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Injustice: Gods Among Us Preview

Currently available to download is the Injustice: Gods Among Us demo, a taster of what’s to come on April 19th when the game hits the shelves here in the UK. And what’s to come looks good, albeit a little unoriginal.

Injustice, for those of you out of the loop, is a fighting game featuring characters from the DC Universe of comic books. It comes from NetherRealm, the creators of Mortal Kombat and Mortal Kombat Vs DC Universe, so if you’ve ever played either of those games you should already know largely what to expect, as the gameplay, whilst introducing some nice new elements to the fold, remains familiar territory.

The bone-crunching uppercuts from Mortal Kombat remain, as does charging your meter until you can simply hold LT+RT / L2+R2 to fire off a devastating super move, decimating your opponent. Now, though, the sadistically satisfying X-Ray attacks from Mortal Kombat have been replaced with a more straightforward, character specific special move. Lex Luthor’s robot suit from MKvDC remains too – has he ever owned a robot suit? I thought he was just the President these days…

A new edition is the Charge system, a head-to-head wager in the heat of battle. At some stage late in particular fights, only when yourself or your opponent has lost one of your two health bars, will your characters have a stand-off and give you a moment to wager some of your power bar on the outcome of the clash. The more you wager the more likely you are to win (you only need to wager more than your opponent) and deal some moderate damage, but you lose that portion of the bar which could be better spent putting power behind combos and dealing even more damage.

The DC Universe roster of characters available may deter some from the game, as DC is Marvel’s more anonymous -albeit grittier - cousin. With Marvel releasing film after film for the big screen, Joe Average could probably name a fair few Marvel characters, possibly even 24 to make up the number of characters available in Injustice. But can anyone name even close to 24 DC characters off the top of their heads? Beyond the big ticket names in Injustice is a well of anonymity if you’re not really into your comics.

But prepare yourselves to be converted as the characters available are a great selection. Sure, many players will select Batman and Superman from the off, but some truly classic powerhouses like unkillable zombie Solomon Grundy and steroidy-terrorist Bane are available too. More identifiable heroes and villains will be making appearances too, but only as cameos, be it in the background on certain stages or in the S.T.A.R. Labs missions.

S.T.A.R. Labs is a mode mirroring the excellent Challenge Tower from Mortal Kombat, a wealth of individual fights or mini-games which will keep you busy for weeks. If it’s anything like the Challenge Tower, expect fun, character-driven, occasionally handicapped fights, ingenious mini-games and a slowly increasing sense of difficulty. S.T.A.R. Labs promises 240 individual missions, with more to follow as DLC. The Challenge Tower was my personal favourite aspect of Mortal Kombat so even though it’s not an original idea, it’s fantastic news that it’s being kept on in Injustice.

Injustice’s Story Mode looks set to be conducted in the same style as its two predecessors – as the overall story plays out you control several of the game's characters for a few fights at a time as their own respective segments of the story play out.

For me, this approach to fighting games is great for learning every character’s moves rather than simply playing through Arcade mode a few times, ignoring the less popular characters and never learning their movesets. This forces you to learn to play the game as a whole, and you’re treated to a story as your reward. The actual story in MKvDC was ridiculous. Absolute nonsense. But Mortal Kombat’s was surprisingly engaging and mindful of their fanbase, so here’s hoping they’ve expanded upon this and pulled out all the stops comic book fanboys expect in Injustice.

Throw into this promising mix a tangible environment system (using background objects as weapons), multi-tiered levels and stonkingly good graphics (Unreal Engine strikes again), and Injustice: Gods Among Us looks set to be a hit. Whether it is good enough to convert non-fighting game fans, non-Mortal Kombat fans or non-DC Comics fans remains to be seen.

If you have an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad, you can already download a scaled-down, alternative version for free from the App Store, just beware of paying real money to advance the game quickly if you’re too impatient to unlock all the characters.

Roister Doister | 11th April, 2013

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