Developer: NetherRealm Studios
Publisher: WB Games
Release Date: Apr 16, 2013
Available Platforms: Xbox 360, Playstation 3
Reviewed Platforms: Xbox 360
I’m not a tournament level player at all, but I have played my fair share of fighters over the years. I will admit that Mortal Kombat is the game that got me into fighters initially, and the previous installment of Mortal Kombat (2011) is probably one of my favourite fighting games of all time. That being said, I also enjoy Street Fighter games as well. I’ve dabbled in SNK, Tecmo and Namco fighters as well but I’m not much more than a beginner in regards to those games.
Coming from that, Injustice felt like a very similar experience to playing Soul Calibur for the first time to me. I’m not saying Injustice plays like Soul Calibur– it does not. But whereas I usually can pick up MK games or Capcom fighters pretty easily, Injustice has (and continues) to take me some time to adjust to the fighting mechanics.
At first blush, the game may seem very similar to Mortal Kombat 9, given that it’s built off of the same fighting engine. But a lot has changed since MK9. EX Moves are now performed by pressing the EX button after performing your initial special move, rather than simultaneously with the special move button press. Instead of the traditional button layout of 2 Punches, 2 Kicks and Block, Injustice uses Low, Medium and High Attack Buttons and Back is to Block (Similar to Street Fighter). In addition, there is also a Trait button which is a unique ability to each Character. For example, Superman gets Super Strength, Batman gets explosive Bats that he can throw at the enemy, Green Arrow can throw Arrows, etc.
Characters also have Super Moves which essentially are the replacement for X-Ray moves from MK9. There are also no fatalities this time around, but they aren’t necessary as the Super Moves are elaborate enough such that you can get the same type of kick out of them.
I felt like MK9 was very accessible, but early on it feels like Injustice is a little more geared towards hardcore players. While high level players won’t have trouble with some of the zoning tactics used here, I feel as though the barrier to entry is higher than MK because zoning tactics that can be used by Deathstroke and some other characters are VERY easy to execute, but very hard to defend against by a beginner or even average player. The field is level for Tournament level players, but not for the average player.
Graphically, the game is pretty similar to Mortal Kombat. But it still looks great considering the fact that it’s runs at a solid 60 Frame Per Second.
Story mode is similar to what was in MK vs. DC and MK9. The Story mode is broken up into Chapters of about 5 fights where you control a Character per Chapter. Between fights, you’ll see cutscenes, which also are used to mask loading times. Some fights have mini-games in front of them this time around which let you chip some life from your enemy before the fight begins. The fights themselves are all just straight up 1 on 1 fights. In MK9 it was different as there were some gimmick fights (such as 1 vs 2, 1 vs 3, boss fights) which ramped up the difficulty and made you really learn the character you were playing. In Injustice, I was good enough to just stumble through the game by mashing out combos, so I didn’t really have to learn how the characters played.
I felt like MK9 story was just a little more memorable and epic. It felt like a big budget AAA title. While the production quality was there with this one, it did feel shorter. It’s hard to say whether that’s because of it being easier due to lack of challenging matches or if it’s a factor of actually having less content. The being said, the Story mode creates a connection to DC Characters (outside of Batman & Superman which are well established) unlike any other mainstream product I’ve seen from DC. This is a great first step on their way to try to match Marvel’s incredible marketing of their secondary superheroes & villains.
Most of the game modes from Mortal Kombat 9 come over to Injustice, but there are some differences here and there. Thankfully, Story mode gets a must needed Chapter Select– allowing you to go back to any point in the entire story mode and start from a specific cutscene or fight. “Battles Mode” is similar to the Ladder in MK9, but there are now different flavours of the ladder you can choose from now. For example, you can choose to fight only Heroes, or only Villains. There seem to be quite a few flavours of this mode that can be unlocked as well.
There’s no Tag mode in Injustice. MK9 did have one, but it seem as though it played second fiddle and was not used much by players.
“S.T.A.R. Labs” is Injustice’s equivalent of the Challenge Tower. You get to play through several matches with different conditions. Some act as Training for characters, others are gimmick matches, such as trying to defeat multiple characters, or using Superman’s laser attack to blow up Barrels before they harm a character you are protecting. It has some of the flavour that I feel the Story mode in MK9 had, but is missing in Injustice’s Story mode. It also goes through a bunch of non-canon storylines during the process which gives you a lot of fun “what if” scenarios.
1 vs 1 Ranked and Private Matches return as well as the “King of the Hill” mode which lets up to 8 players hang out in a lobby and challenge the King– winner becomes/stays King and the loser moves to the back of the queue of players. Online seemed a little slow to get a ranked match during the first few days, but if you are patient and wait a few minutes you will find matches. I’ve had mostly good experiences online in terms of not having much lag.
Injustice lacks an Online Tournament mode. In other fighting games you can set up brackets of players and fight until there’s one player left standing. I think it’s a missed opportunity considering the increasing popularity of fighting game tournaments being watched on twitch.tv.
For those who played Mortal Kombat 9 Online from Day 1, they’ll remember that the Online modes were broken. Not only due to traffic, but because certain combinations of Downloadable Characters and costumes could break the game. NeatherRealm Studios has resolved this issue by consolidating the downloadable content they offer into mandatory content packs that everyone who plays online must download, which is a positive.
Injustice is not only a great fighting game, but it is a great game. Even if you aren’t an expert fighting game player, you can still enjoy the game on you own with the plentiful amount of Single Player Content here. It’s unfortunate that they didn’t take strides to graduate novice players to higher levels of play though.