Tag Archive: Injustice: Gods Among Us


Introduction

There were a lot of good games in 2013. For me, however, there weren’t a lot of great games, ones that were clearly head and shoulders above the pack and got me excited every time I talked about them.Aside from some Nintendo titles, the end of the year was surprisingly dull, due to the less-than-stellar launch lineups of the PS4 and Xbox One. Because of that, half my list is comprised of games that surprisingly came from the first six months of 2013. But when I look back, these are the five games I’d sit down and play again more than any others. Enjoy!

Ray’s Top Five Games for 2013

#05: Fire Emblem: Awakening

Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Intelligent Systems
Platforms: 3DS

Ray’s Take

Until Marth and Roy made their appearance in Super Smash Bros. Melee, I’d never heard of Fire Emblem, since it had only been released in Japan at that point. I personally didn’t get into the series until Path of Radiance a few years later, but since then, I’ve been hooked. The story and strategy is everything I could ever want from a game, and Awakening miraculously finds a way to raise what was already a high bar. Elements like character customization are also introduced to the States for the first time here, and pairing units adds another nuance that can’t be ignored when playing.

#04: Remember Me

Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Dontnod Entertainment
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC

Ray’s Take

Some games take you by surprise so much that you can’t help but fall in love with them. Remember Me is one of those games for me. From futuristic high rises that pierce the clouds to the seedy sewers comprising Neo-Paris’ underbelly, Nilin’s world pulled me in, with no small effort from our dear protagonist herself. The unique memory remixes and combo-creation gameplay elements stoked my fire as I spent way too much time exploring every second of people’s pasts or playing with my Pressens in the Combo Lab.

#03: Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Platforms: Xbox One, PS4, Wii U, Xbox 360, PS3, PC

Ray’s Take

Few games were able to just straight up impress me more than Assassin’s Creed IV did this year. The amount of freedom I felt on the open sea was unparalleled, and I’d lose hours on end just boarding enemy ships or diving beneath the waves to unearth some long-sunken treasure. I’m genuinely amazed at the progress made between this and Assassin’s Creed III, and I’m of the opinion that Black Flag is the best Assassin’s Creed since we first met Ezio back in Assassin’s Creed II.

#02: Injustice: Gods Among Us

Publisher:Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Developer: NetherRealm Studios
Platforms: PS4, Wii U, Xbox 360, PS3, PS Vita, PC

Ray’s Take

I have to play a lot of games over the course of a given year. I’m not complaining, but the only bad thing about this is that I rarely can find the time to go back to the games I truly enjoy. The one game I constantly found myself coming back to when I did find the time, however, was Injustice. I loved the story, I loved the mechanics, and I even loved playing online with other people—an activity that usually has me smashing controllers and living-room furniture left and right.

#01: The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
Platforms: 3DS

Ray’s Take

A Link Between Worlds is simply the best handheld Zelda game ever. Sorry, Link’s Awakening, but your 20-year title reign is at an end. The subtle changes to the classic Zelda formula, like having all the items at the beginning of the game, admittedly took some getting used to. But in the end, none of those changes stopped me from enjoying the game—and I couldn’t put my 3DS down until the adventure was over. In regards to the greatest Zelda games ever conversation, I wouldn’t put A Link Between Worlds past A Link to the Past or Ocarina of Time, but it’s not far off either.

Ray’s Off-Topic Awards for 2013

The Razor Ramon Award for Best Bad Guy
Jacob Danik
A lot of games this year tried to offer up some shades of gray to the black-and-white conflicts we normally expect. And while plot twists and grandiose questions about morality are fun, sometimes you just want someone you can hate. A bad guy you love because he’s bad. This year had a few candidates, but in the end, I chose Jacob Danik from Dead Space 3. He was a religious zealot willing to sacrifice the entire human race for what he believed to be salvation, and Simon Templeman played him brilliantly, projecting a cold ruthlessness akin to space itself.
Popsicle’s “The Colors, Duke! The Colors!” Award for Most Colorful Game
Super Mario 3D World
This one’s become sort of a tradition, so I figured I should continue it. It was a close call between several games this year, but I had to go with Super Mario 3D World. This particular Mario outing may have been a bit too easy and a bit too short for my tastes, but there’s no denying how gorgeous it was because of the variety of levels Mario was able to traverse for the first time in full HD. From purple ponds of poison and snowcapped summits down to the shine on the buttons of Mario’s overalls, a Mario game has never looked so good.
The Best Co-Op Gaming with Your Girlfriend Award
BattleBlock Theater
I play a fair amount of games with my girlfriend, but she only ends up happy that she joined in on a few of them. So, I figured I’d give a little recognition to the game she had the most fun co-op marathoning this year: BattleBlock Theater. She still talks about that game to this day, and it remains the only game where it’s OK to tell your significant other to go kill themselves, as we’d often sacrifice one another on floor spikes to serve as makeshift platforms to get across gaps.

