A couple of years ago at E3 I remember seeing a demo of the last Mortal Kombat game, and walking away from it thinking ‘Well, there’s a game we’ll never see’. However, personally, it wasn’t too worrying; aside from a brief addiction to Street Fighter in my misspent youth, fighting games jsut aren’t my thing. Tekken, Mortal Combat, the various Capcoms versus, well, everything else? They leave me cold.
But, Gods help me, I actually enjoyed the new fighting game that Warner announced just before E3, Injustice. And not just because you get to control iconic supers like Batman and even Superman! No, it’s just that it’s already playing like a supremely well thought out and nuanced beat-‘em-up.
(It could also be because I got to beat the crap out of a game journo colleague – truly, beating online only guys is a victimless crime, right?)
So the NetherRealm guys running the initial hands-off part of the demo hinted there’s actually a bit of story to the game that they’re not revealing yet. Presumably, it’ll explain why all these heroes have gone bad and are fighting amongst themselves, but, really – that’s just window-dressing. The game itself delivers some fantastically clever mechanics, a rich range of moves, and familiar characters.
It also feels a lot more accessible than most every other fighting game I’ve had inflicted on me, and I admit I’d be interested in playing again, if only to explore just how large and interactive the huge levels are.
Fights in Injustice don’t take place on a single stage, as you fight back and forth, and they’re not simple backdrops. As these mighty heroes fight, they can smash each other through walls, down lift shifts, or up into the air – there are usually three different areas to each level. For instance, in one city level, you can punch your opponent clear through and into a building.
Similarly, as fights progress, the environments rack up damage, opening up some unique special attacks, such as the ability to fire off the rockets on a nearby bat-vehicle, or force your opponent into an array of hanging electrical cables.
It’s the fighting that’s the real meat of the game, though, and it’s suitably epic. Superman hovers over the ground and can pound with his fists, or break out his mighty eye lasers for some attacks. It’s the usual array of how and low attacks, light and strong ones, but it’s very responsive and quite satisfying – even more satisfying when you up your power meter enough to pull off some truly over the top special attacks. The Flash, for instance, sprints off around the planet to deliver a super-fast attach, Superman flies you up into the low orbit before throwing you back to Earth, and Wonderwoman can call on some Amazonian buds to really lay down the smack.
It’s not something I’m going to go out and buy, but it’s not something I’d back away from if a friend insisted on some super-powered beat-downs. For someone who really doesn’t dig on the genre, I can’t think of higher (faint) praise.