Injustice: Gods Among Us Preview - Superfan Service
Written Wednesday, April 10, 2013 By Lee BradleyView author's profile
We all know the main selling point of Injustice: Gods Among Us. This is a game that allows you to take control of your favourite DC Comics character and punch someone out of the Earth’s atmosphere and into space. Frankly, it should be enough to get you to hand over your cash immediately.
Just in case it isn’t though, here’s some more info straight from a behind-closed-doors preview event we attended in San Francisco recently, in which developers NetherRealm explained how they’ve taken modes from their 2011 Mortal Kombat reboot and given them superpowers.
That’s right, NetherRealm has gone to town with Injustice, promising considerable improvements over Sub-Zero and co.’s latest outing. To that end Injustice offers a beefed up take on MK’s celebrated single-player mode, and a twist on Challenge Tower in the form of the S.T.A.R. Labs Missions.
Set in an alternate DC Universe, the story mode sees Superman contradicting Kevin Smith and getting Lois pregnant. But while Superman is busy grinning his way around Metropolis, Joker kidnaps Lois and creates a dangerous mixture of Kryptonite and Scarecrow’s fear toxin. Unleashing it on Superman, he tricks the colourfully underpanted one into killing both his wife and his unborn child. Meanwhile, Joker blows Metropolis sky high.
As you can imagine Superman doesn’t take this particularly well. Straying from his good guy ways, he clamps down on the people of Earth, becoming The Iron Fist. Suddenly, all bets are off and superheroes, heroines and villains alike find themselves at odds.
That’s how Injustice establishes the game’s story and justifies everyone battering the crap out of each other.
As with Mortal Kombat’s single-player, Injustice forgoes the traditional ladder style approach and instead mixes cutscenes with fights in a relatively seamless manner. In this way players are offered some context for all that super-punching, while engaging in what promises to be a great narrative. It makes Street Fighter’s approach look ancient.
The difference is that Injustice’s story is much longer than Mortal Kombat’s, with “vastly” more rendered content. The quality of these cutscenes is great too, with a raft of experienced voice talent including Nolan North (who is everywhere), Troy Baker (who also played Booker DeWitt in BioShock Infinite) and Adam Baldwin (who was Jayne in Firefly and Serenity).
All of these actors, and there’s plenty more, have provided voice work for DC characters in previous games and TV series, so they’re right at home here. Indeed, the only real shortcoming is the absence of Mark Hamill playing Joker, but the actor used in his stead does a decent impression.
Elsewhere, MK’s Challenge Tower mode evolves into Injustice’s S.T.A.R. Labs Missions, in which NetherRealm unshackles itself from the usual one-on-one gameplay and goes nuts, challenging players with a load of bonkers mini-games that take place within their own little narratives.
There’s 240 missions in total, that’s 10 per character, varying from platforming challenges, to 2.5D sidescrolling shooter sequences, FPS missions, stealth sections and twists on ancient arcade classics. And if you beat each character’s storyline NetherRealm promises that you’ll unlock something “cool.” Yay?
In our demo we were shown the Last Son of Krypton mission, available as part of the Red Son pre-order bonus DLC, in which Superman encounters an asteroid belt on his way to Russia and has to use his spacepod’s lasers to blast incoming asteroids. Undoubtedly a sideshow to Injustice's super-pugilism, it’s nice to see that NetherRealm has let its hair down a little to explore new ideas.
Threaded through all of this is a new XP system. Replacing the Koin currency used in MK, XP is earned across all modes, offering rewards for winning fights, progressing in single-player, completing challenges, performing supers and the like. And although you can earn XP offline, while online you’ll rack up the points far more quickly.
NetherRealm is keen to stress that none of the unlocks earned from gaining XP translate into potentially balance-shattering abilities. Instead what you’ll receive are cosmetic items like skins and interesting bits and bobs like concept art. Usually we wouldn’t be too bothered about this kind of fluff, but considering the developer’s access to the DC Comics vaults, we’re sure there’ll be plenty of interesting stuff for fans.
Ultimately, that’s what struck us most about Injustice: Gods Among Us. Every effort has been made to create an experience that will cater to DC legions of aficionados. From the story mode, to the S.T.A.R. Labs missions and beyond into the fighter line-up (fully detailed here) and the numerous iconic stages, you couldn’t want for much more. If NetherRealm can nail the actual combat at the heart of all of this, then we could have something very special on our hands.
And if all else fails, remember: you can punch a superdude out of the Earth’s atmosphere and into space.
Injustice: Gods Among Us is out on April 16th in North America and April 19th in Europe.