Stop reading my mind, Ed Boon!

I am, admittedly, a creature of habit. I spend 6.8 percent of my day thinking of friends and loved ones, 9.4 percent of my day thinking about what I’m going to eat for lunch and dinner, and the remaining 83.8 percent of my day thinking about comic-book “What Ifs?” Would Bane be able to go toe-to-toe with Solomon Grundy? Could Green Arrow ever stand up to Superman? Could Shazam, Earth’s Mightiest Mortal, strike down Ares? Could Nightwing surpass his teacher and beat down Batman? Now, NetherRealm Studios has provided me with an outlet for my musings that’s so perfect, so tailor-made for geeks like me, that there’s only one possible explanation: Ed Boon is psychic.

Potential clairvoyance aside, Injustice: Gods Among Us looks to answer many of those questions that I ponder daily by taking 24 of the DC Universe’s most infamous heroes and villains and pitting them against each other in a 2.5D fighter. Building off the foundation of NetherRealm’s last outing, the 2011 Mortal Kombat reboot, Injustice offers a bevy of modes that provide more depth than most other fighters in both its single player and multiplayer menus.

Being the massive comic-book fan that I am, I was initially drawn to the single-player story mode. We open with the revelation that the Joker has committed the unthinkable—he’s detonated a nuke in Metropolis, annihilating the entire populace, including everyone that Superman knows and loves. We then follow the fallout from this horrendous incident as Superman is pushed past a line he never knew existed.

The story unfolds across nearly 50 fights and a handful of minigames—ranging from button-prompt challenges and “Test Your Might”-style button-mashing marathons—through a dozen chapters, each marked by the player taking the helm of a new hero or villain. These are linked together then by gorgeous cutscenes that set the stage for a conflict of the most epic proportions, all as Injustice’s story hits notes reminiscent of some of DC’s most thrilling comic arcs from days gone by. And it even finds an interesting way to explain how the likes of the Joker and Batman can so easily go against Superman and Green Lantern.

But the story mode barely even scratches the surface of the depth this game offers. If you’re more an old-school arcade ladder fan, then Battles mode offers you plenty of options. Not only is there a classic mode where you get a short cutscene tailored to each character after you best 10 different enemies, but there are dozens of stipulations you can select from to add to your challenge. Want to face off against the whole roster? How about doing it with a single lifebar? Or maybe you want a series of mirror matches? These are just a few of the plethora of other challenges available in Battles mode and that’ll keep this disc warm in your system for hours.

But wait! There’s even more! Continuing to build off that Mortal Kombat foundation I mentioned earlier, Injustice also includes S.T.A.R. Labs, a spandexed twist on Mortal Kombat‘s popular Challenge Tower mode that provides each individual character with 10 unique missions that offer a variety of gameplay situations that deviate from the standard fighter formula—all while still providing a fun and interesting set of challenge parameters.

And if that weren’t enough, you’ve got the local and online multiplayer, with the online offering not only your standard ranked 1-on-1 scenarios, but also King of the Hill, where you can enter a queue in a room of fighters and watch other matches take place, or Survivor, where your lifebar and character selection carries over in each match.

Now, I know what you’re saying. If you’re a fighting-game fan like me, you know that a game could have a story from the likes of Marv Wolfman or Frank Miller and have 100 modes that are as deep and well thought out as the ones I’ve described in Injustice, but if it doesn’t handle well, it’s all for naught. The gameplay itself has to be there, the combos have to flow smoothly, and the fighting can’t get dull or boring.

This happens to be where Injustice shines like the Brightest Day.

