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PLATFORM: Xbox 360 (reviewed), PS3, PC
ESRB RATING: M
PUBLISHER: Warner Bros. Interactive
How do game developers get around the concept that Superman is essentially unharmable in combat unless kryptonite or magic is involved? At the same time, I understand there are plenty of instances where Superman’s been knocked down a few pegs by villains and members of The Justice League. I’ve always been curious to see how The Justice League would handle a Superman gone mad.
To start the game off, do I go obvious and choose Batman or Superman? I decided to go with someone who is perhaps the worst hand to hand fighter in the game, character-wise. Someone any member of the DC Universe wouldn’t have difficulty with in hand to hand combat – The Joker. Unfortunately, this decision would mean nothing once the game was underway.
I skipped the training when I failed to counter grapples, thinking I wouldn’t want to rely on getting in close, should this game play anything like the nightmarishly bad Mortal Kombat VS DC.
The game opens with a demolished Metropolis. Millions are dead. Not unlike the catastrophe in MK VS DC. Kevin Conroy and George Newbern play Batman and Superman respectfully. Superman, in a rage over the death of Lois Lane and his son, roughs The Joker up, and delivers that infamous punch to his midsection (illustrated below, terribly). An alternate universe where Superman rules supreme, Injustice sees heroes fighting heroes.
I just want to point out that even though Tim Daly is my favorite Superman voice actor, George Newbern does a fantastic job, as well. If he’s the go-to guy for Superman that the DC Animated Universe relies on, I’m good with that. In fact, I’m pretty happy with the entire cast. Adam Baldwin as Green Lantern is a nice choice, as is Mark Rolston as Lex Luthor. Alan Tudyk also makes a great Green Arrow.
The game itself isn’t on a “3d” plane like MK or MK VS DC. It’s a strict 2d brawler with beautiful 3d backgrounds and environment. Breaking up the combat (which isn’t as sticky as MK VS DC) are strange button mashing minigames (for lack of a better term) or QTEs that have an effect on the match. For instance, lobbing batarangs at an approaching Lex Luthor reduces his health for your ensuing fight.
Knocking an enemy around the environment is a blast. Arkham Asylum, in particular, is a fun one, as is the Watchtower. It’s neat watching as a character spirals into the depths of the Batcave, smashing into rocks and metallic structures along the way.
Each character has a super move they can execute once a bar fills up. My favorite has to be Aquaman’s, simply for the fact that he utilizes a great white shark to chomp down on an opponent. I actually laughed out loud when I saw the animation.
The heroes’ designs are all very cool, their “armor” or “suits” are angular, somewhat, but it gives the impression that these people are somewhat harm able. Superman’s outfit is particularly cool. I don’t read the New 52, so I don’t know what he wears now, but he looks like a boss. A very regal look for Earth’s most powerful champion.
One thing that stuck out was how surprisingly clever the writing is. The Joker is scary and funny, Batman is suitably dark and calculating, Superman is both heroic and enigmatic. It works. What is obviously an enormous and difficult story ends up working for the most part because the developers aren’t afraid to let the game’s narrative take its time to unfold.
We’ve seen a lot of violence toward women in gaming lately. Lara Croft nearly gets raped. Elizabeth in Bioshock Infinite is experimented on and tortured, even though she’s essentially the hero of the piece. In Injustice, The Joker, in one sequence, slaps Harley Quinn to put her in her place. Granted, he’s a sociopath, but this bizarre anti-woman trend is strange to me.
I’m not sure what happened between my nights spent playing the game. What started as relative domination turned into a nightmare as I played as Wonder Woman, Batman and Superman to finish the game’s narrative. After a series of disappointing endings, I was very pleased with Injustice‘s. In Classic Battle mode, every character has their own ending, which is akin to the traditional MK titles we’re accustomed to. In the main narrative, certain characters get their moments in the sun while others play strong supporting roles, but in the end, Injustice is an absolute blast for the comic fan looking for a dark, well-written narrative starring their favorite Justice League superstars.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars