“Warning: Spoilers below! Beware!”
The story of Injustice explores a sobering hypothetical in the Superman universe: what would happen if everything was taken from Superman right before his eyes, making him feel powerless? This setup is a very interesting and imaginative look at the character and how Superman, a character who is very central to the DC universe, affects it as a whole. This is the premise for what is arguably the best selling point of this game, the story. And it definitely delivers on that front.
The plot centers around Batman and Lex Luthor leading a small insurgency against a despotic superman, who’s established a totalitarian government run by super heroes and villains. Batman enlists the aid of five other DC heroes from another dimension where Superman didn’t go evil. Players control these heroes, in addition to a number of other heroes and villains that join Batman’s side during the course of the story. Players will generally fight about four times per hero controlled, before switching to another hero.
The plot is paced very well. It includes a surprising number of twists that may shock some DC fans who play the game, especially those who’ve been following along with the outstanding lead-up comic book. It also features a substantive amount of character development for a handful of characters. Harley Quinn, in particular, gets a surprisingly large amount of screen time. She’s never a controllable character, though, so her development ultimately feels wasted by the end of the game.
Harley Quinn is a good example of the narrative’s greatest weakness: there is so much going on that important plot threads are left unresolved by the end of the story. The other big problem is the number of characters the game tries to juggle. Many of them don’t seem to have a plot purpose, like Hawkgirl or Raven, and are included for purely nostalgic purposes.
The storytelling is still skillful, however. Cutscenes are very concise and to-the-point, for example, flowing very well into each fight while still conveying the story. The fighting itself is very fun, and easy for those who are new to fighting games to learn and play. The combos work well and help fill up the power meter, which can be used in a variety of ways. For example, players can use a section of the power meter to make a particular attack more potent. Players could also use it in the new wager system, in which both combatants challenge each other in a miniature dual to either regain health or deal extra damage. Finally, players can use the power meter to, when it’s full, execute super moves, which deal massive damage to enemies and look really amazing.
The interactivity of the environments is another fun aspect of game. Fighting games have had multilevel stages before, but the ones in Injustice still remain a cool way of dealing massive damage to opponents. In addition to stage transitions, there is also player-controlled environmental effects, which deal damage to enemies with the push of a button.
Control-wise, the game forsakes the traditional high, medium, and low attack buttons in favor of a heavy, medium, light attack buttons that make combos easier to understand. As for the fighters themselves, each one gets a special ability that can be activated by a single button push, and each of these abilities is unique to that character and their power set. Some are entirely different move sets (like Wonder Women), and others are temporary buffs that can be recharged – it depends on the character. This leads some characters, particularly ranged characters, to be little overpowered when they spam the ranged moves, but there are ways around that.
After you beat their is still plenty to do in the game. There are various arcade style gauntlets to go and fight your way through. There is also 240 STAR labs missions to get through in an attempt to earn all 720 stars by completing special challenges with in the missions. There is also an online mode for those who want to take their skills online with many fun modes like king of the hill. Also a local arena where you can play against your friends for bragging rights.
Injustice provides a very fun and interesting DC universe adventure, and provides an excellent fighting game for those who just want to watch super heroes beat each other up in incredibly entertaining ways. At the same time, the story is compelling enough and the content extensive enough to justify the $60 price tag.