The thing that surprised me the most was the removal of the traditional rounds we see in most other fighters. Taking a page out of the comics Injustice is inspired by, most monumental bouts between superhero and villain heavyweights will just continue non-stop. In order to embody this idea, Injustice gives every fighter two lifebars, with only a small pause in the action signifying someone has lost their first life bar and a new “round” is then starting. I admit, I was skeptical of this gimmick, but after only a few fights, it became a natural part of the conflict for me. The old premise of rounds was almost completely wiped from my memory as new strategies formed to take advantage of this inventive new wrinkle.

After putting several more matches in, I didn’t see, but I felt the combos flowing like Aquaman riding the surf, as it was easier than ever to pull off some ridiculously long hit combinations, especially with quicker characters like Harley Quinn or Nightwing. As anyone who’s been pinned against an invisible arena walls until the match is over knows, though, this isn’t necessarily a good thing. To balance this, there are a couple of new ways to counter or interrupt these combos and give you a chance to deliver your own punishing pounding.

The power meter system, another Mortal Kombat element, returns to allow players to pump up their special attacks. A full meter allows for the amazing, over-the-top specials that decimate opponents when they hit, but it also acts as a currency for moves called Clashes. A Clash is when a player decides to initiate a forced confrontation with his opponent and gambles some of his special meter. Depending on how much you gamble and who initiates the Clash, you can instantly cause huge damage to your opponent or heal a large chunk of your lifebar. These Clashes, when used properly, can very easily turn a match if not careful. Several times, my opponent and I were down to less than half of our last lifebars when one of us hit a Clash, regained a third of our health, and were able to ride this late boost to victory.

The most ingenious additions to the gameplay, though, are the interactive environments. Across 15 different levels—most with multiple transitions to different sections of the world—you can interact with the background and drop surprisingly powerful attacks on your opponents that take advantage of your particular character’s natural abilities. Get backed into a corner as Bane? A quick tap of the right bumper will have him pick up a car and smash it over your opponent. Should you be playing as the Flash, though, you’ll simply jump off the car to then get behind your opponent and put them in the corner. Laser cannons, chandeliers, statues, robots, jet engines, and anything else you come across can be used to turn the tide of battle and I still haven’t found them all after literally pouring nearly 30 hours into the game.

When all is said and done, Injustice: Gods Among Us isn’t just another fighting game. It’s the ultimate in fan service and an unmistakable labor of love. This is the kind of game DC fans have been dreaming of seeing their heroes in for a long time. On top of the stellar gameplay and cornucopia of modes, there’s a treasure trove full of unlockables, amazing graphics, and superb audio, with a voice cast pulled from the annals of DC Animation’s greats—even if not all of them are in their traditional roles (i.e., Phil LaMarr as Aquaman). And the only knocks against this entire experience are minor. The load times are obnoxiously long and frequent between each battle, but even that can be forgiven when you see what you can do in the levels and how smooth every single fight is once it starts. A few character move sets have shades of Mortal Kombat leak through like Batman/Scorpion, Raven/Ermac, and Killer Frost/Sub-Zero, but everyone else seems truly and wholly original. And I wish the mirror match clones were more easily discernible as they look exactly the same as you do. I’m really nitpicking there, though. I can’t stress enough how polished this game is in nearly every facet. This is a satisfying, must-have gaming experience on every level.

Developer: NetherRealm Studios • Publisher: Warner Bros. Int. Ent. • ESRB: T – Teen • Release Date: 04.16.13
9.5
One of the best all-around fighting experiences you’re likely to find—and fans of both DC Comics and Mortal Kombat-style fighters will be blown away by this high-quality brawler of epic proportions.
The Good A story worthy of the comics, near-flawless mechanics, and enough collectibles to make this one of the deepest fighters you’ll ever see.
The Bad Obnoxiously long and frequent load times.
The Ugly Solomon Grundy takes the cake here.
Injustice: Gods Among Us is available on Xbox 360, PS3, and Wii U. Primary version reviewed was for Xbox 360.

At SDCC 2012, EGM Reviews Editor Ray Carsillo had a chance to catch up with Mortal Kombat co-creator and creative director for the upcoming Warner Bros. game, Injustice: Gods Among Us, Ed Boon.