Comic-Con 2012: 'Injustice: Gods Among Us' preview
Superheroes and fighting games are two things that sound like they should go together great, like pie and whip cream, or eggs and ketchup (it’s delicious, shut up). However, there is yet to be a fighting game that I feel really captures what makes superheroes so appealing. Part of this is the need to make a game balanced, part of it is just a general problem of scale (beings that powerful would do an amazing amount of damage to their surroundings), and part of it is that it’s just plain hard to build powers and moves that come with pre-existing fan expectations into a compelling brawler. It’s easier when the characters are your own property, and there is no one besides you to dictate what they can and cannot do.
When images from Injustice first started popping up, some immediately took issue with the design of the characters, which is quite different from their comic book designs. Sporting eight playable characters at the time of the demo, many if not all of them had undergone some sort of drastic redesign, molded into dark, gritty re imaginings of what most people remember them as. Is this necessarily a bad thing? No, but it can be a bit off putting, especially as a die-hard comic book fan, but I decided to give it a shot and judge it based on the gameplay instead of its look. (And when I say look, I strictly mean design choices. The graphics were beautiful and the movement fluid.)
I must admit to being biased when it comes to fighting games, having always preferred the Capcom/Street Fighter style of fighting game to the Mortal Kombat style. Injustice definitely falls into the latter category, which means that I still had all of the issues I have always had with that fighting system, which I can’t really explain because the only real issue I have is that I don’t think it’s as fun. That said, I could definitely tell that there were options with the characters here, and that once I had a chance to explore their move-sets a little bit more, the combat of Injustice would really open up to me.
The characters all played very differently, which is a must when dealing with characters as varied as Cyborg and Solomon Grundy. While it is certainly not realistic for Superman to ever get a beatdown from Harley Quinn, I understand that there is not really any way around that logic hole without sacrificing balanced gameplay. It is a bit jarring, though, to see Supers take Harley up into space, only to have her be fine afterwards (albeit missing a decent chunk of her health bar.)
The primary feature of Injustice that the demo focused on was the environments. I was told that the goal was for the choice of environment to be as important as the choice of character, and it’s very clear from the two levels that I played on that they are really pulling out all of the stops in making them interactive. Each level has several spots where you can either impact the level or use it against your opponent, which wouldn’t be anything special, if it weren’t for the fact that these interactions change depending on the character you are controlling. It keeps things fresh, in a game that otherwise could feel quite stale.
Is Injustice perfect? Far from it. But once we get more characters, more levels, and more time to explore what the game can offer, I think that it will be a lot of fun. Even if the characters do look pretty weird.