example, with others moving to two or three characters in a tag-team match, Injustice goes back to the one-on-one style. Further, many of the stages are interactive. While it is mostly a two-dimensional game, you can occasionally send your opponent into the background of a stage or even hit them so hard that they fly into an entirely different part of the stage. As you play, your super meter will charge up. While portions of the meter allow a player to perform harder hits, a fully charged meter is used to unleash a special attack. These moves are automatic (after you execute it) and over-the-top. The only setback is that they are only available once per match, so you must time it wisely. Another feature allows players to compete in wagers during a Clash. After losing a full health bar, a player can interrupt an opponent’s combo and enter into a wager sequence, where each player commits a portion of their remaining health bar. The winner gets their opponent’s health, which could end up changing the results of a match.
Controlling your character works almost how you would expect on Wii U. You can use either the GamePad or the Pro Controller, and both operate similarly. Either the left analog stick and control pad can be used for player movement, the face buttons are used for attacks and character traits, and the shoulder buttons provide for various special moves and grabs. The only thing missing that other Wii U fighters possess is a set of quick combos via the GamePad touch screen. However, you can choose to have a constant list of combos on the screen for quick reference. For the “hard-core,” this is probably a welcome ommision. For the novice, it only means you will have to actually commit your favorite moves to memory or learn to read them quickly during a match. Other than that, though, the game controls very well.
Injustice, as mentioned earlier, does contain an online mode, and it is quite solid. You can enter into basic matches with random opponents, or you can step up to the ranked fights. There, you can participate in a basic match, or you can take a chance to be “King of the Hill” or the “Survivor.” A glaring omission is the ability to play against those on your friend list. At the time, only random battles are allowed. Something also missing from the game is the ability to connect the game to the iOS game, which is supposed to allow for further unlockable items. This feature is allowed on the other two versions of the game – XBOX360 and PS3. (I reached out to WBIE on these two “missing” modes, but I did not receive any comments.)
Graphics and Sound
Injustice runs at a solid 60 frames-per-second, and it rarely drops below that. Because of this, every character movement is very smooth. The stages and characters prove they were given a large amount of attention. The transition between cutscenes and fights is rather painless, but you will notice a change in color and saturation. For example, a character’s skin color may change. This is not a big deal, but it is noticeable. Other than that, the game looks very good. Nevertheless, it could look better. You will sometimes notice the rare “jaggy” and the odd way a character walks. Overall, the design could have been pushed to a higher definition. You will be very satisfied, but some may wonder why they did not push it further.
Injustice does what many Wii U fans hope for, in that it provides for off-TV play. This means that the entire game can be played solely on the GamePad, without the need for turning on one’s TV. Sure, the graphics are not going to be in high definition, but they do look great on the small SD screen. In fact, I played half of the story mode on the GamePad, and I did not mind it at all. I actually preferred it, because it was nice to kick back and relax with just the GamePad in hand.
The music fits like a hand in a glove. Every menu, fight, and cutscene have just the right music to set the stage. Similarly, the sound effects are done well. In many fighting games, you will hear the same collection of three or four sounds over and over again. Injustice varies it, and it all comes together for a solid performance. I never felt as if I was listening to a broken record of sound effects. The same goes for the voice-acting of each character. They all seem to fit very together perfectly. Further, they all fit well in the style of the game. Injustice also allows for voice-chat in online matches. As of this review, I only played one person who seemed to use it, and they were very muffled. The only other negative found, in regards to music and sound, was that the volume level coming out of the GamePad were significantly lower than of any other game or mode (i.e. MiiVerse, Web Browser, Friend List). Even with headphones, and the volume all the way up, there was a vast difference.
Final Score: 8.5 out of 10
Injustice: Gods Among Us is a solid fighter on the Wii U. The developers at NetherRealm (Mortal Kombat) did a great job of bringing in gameplay, controls, and a good storyline. While it does lack in a few areas, the overall package is strong. If you are a DC Comics fan and enjoy a good 2D fighter, look no further than Injustice: Gods Among Us.
+ Good storyline
+ Many different game modes
+ Music, sound effects, and voices
+ Smooth gameplay and graphics, even online
+ Variety of characters with differing moves
+ Load times are rare, but when they happen, they are quick
– Missing friend-matches
– Missing iOS connection features
– Low volume from GamePad