Tag Archive: justice league

I got to guest host on Nerd Alert this week with Kim Horcher. We talked about myriad topics, including the new Justice League movie coming out in November!

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
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.

THE BUZZ: In an interview with Peter Nowak of Canadian Business, Warner Bros.’ new Montreal studio’s head Martin Carrier and VP/Executive Producer Reid Schneider let loose that there are plans for more DC Comics inspired games on the way.

“We’re definitely working closely with DC on different titles, yet to be announced. It’s one of the reasons we talk to Geoff Johns and Jim Lee on a regular basis,” said Carrier. “It’s a good time to be working with DC. There’s so much energy going on there. So yeah, we’re in the triple-A space and the casual online space.”

Schneider and Carrier also alluded to these games not being movie tie-ins due to the success of Batman: Arkham Asylum and Arkham City showing that fans want more original stories based in the rich lore of the DCU and not just other media spin-offs.

EGM’S TAKE: Look out EA and Ubisoft, it looks like you’ve got some new gaming neighbors up there in Montreal. It’s no surprise really that Warner Bros. would be looking to devote a large force of employees to working with the DC Comics license considering the potential there and the fact that they’re working with Jim Lee and Geoff Johns, guys who drew and wrote some of the more prolific Batman and Green Lantern stories of the past decade and have moved up the DC management hierarchy, only bodes well for future titles. With plans to double the studio’s 150 employee work force by 2015 as well might mean a lot of work in the near future for these guys, which is good news all around for any and all DC Comics fans.

What games and heroes besides those that are Batman related would you guys like to see? Where does Warner Bros. go with Batman from here? What more for online could they do with the DC brand? Let us know your thoughts with comments below!

Originally Published: August 31, 2011 on EGMNOW.com

August is coming to a close and with it is an incredible run by Greg Pak on The Incredible Hulk that will lead into an all new monthly for “he who likes to smash” over at Marvel and of course the universe altering Flashpoint for DC. With all these changes going on, let’s jump right into this week’s comics and get our hands on my five must haves for the week.

1) DC – Flashpoint #5 (of 5): As mentioned in the open, this is where the entire DCU will be reset from. Although not following Flashpoint as closely as many other events over the past few years, partially due to my disappointment in the ending of Brightest Day by Geoff Johns, who is one of the main guys behind this re-launch, this issue actually left me feeling rather satisfied with how everything has drawn to a close with some tremendously heart-felt moments for many of the DCU’s powerhouses. Even if you haven’t been reading Flashpoint, if you have any interest in the DCU, you should pick this up just to have a solid idea of where things will go from here and so you can have a solid gauge of just what changes are taking place. If for some reason you’ve been staying off the DC bandwagon, then this is the perfect time to get on board with a fresh start and not as much of the weight that comes with some of publisher’s main characters’ 70-plus year histories.

2) DC – Justice League #1: The only other DC comic to be released this week, which not only made it very easy to pick my pair of DC must haves, but also is the starting off point for the new vision of the DC Universe. A part of me really wanted to hate this issue, I admit. The whole idea of a universal re-launch kind of turned my stomach when I first heard about it, and I’m still unsure of how things will turn out, but if everything ends up like this comic, then DC will be just fine and this could mark the beginning of a newly celebrated age in comics. Starting off in a flashback to five years ago before the Justice League had formed (in comics time of course), the issue has a lot of classic crowd pleasing elements like the heroes fighting each other at first until a new threat they can’t handle alone rears its head (which I won’t spoil, but DC fans will be thrilled about what it is). My only problem from this comic comes in the Superman redesign. The all blue-suit and more toned musculature really makes me think I’m looking at Superboy and not Superman. Overall though, aside from possibly being worth something as a new #1, I can see this easily becoming one of my monthly pick up depending on where this opening arc goes.

3) Marvel – The Incredible Hulks #635 – Again, as mentioned above, Greg Pak’s run with Hulk is coming to an end. With it, Marvel will hand over the reigns to a new creative team, with a brand new Hulk monthly, in writer Jason Aaron and legendary artist Marc Silvestri as Marvel will make sure what would otherwise be a monumental gap in their lineup stays occupied. Not surprising to see a new team come in after seeing Hulk’s main comic go through more changes in the past few years than Banner does purple pants, but the idea of ANOTHER re-launch has me shaking my head. Pak’s run was spectacular though and he added as much depth to the character than most any other writer in the Hulk’s history. So if you’re a fan of the big green gamma-irradiated monster known as The Hulk, you should pick this up to see where the character may just be going and who he’ll take with him when his new landmark monthly in October hits as this run draws to a fitting close.

4) Marvel – Herc #6.1 – Mind you, it’s not like Greg Pak will be out of work as he will continue now with the monthly he started a short while ago since he is probably the sole reason as to why this character has seen a renaissance in recent years. Hercules, one time Avenger, now stripped of his powers, must try to find his way in the world and figures what better place than…Brooklyn? Not quite Mount Olympus, Herc decides that this New York borough is in need of a hero and so after raiding Ares’ armory, he uses some godly weapons and his god-sized heart to try to dish out a little justice. Continuing the “.1” series for Marvel, which is really just an excuse to dish out more one-shots and make some more cash, this adventure may not be as epic as the main monthly for Herc, but it does a fine job of catching you up incase you missed the first six issues and are looking for something new and fun as the Herc series has done a great job of mixing humor and action to be one of the more overall entertaining reads to launch this year.

5) IDW – Locke and Key: Clockworks #2 – Continuing Joe Hill’s twisted story of how the Locke family are using mystical keys to keep the demon world at bay, Clockworks #2 mixes humor with some very dark and disturbing imagery that could only come from the mind of Stephen King’s son (Joe Hill is a pen name). The evil demon Dodge, who is trying to unleash his demon brethren into our realm, has possessed the youngest of the Locke children and is using his body to get close to his ultimate prize. Unwittingly, he also releases Kinsey’s tears and fears, emotions that using the Head Key she had locked away in order to do what was necessary in order to protect her family and our world. Mayhem runs abound in this issue as the countdown to the amazing conclusion to the Locke and Key series is in full swing now. If you haven’t been reading Locke and Key, go find collections of the previous story arcs and get on board while you still can with this phenomenally dark series.

Originally Published: March 30, 2010, on NationalLampoon.com, SportsRev.TV, and Lundberg.me

This week I looked at Just Cause 2 and Justice League: Rise of Arsenal #1 (of 4). I also gave my hot chick pick of the week, Raquel Reign.

Originally Published: March 2, 2010, on 1050ESPN.com (now ESPNNewYork.com)

The folks at DC Animation are constantly thinking up new ways to put some twists on classic comic book storylines and their latest undertaking is a new look at the classic alternative universe, or “multi-verse”, storylines that have been a staple of the DC Universe (DCU) since the 1960s.

Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths sees the Justice League visited by an alternative universe Lex Luthor where everything is opposite to our beloved Justice League’s universe. So, Lex Luthor and the Joker (called The Jester) are heroes and Superman, Batman, and the rest of the Justice League all has villainous mobster-type counterparts (Ultraman to Superman, Owlman to Batman, etc.). It is now tasked to our Justice League to rise to the challenge of adapting to this new world and to take down this nefarious group of super villains (called the Crime Syndicate) for the sake of the entire multi-verse!

If you’re a DCU fan and you are expecting to see a single comic story arc represented in this latest straight to DVD movie, then you will be sorely mistaken. A die-hard DCU fan will immediately recognize that this is more of a compilation of elements from all of the multi-verse stories of the 1960s all the way through to the first DCU Crisis. From adding a few original elements and using the Crime Syndicate of Earth-3 storylines, to the idea of a multi-verse and its possible destruction, this DVD was able to tie together all those concepts very well to create a never-before-seen, enjoyable storyline involving all of our favorite superheroes. Of course, it didn’t take a lot of reworking from the brain trust at DC Animation since most of these pieces were already in place almost a decade ago when this was originally supposed to be a bridge between the Justice League and Justice League Unlimited cartoons, but I still liked it.

Although the movie is just 75 minutes, there are also plenty of DVD features on the special edition to make this a worthwhile purchase instead of a simple rental. The special features include a short documentary feature on the advent of the multi-verse in the DCU and how they inspire storylines even today, which was brilliantly done and features the usual powerhouses behind the scenes of DC. Along with this, you get a preview of the next big DC Animation project (Under the Red Hood), a special animated short featuring the original Spectre done in the style of a 1970s crime drama, and two episodes of the Justice League cartoon from the early 2000s that, of course, features an alternative universe Justice League. Right there you have probably another 75 minutes of bonus content, not to mention it comes with an Owlman figurine if you get the 2-disc special edition.

Even with all these great features and an original plot, there were a couple of drawbacks. I thought the animation style was a little sub par to what I’ve come to expect from DC Animation. There was just something that rubbed me the wrong way and it had to do with the characters’ faces. They almost looked a little too unrealistic, like they belonged more in a Bugs Bunny cartoon. Along with this, the voice acting was only average. I was severely disappointed with William Baldwin’s portrayal of Batman and Mark Harmon as Superman and Chris Noth as Lex Luthor really ground my gears as well. I did love James Woods as Owlman, though, and Nolan North, a voice acting veteran best known for several of his video game roles, played Green Lantern and his evil counterpart, Power Ring, very nicely.

Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths could be a nice addition to any DC fan’s DVD collection with some great special features and a good plot based on some classic storylines, but I wouldn’t put it above Batman/Superman: Public Enemies or the Wonder Woman animated feature that came out last year.

Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths gets 3 out of 5.

-Ray Carsillo